Number 2,495 and still going …

Welcome to post no. 2495. Five more and that will be … five more. Will I still be sitting here waiting on surgery or will I be in post-op world for 2,500? We shall see what we shall see. Best I can do.

Daylight Saving Time. Here we are back at Central DST. The days stay light during the summer until almost 8 p.m. I used to like it, a lot. I have not had the opportunity to enjoy it much in more recent years. One thing I have noticed about DST today more so than in past time. Time seems to speed right on by.

That’s about all I have to say about things today. Time has sure sped by. I look up and it’s time for the evening news. Now isn’t that a quaint little thought?

 

 

Open your mouth and say “Verizon.” Let your good day turn to crap on a stick.

“Your time is valuable,” says the sickeningly uplifting recording on the phone. I suppose if they were truthful and said, “Your time means nothing to us, go screw yourself,” I would be even more aggravated than I already am.

Verizon Wireless finally sent me a broadband device that works well and from which I have had no problems since it was delivered. I would cross my fingers but my right-hand second and third finger will not cross anymore. I don’t know why. My left fingers work fine. I just happened to notice the other day that my right-hand fingers will no longer cross. Not that I am superstitious, but I do cross my fingers when someone says something that requires some manner of hope. Perhaps the gesture is an act of affirmation. Still, the fact that my right-hand crossing fingers no long cross sort of bums me out. I can understand undergoing signs of aging at age 58. I’ve got plenty of them. Anyone need one? One sign of the aging process coming up!

I sent the wireless device that was replaced about three weeks ago. Verizon has never received it. Let the games begin.

Perhaps Verizon doesn’t realize it yet, or maybe they have, but what they have invented is a “mood depressor.” Hey, anything can make you happy–sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, religion, funny cat videos. People have been raking money in hand-over-foot for years to sell the items that one another seem to believe will make them happy. Of course, money is at the center of the entire kaboodle. What the hell is a kaboodle anyway? A strange land filled with nothing but kaboodles and kits, of course. What kind of kits I have no idea. First aid kits? St. Kitts? Who knows or cares?

But think of it, eventually the buzz you get from a revival or a shot of cocaine or a shot of whiskey or a shot of Rosa Lee will come tumbling down. Watch out, Junior! The Walls of Jericho are falling. Another day is about to be shot to hell. So why wait for your good mood to fall flat as a beer open Wednesday last and was never covered since.

Why not deploy yourself a good ol’ mood depressor? You have to come down from that mountain, Tillie, the sun’s about to set.

Yes, dial *611 and punch 3. Talk to a real person. Yes, speak to a real person at Verizon Wireless and your day will be all shot to hell. You know you want that feeling. Where you going, Hon? Why I’m going to the State of Pissed Off.

 

 

Where is my flying car? Why, it’s in the garage behind the boxes of Slinkys.

They’re here! They’re really here! Well, maybe not exactly …

I speak of flying cars. Flying cars, or rather, the thought of flying automobiles have be around us for a long time. During the 50s and 60s, movies and TV shows like the cartoon “The Jetsons” placed the idea in many a young brain that come the turn of the 21st century we would be driving in and out of terrestrial and interstellar traffic. The assembly-line flying car has yet to materialize, even though they have really been around for quite awhile. And while some folks who have their heads way in the clouds and feel the airborne car will be here sooner than later, a technology is already here that could be the predecessor of the modern flying car — a cross between a helicopter and a drone — could be clogging the skies carrying Amazon deliveries by 2015. That is if Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has his way.

Entrepreneur and now owner of The Washington Post Bezos sure got his PR machine on full-throttle and heading way out to the clouds, especially since announcing on “60 Minutes” last night that his drone technology to deliver Amazon products is here. It just needs a bit of tweaking.

One needs only to take their heads out of the clouds for a few minutes to realize what all is involved for a drone to actually show up at one’s doorstep with a load of books, CDs and maybe even a pizza and a six-pack of beer.

It seems like everyone and their dog wants a drone now while everyone else and their cat believes drones are a terrible idea. But what about the flying car? And flying cars everywhere? Well, it seems as if that is being worked on as we speak, and probably by more than one dreamer. It just seems as if the drone will pave the way for flying cars in everyone’s garage. And probably a chicken in every pot just for posterity. I don’t know why to expect either to tell the truth.

But those in the crossed centuries have wondered why the year 2000 came and went without flying cars everywhere. Flying cars have actually existed for awhile now, at least 60 years or more.

