Thoroughly Modern

Everything in my digital life is in a constant state of updating.

Business accounting software new version.  New version uses Microsoft .NET Framework.  Microsoft .NET Framework updates.  Java updates.  Flash player updates. 

Please wait.

This may take a few moments.

Your virus definitions have been updated.

Real Player updates are available - update now? 

It never ends.

It didn't used to be like this.  Why, in my day, computers was called typewriters.  And you got a new (used) typewriter, what, every ten years or so?  Why in my day a major update was going from four part invoices with carbon paper to five part NCR forms. 

But actually, THIS is my day.  Today.  Now.  The update-crazy day.  Maybe not a bad thing either, since it serves to emphasize the essential fluidity of being.  Oh there are fixed points too, don't think I've gone all Heracleitus on you.  But so much is evolving, changing, and undefined in the present age (read: the current economy). 

Soon a majority of our working-age population will be people for whom constant updating  is normal.  Given.  The way things are. 

What does this world view do to the idea of permanency?  Permanent relationships.  Unshakable values.  "Unalienable rights"  Absolute truth. 


Lie Nucks

Who remembers the Peanuts comic strip?  Show of hands?  Good.  Now, Charlie Brown's philosophic friend was called...

No, he wasn't called LIH-nuss.  Anybody else? 

Very good!  His name was Linus.  LIE-nuss. 

Okay.  So.  Once upon a time there lived a man named Linus Torvalds.  He was the main dude behind the creation of a computer operating system that geeks the world over love to love because it is not Microsoft or Macintosh:  Linux.  The OS name is based on the man's name. 

Here's where it gets sticky.  Torvalds is Finnish.  Like as in from Finland.  He actually pronounces his name LEE-nuss. 

Do people call the OS LEE-nucks?  Of course not. 

Believe it or not, young'uns, back in the early to mid 1990s the people who were actually using  LINUX (do do things like post and read USENET newsgroup messages) called it LIE-nucks.  And they called Linus Torvalds LIE-nuss, like the comic strip character that Mr. Torvalds admits he was (at least partly) named after. 

LIE-nuss.  LIE-nucks.  Because this is America, not ferthelovagod Finland or France or some such heathen socialist backwater. 

LIE-nucks.  If nothing else the pronunciation will annoy


I know it's hard, but...

Sometimes the truth is hard.  That's where you need somebody who can act solely in your best interest.  Crowndot is here to help you with your file suffix pronunciation. 

Graphics Interchange Format files end in ".gif" and so are pronounced with the same hard G we use for "graphics" (not the J sound we use in "giraffe").  So "roomba-cat.gif" is pronounced ROOM-buh kat dot giff.

"Jif" is a peanut butter.  And yes, that means I am saying Steve Wilhite should just shut up and concede defeat by the forces of nature. 

We're here to help.


It's all in the timing

After a three day weekend, Tuesday feels like Monday.  Remembering after getting home after an extra-innings day at work (more and more of those lately, it seems) that today is a scheduled run day, I instead collapse into a chair.  What's the matter with me?  Oh yeah, I didn't have much lunch, and what I did have was six hours ago.  Dear sweet Mrs. Crowndot makes dinner. Aah.  That feels better.  Wow, I bet I could even go for a run now.  Except that the alimentary canal resembles a boa constrictor that just swallowed its monthly capybara. 

If I want to stick to the run schedule, I have to plan the whole day around it.


The best man I knew

My high school classmate Ed had a great laugh.  And frequently he was laughing at me.  I was a liberal at age 16, and he ridiculed my go-out-and-save-the-world enthusiasm.  At the time I thought I wanted to be a journalist, so I could fight for the right and bring down the establishment. 

Ed was going to be  the establishment.  He wanted to fly.  He was going to join the Navy, become a pilot, stay a few years, and then go work for an airline. 

I did not become a journalist.  I read the Great Books, fell in love.  Changed my politics (the Carter economy had a lot to do with that).  Got a job.  Got married. Got so busy I lost contact with pretty much everybody.

Ed did join the Navy.  And damn if he didn't have the smarts and the guts to become a Navy pilot after all. 

I heard about his death around Christmas in 1983.  Ed was pilot of a U.S. Navy aircraft on a taxiway at a stateside base.  Something went wrong with another plane and it came over and hit his aircraft.  Four men killed, as I recall.  But the only one I cared about was Ed.  I can't find any information now.  It has gotten to where if I can't find it on the internet, I start to doubt my memory.  Plus I'm getting old.