I was always amused by the Bob Cummings TV series of the early 60s. The comedy starred the debonair Cummings, who both in the small box and in life was a former World War II pilot. He happened to have driven/flown an honest to Abe flying car, one which known as an Aerocar. This being the late 50s and early 60s, one might have easily guessed, and correctly so, that the airborne car was peculiar looking. Of course, given Cummings’ background his enthusiasm of flight must have been predestined.

Now I have not had time to verify this, at least to my satisfaction, but I will go ahead and repeat the biographical information gleaned from the Wikipedia page for Robert Cummings. The Wiki piece notes that Cummings was taught to fly as a teen by his Godfather, Orville Wright. Yes, that, Orville Wright. Supposedly Cummings also became the first person who the government certified as a flight instructor.

Whether the Bezos octo-drone actually takes flight and delivers stuff remains tot be seen. There does seem as if an awful lot of “tweaking” would be required for such a roll out. Of course, that might just be the spark needed for flying cars. But one has to think about this: These flying cars have been wrapped around inside a time warp and still the objects have not advanced. One has to wonder why that is so.

Think about it, then dust off the old Aerocar and fly over to pick me up. I’ll be the one wearing the parachute.

 

 

Apple, 2nd to ruin my day, 1st in a pretty phone screen

A neat little ol’ tech blog out of Austin had a very helpful article dated Monday. It was a very informative piece on Apple’s iOS 7 upgrade. And it is one that I wished like hell I had read prior to about 11 a.m. today.

It seems as if I was the last person on planet Earth who discovered Apple blew up the operating system I was using on my iPhone 4. I think it’s 4. It could be “99 And A Half” for all I know. I saw on my iPhone that I needed to do an update on my OS, so I was walking back to my office, ticked off about an encounter I had on the phone earlier with a “client.” I still am, ticked off, that is. Short story, the update took forever. I had to get back to my office where I had plenty of phones to use while mine was being “updated.”

The home screen looked different, way different. I had to sign in with my Apple ID and develop a code to get me inside my telephone. Now when it rings I have to, I don’t know what you call it, rub my screen like a genie and make the “phone” appear. Christ on codeine syrup!

Later this afternoon, I got to playing around with the “voice memo” app. It recorded okay, and I erased the messages I had made. But I get a goofy screen now with a buttons and some lines for writing. You push the button and nothing happens. You rub the bottom of the screen and your “control panel” appears. Oh great. Plus, it leaves a red banner across the iPhone screen to remind me I am recording, even though I am not.

I talked with a Verizon techno-gal who was about as helpful as Edward Scissorhand in a bouncy house full of 4-year-olds.

So, I decided to look on my own and found this great techie page from Austin. Home of the Armadillo — waaaay back when. And damned if I didn’t find out too late. Like right now and for supper.

Football is here. A mostly glorious event.

Last night the pro football season began for me. And how glorious it — mostly — was.

My team, a.k.a. the Houston Texans, came back from a deficit of 24 points to beat the San Diego Chargers. Randy Bullock booted a 41-yard field goal for a literal last-second three points.The kicker was drafted by Houston in 2012 but was injured that August with a groin injury. A Klein High School product who played ball and graduated with a petroleum engineering degree from Texas A & M, was given the game ball for what was his first regular season game. Oh, and yes, I was just thinking “ouch.”

It happened that the opening Monday Night Football game of 2013 was a double-header: the Washington Native-American Skins  vs. the Philadelphia Eagles with Houston-San Diego. Since I worked until 8 o’clock, the first game was going when I got home. I wasn’t particularly excited to see that particular game. I mean RGIII is a pretty exciting young quarterback to watch, provided he doesn’t end up on injured reserve after the first game. Less exciting were the two announcers for the game: Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico. And if humanly possible, many Houston fans thought the announcing pair for the second game — Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer — were even less exciting than the first two.

  “Chris Berman’s voice makes me wanna shoot myself in the foot,” Twittered “Lil Poop” to the Houston Chronicle.

Berman could be funny back in the 80s, when more people were stoned. Not so much these days. Trent Dilfer, the former Tampa Bay, Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland and 49ers quarterback, is a pretty good NFL analyst, on the radio. Not so much a TV analyst.

I guess the Texans-Chargers game was an exciting contest. But I’d like my team to win like they were supposed to. I would like to see the Houston Texans go to the Super Bowl and, hopefully, win before I become too decrepit to do a limited Happy Dance. No matter how thrilling the game, if you have sleep problems like me, exciting at 12:45 a.m. doesn’t quite cut it.

Nonetheless, Houston seems to have a team better than last season’s. That’s a positive note. And to round out the start of football season, my high school has been at the top on the Associated Press prep polls from the start. My old school is No. 1 in 2A in Texas. Look it up.

An interesting note, a high school friend who still lives in the old hometown became involved in a kerfuffle with a regional sports site. It has been since straightened out last I heard. But Bobby has gotten a considerable number of folks, such as me, who agreed when my friend asked if I would be interested in receiving updates from him by text messaging. I said: Why the hell not? I have free unlimited text that I use. So, during the last two games which were won by old alma mater, I received short and to the point texts. Dick EFD, 2 yd run TD, PAT good. N 16, L 10. No commentary, no funny names. Just , who won, Baby!!! The home team has won three state championships. I saw them win one in person. I ‘d like to see them win another. And see the Texans win the Super Duper Bowl. Even if it’s on TV.

Tote that laptop, load that Dell, take a little drink and you’ll land in … oh what the hell!

The last few days have been spent in what is now a too-common exercise. That is loading and reloading programs on my computer. Dell sent a repair person on Friday to fix my laptop. That visit included installing a new hard drive and doing whatever they do to repair a problem touch pad.

This type of stuff has been happening increasingly. I don’t know how long it has been, but it seems not a very long time ago that I had to restore my operating system to factory settings. Look, I admit that doing these type of things aren’t an equivalent to neurosurgery. But that makes them no less a pain in the ass. I now have the basic programs I need, but I still require a thousand tasks every time I finish another.

I thought owning a computer would be easier than this. I suppose part of my reason for feeling this way is that I once only used a computer, or PCs, or Macs, at work. Mostly I used Apple products, Mac variations. I don’t know if Apple has less problems than other computers. The first computer I owned was a used Mac and I never had any issues. However, I also never lugged my old Macintosh three or four times a year on flights to here or there. Nor did I take my computer to work with me every day.

My work computer is a tablet/notebook, Lenovo. It seems to be pretty sturdy and it should be because it is made for lugging around and for use in the field on a daily basis. You can’t break it or so it seems. I know if I could stand it up aside a pole and fire away with a Remington 870, that we’d see about that. However, that’s only a dream.

Still, you buy what you can afford if you can’t afford it and that is me to a t, or is it tee? Or if you were a tree, what would you be? Who the hell knows. I am working an evening shift, so I better get dressed.

 

The computer man cometh

Yesterday afternoon I was writing along about something I wanted to say and was interrupted by the Dell lady. I spent the next hour letting her pick through my laptop and she finally said I was going to need another touch-pad and another hard drive. It supposedly will not cost me anything. It better not. But crap!

I guess I will either need to pay for an extended warranty or fix up one of the two kaput laptops I have if this one goes down after my next birthday in October. Happy Birthday! You need a new laptop. Damn, I hope not. I need to get one of those sturdy laptops with a durable case like the Army uses. I have a computer like that for my job. But it is a monumental piece of s**t. That’s MPOS, in troll talk.

Friday is supposedly the day the computer jockey comes to fix up this Inspiron. So I have all that re-loading stuff to look forward to this weekend. The Dell lady said she will “own” my case and will put all the software back on my laptop. Indian porn generator, perhaps? Sorry, it’s been a long day.

 

 

Top 10, finally. Good effort, not too great results.

For quite awhile I have wanted to do a slide show so I could more easily and efficiently compose lists, perhaps even with music. Well today I started with the Top 10 concerts I have attended. It was neither an easy nor efficient use of my time and that of my alternative ego, Mr. Smith, who was kind enough to let us make use of his You Tube account.

The slide show may or may not have music. If it does, it may eventually creep into songs played in the concerts I attended, although once the music gets going the slide show stops until you decide to run it again. Or so it went when I tried it out. Well, no one said I nor Mr. Smith were techno-whizes.

YouTube Preview Image

A word about these concerts. Some are listed with other times I saw the act. For instance, I saw Fleetwood Mac as part of the ZZ Top extravaganza in New Orleans. This was around the time they released the self-titled album. It was likewise just after Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the group. Then they were the featured act at another City Park show in New Orleans in, I believe, June 1977. I know it was just before I departed Gulfport for sea duty in the Western and Southern Pacific. That particular show in the late Spring of ’77 was pretty much my favorite concert ever. That had more to do with the friends I went with to the concert. We had a blast, Danny, George Jim, Rene and his friend, whose name slips my mind, and myself. The music was really good as well. It seemed every song from “Rumours,” was producing hit after hit from the spring through past the end of the year.

Also, another very popular album at that time was Bob Seger’s fantastic “Night Moves,” another hit machine. Starting off the concert was the melodic and soulful Louisiana Leroux, which has been a.k.a. “Leroux.” The performance was rounded out by Kenny Loggins, who had not long before split with his longtime musical partner, Jim Messina.