Anyway.  Damn.  He was a good man. 

His death makes as little sense to me now thirty years later as it did at the time.  Those deaths "in the line of duty" don't always make "sense" and they are not always Hollywood material. 

We used to tease each other mercilessly in high school. 

Thinking of you today, Ed. 



Civilization is beyond being saved by me. 

In extent alone the contribution of one curmudgeonly blogger is statistically insignificant.

But:  Donne. Island. Man.  Yes, in intent, the individual has an unknowable effect upon the whole of society, effect that passes down generations as well as across family and other boundaries.

This is by way of creeping up on the admission that I wear the necktie as infrequently as possible. 

There was a time when I strenuously sought to remedy the slide of our times into the Gomorrah or Gehenna or the Local Landfill -- by means of personal appearance (neck wear included).  I got over that. 

The necktie is a class signifier as relevant today as the gown and powdered wig in the courts of the United Kingdom.  That is, I'm open to the possibility that it has its place in certain civic and financial settings, up to the civic-cum-religious (in the Virgilian "pious Aeneas" sense).  Weddings and funerals are formal civic occasions in all their appearance, even as they are private spiritual exercises invisibly.  Thus I am willing to maintain "marrying and burying" clothes. 

Oh yes: civilization. 

Well it's looking like the day will come when we're more likely to save civilization with a camouflage uniform than a tailored civic financial/political uniform; the neckties involved may end up being rope not colored silk.  A terrifying possibility.  In the meantime:  neckties.

Neckties.  As Matthew Quigley said of the handgun, after he shoots Dobkin, O'Flynn and (Alan Rickman!!) Marston before they can even aim their guns, then walks up to a dying Marston:  "I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it."


Happy bird-day to you...

I do most of my bird watching by ear.

Cedar waxwings this morning.  Didn't try to see them out in the pepper tree across the street. 

During the course of the day I keep a kind of subconscious tally of species.

Scrub jay.  Mockingbird. Crow. House finch.  English Sparrow.  Song Sparrow.  Meadowlark...

Even when driving across town, when the windows are down.  White-crowned sparrow.  Goldfinch.  Bewick's Wren.  Turkey (!). 

Morning meadowlarks along the fence line across from work, happy house finches in the afternoon, sleepy golden-crowned sparrows in the evening, all make me smile. 

And I don't even have to catch a glimpse.



Kind of a cross between The Bomb and Titanic. 

See, I'm getting tired of comparisons between the IRS, DOJ, and other scandals in the current executive branch, and the Nixon White House of forty years ago. 

Nixon was not a crook.  In many ways, he was a great American patriot.  To tell you the truth, there are lots of things in Mr. Nixon's presidency about which I am still more concerned than the break-in at the Watergate:  price controls (the consequent meat shortage is still a painful memory), the darkening of Christmas lights due to the "energy crisis", the creation of the EPA, and the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit (to name a few). 

Calling every scandal Something-Gate diminishes the impact of the "something" in question, and only makes it harder to find a scale of historical perspective.  If your only unit of linear measurement is the millimeter, just about everything is going to fall into the category of hecka big.  If your only unit of ethical measurement is the Watergate break-in, your evaluation of every other scandal will be ethically problematic. 

IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits is not "Nixonian".

Abuse of the most intrusive arm of the executive branch goes far beyond Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Paula Jones, Abu Ghraib, or Freddie Mac.  The IRS selective targeting of political enemies, and the DOJ targeting of troublesome journalists, are of an entirely different order.  This is not an overreaching avarice at work.  This is a grasping for power at the expense of fundamental liberty. 

This administration is not Nixonian.  This administration is OBAMIC.


Bacon Cupcake

I dreamed last night that I was eating chocolate cupcakes made with bacon fat shortening, with bacon frosting and bacon-bits sprinkles.  (Does that indicate a nutritional deficiency -- like not enough bacon?)  Right now I am at work, and the atmospheric conditions are wafting bacon and sausage and maple scents from the diner up the hill into the front of the building -- nobody else seems to be able to smell it but me.

And ... I've gotta say that my life is more complete because of the many results for my Bing Images search for "bacon cupcake"!!!


Death and taxes

Federal Income Tax
State Income Tax (California)
State Sales Tax
County Sales Tax
Extra 1/2% "Keep On Spending" Sales Tax
State Disability Insurance Tax
Medicare Tax
Social Security Tax
Federal Gas Tax
State Gas Tax
Excise Tax - Tires, Ammo, Hunting Supplies
Phone Tax - Hearing Impaired & "Obamaphones"
Automobile Registration (Tax)
Smog Certificate (California) (Tax)
Toll Bridge Crossing (Tax)
Already - Health Insurance Premium Increases (Obamacare Tax)

What have I left out?