About a month before stopping off at our first liberty on our New Zealand and Australian “tour” on board the old destroyer we were given word by the XO that Fleetwood Mac would be playing in Auckland, N.Z., while we were to be there. There were a limited number of tickets available for, I think $7. Not a lot of money but when you were grossing about $535 — $7 would be worth about $27 these days, according to the BLS — then it was a little bit of cash to think about. But I wanted to see if concerts in the U.S. were different than the ones in New Zealand. It was a little different. You didn’t see people smoking reefer as was prevalent at concerts in the USA back then. Other than that not much difference at all. Plus, it was really good music.

So, thinking about “back in the day,” while trying to work with Mr. Smith on movies or slideshows. Here is hoping the ones I do in the future are much better.

Well, I played the video again and no music that time. Also, I noticed a slight error. The Superdome concert I attended where the Allman Brothers were headliners was the first rock concert (perhaps even Southern Rock) to ever take place. There were some other MOR people who played between the opening ceremonies in Aug. 3, 1975, and whenever the concert was … about a month later.

 

Future is here and it’s kind of weird but not too shocking

Once upon a time, I said that I only needed a computer that would act as a word processor and nothing more. Later, I developed a need for the Internet. Then came a requirement for working on spreadsheets. Photo editing eventually became a need because I started using a digital camera. Later my phone acted as a camera and a music platform as well. And then I found myself needing a Power Point, or in my case, the OpenOffice Presentation. Pretty soon, I was on Facebook and Twitter. After awhile, I was a regular computer geek.

Maybe I wasn’t a regular computer geek. Perhaps I was an irregular computer geek. Well, let’s say I was an irregular computer geek and a dyed-in-the-wool geek.

The future is here but I'm not shocked.

The future is here but I’m not shocked.

Some 25 years ago I didn’t even imagine I would be using a computer, much less did I think I would be using the damned thing every blamed day. I am five posts away from having 2,400 blog posts. What the hell is this blog thing? That’s like a diary isn’t it? I figured a few of my friends would look at it and we’d have some laughs. I have visitors from 27 different countries. Why would someone from Ukraine or Iraq or Ireland or even Morgantown, W.Va. Feel the need to read my musings?

I listen to music and read the newspaper on my laptop. I take photographs, do calculations, check the compass and even find my way on a map using my telephone. Imagine that? I don’t need a telephone man (or woman) to wire my house or connect a line to my home. I don’t even have wires going to my phone. I always take it with me when I go somewhere. I don’t have one ringer sound. I have as many sounds as I can afford or within my imagination. I am not charged for long-distance calls. I can send as many text messages as I want. I have 400 minutes of phone. Crap on a stick! I don’t even need a fourth of that.

I can remember my family’s first TV set, vaguely. My parents had black and white TV all their lives, even though they could have afforded color in the later years of their lives. I also remember the first telephone my folks had, at least once I joined them. Apparently they had one before I was born and then went without one for several years. Our phone was on a “party-line.” I can remember Mrs. Irons, who lived in the house across the front part of our field from us and also on our party-line, talking to her sister. Sometime they would be talking about canning vegetables or gossiping. I wasn’t supposed to be listening in. Most of the time, nothing the women said was worth eavesdropping.

When I first read the sociological gem “Future Shock,” I wondered about the type of society that could freak out over too much change happening too quickly. I have lived that type of change and, yes, it’s pretty amazing. Maybe it is the convenience that technology provides which provides a “future shock absorber.” Then maybe it’s not. Excuse me now, while I go put my TV dinner in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

SPAM? Here it’s for you.

Things, whatever that means, have become more technical and less funny.

Oh we though the Internet was a laugh a minute when it began. But how many dancing babies or cat videos can a person watch? How many cans of SPAM can you eat? How many times can you use the word SPAM? How many uses for SPAM can one find? A SPAM battleship. A SPAM water fountain with SPAM dolphins spitting out water. A Church of SPAM. SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, by damn!

Long ago when telephones weren’t known as land lines except on a ship people played telephone pranks.

“Grocery store”

“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

“Why yes we do.”

“Well you better let him out or he will suffocate.”

Or,

“Joe’s Bar.”

“Hi, is Pepe Roni there?”

“Just a minute. Pepe Roni, you gotta phone call!”

Sometimes they would get a little nasty. A guy I knew in college said he could often tell over the phone when he made receptionists at a Tyler, Texas, car dealership, blush by asking if their boss was available. The name of the dealership was King Chevrolet and often you would see the owner, Jack King, on TV. The fellow I knew used to ask:

“Excuse me ma’am, but could you tell me if Jack King is on or is Jack King off?”

Not thinking, the woman would supposedly call on the telephone loudspeaker:

“Is Jack King on or is Jack King off?”

Hilarity ensued.

It used to be, if you can believe it, people would have their names in the phone book. Their names would not be used for glorification, as is absurdly portrayed in the Steve Martin classic film, “The Jerk.” But even famous folks would have their names published.

Kids calling up and bothering these famous people may or may not have originally driven them to unlisted numbers.

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this story. So listen, and listen good.

My Uncle Ted died from alcoholism. He may or may not have suffered from what we now know of as “PTSD” from World War II. He was a bachelor in his late 40s or 50s when he lived with us. I remember see him tripping, rolling in the grass, after drinking a bottle off turpentine. I still remember the sickly, sweet smell emanating from his room that day after Daddy had to meet the town doctor to get a hypodermic needle for some kind of antidote to administer to Uncle Ted.

We were called and told my Daddy’s brother had died. We went to Daddy’s sister and brother-in-laws place in South Houston before Uncle Ted’s funeral. I didn’t like funerals very much, or at all, having experienced my grandmother’s one a couple of years before. It was surely creepy when her body was taken to her home and watched all the night before. So I wasn’t at all keen on going to Uncle Ted’s funeral.

And I thought a lot of Uncle Ted. He used to sing the song about the “Monkeys Have No Tails In Zamboanga,” the South Pacific being the area in which he landed on island after island. He even took me hunting for armadillos where I would shoot one with a .22 and make it jump afterwards. He even gave me a .410 for Christmas. I felt bad, but even after Momma’s gentle coaxing. I said I wasn’t going to go to my uncle’s funeral. I didn’t.

So I stayed in my Uncle Frank and Aunt Bess’ home while the adults went to the funeral. Eventually, I got bored watching cable TV on their color, or more like, “colored” TV. I thought the color of TVs back then were pretty funky. I looked around the house for things to entertain me. Finally, I saw the two huge Houston telephone books, or maybe it was three. One was the Yellow Pages, which held about 15 pages of my small-town, hometown phone book.

As I searched the phone book, I thought about the Mercury astronauts who lived in Clear Lake back then when the Johnson Space Center was mostly just a maze of buildings, one of which had a Mercury capsule or two. My cousin’s family lived there at Clear Lake when it was just building up from the swamp land. Upon my first visit from the Pineywoods of my youth, to Houston, then about the seventh largest city in the nation — today it is No. 4 — my cousins took me to their neck of the woods where all the astronauts lived. So I thought about the Mercury 7 astronauts. I knew them by heart as they were my true heroes. I liked Scott Carpenter the best. He just seemed like a laid-back guy. But I also though Wally Schirra was quite a fellow.

So searching through the massive phone book, passed the Schafers and the Schexnadyers, there I found Schirra and I think it was “Walter” or “Walter M. Schirra.” But he was the only one in the phone book and the only one living in Clear Lake. I might have been a dumb ol’ country boy, but I ‘wuden t stupid.’

I called but didn’t expect anyone home except maybe his wife or their cleaning lady, whom I imagined was Negro (as we said in polite company as “black” was not yet discovered in that time.) As a matter of fact, I didn’t even fathom that they might have a Hispanic maid. I didn’t know any Latinos back then. They were all foreign and lived way South. Anyway, lo and behold, I called Wally Schirra’s house and this voice somewhere above baritone answered: “Hello.”

In my 12-year-old voice I tried to speak as a grown-up: “Hello. Mr. Schirra?” He answered “yes.” I don’t know what all I talked to him about. But he was nice. He was even sympathetic about my Uncle Ted’s funeral. I then told him thank you and goodbye. I don’t know why I never told anyone about this. I suppose it was because I wasn’t supposed to be goofing on the phone.

Later in life, when I worked as a reporter, I called a few important people on the phone who wondered how in the hell I got their number. I talked to President Bush’s press secretary Scott McLellan after a White House reporter from Texas gave me the number. I talked to former FBI director William Sessions after talking to his son, U.S. Rep. “Just Call Me Pete” Sessions, who gave me the number. A reporter from a sister paper in Palm Beach gave me former Attorney General Janet Reno’s phone number. She was quite surprised I called!

Like everything in this old world, it seems, has gotten more complicated and meaner.

Today there is “swatting,” which involves getting a SWAT team to descend on famous or even not so famous people. It seems the rage these days. It’s even become international.

Things, you know what I’m talking about, no longer what they once were. And thus they will never be.