And then there's the dilution of the currency for the purpose of financing the nation's debt -- an additional 4% plus tax per year that even depletes SAVINGS !

I figure if I keep working I'll start making money some time around August.

*UPDATE*  --  Oh yeah, there's the Property Tax too -- so maybe I'll get to have some personal income around the end  of August.


Dedicated to helping

"Northeast (front) and northwest facades from north - 
Clara Barton House, 
5801 Oxford Road, George Washington Memorial Parkway, 
Glen Echo, Montgomery County, MD"  

The American Red Cross was born on 21 May 1881 when Clara Barton convened its first official meeting.

The Red Cross is still very much alive and giving aid where needed -- such as this week in Oklahoma.

Disaster relief donations to the National American Red Cross can be made online here.

The start of something

On 20 May 1916, the Saturday Evening Post first featured on the cover the work of Norman Rockwell.  It must have worked -- they kept buying his cover art for forty years or so. 

People who love to hate Norman Rockwell have a problem with his representational art.  They wish he were deconstructing the expectations of the viewer, or some such art-jargon.  But dude, that's what he is  doing.



Yes, smalls.  In particular, men's smalls.  I know: too much information.

 Never. The. Less.

In the men's shorts world, there is choice of many unsatisfactory arrangements for the bottom half.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs...  Within this world, the available products are made almost entirely by Hanes or by Fruit-of-the-Loom. 

H and FOL have demonstrated their misandry by introducing products for eunuchs, products for donkeys; products made of moisture-impervious materials, products made of industrial abrasives; products that bind in one place and are loose in another, products that are loose in one place and bind in another.  So there are lots of choices.  Without even getting into the choice between the products that fall apart after the first wash, and those that fall apart over the course of half a year of normal use. 

Yes I realize that there are more options if you want to think outside the box:  commando; athletic specialties / European designerwear; gay partywear ("not that there's anything wrong with that").  But those are either "for occasional use, only as directed" or far too pricey for this author to countenance the purchase of the eight to twelve units I like to have in stock. 

It occurs to me:  Hanes and Fruit-of-the-Loom are the Macintosh and Microsoft of the underwear world.  They both hate us, and it's just a question of which is the least uncomfortable fit.  Moreover, the great fit and function you bought last time is a.) not available any more;  b.) dumbed down to the point that it is now produced offshore so it looks like  the product you knew, but now with the added features of random dimensions, abrasive materials, and self-destruction in the laundry. 

H and FOL meet over a drink and smirk together.  "Where else are they gonna go?"  They slap each other on the back.  "Ubuntu?!"


Old dog, new trick...

I liked my computer setup at work.  Then the accounting software company got bought, changed their philosophy, everything got bigger, more expensive... and required more system resources. 

It serves me right for getting really comfy-cozy with my XP Pro system.  A place for everything and everything in its place -- including that little program from the PS2 days that does hydraulic engineering calculations.  Sigh. 

So now the computer systems as well as everything else (see: Obamanomics) is in flux. 

What is my response?  Get a burr under my saddle about needing a laptop computer.  Oy.  So now I have leapt through time and space from XP to Windows 8.  Like I said:  Oy. 

Took a while just to find the control panel. 

Why is it that everything in life is seemingly out of control? 

Oh, don't mind me.  That's just the cognitive dissonance talking. 

I grow old, I grow old . . .


Become the path

"You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself." - Gautama Buddha

"Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." - Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

"There are clubs you can't belong to, neighborhoods you can't live in, schools you can't get into, but the roads are always open." - Old Nike ad

"Never, ever, ever give up." - Winston Churchill

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." - (I don't know who said this one)

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible." - Doug Larson

"Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down" - Old New Balance ad

"I love hills.  If it weren't for hills, I'd have to bring climbing gear." - overheard at a race

"The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable." - Roger Bannister

"Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right." - Henry Ford

"It’s elevating and humbling at the same time. Running along a beach at sunrise with no other footprints in the sand, you realize the vastness of creation, your own insignificant space in the plan, how tiny you really are, your own creatureliness  and how much you owe to the supreme body, the God that brought all this beauty and harmony into being." - Sister Marion Irvine (2:51 PR and 1984 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier)

"Sure, I 'become the path' -- every time I run trails in summer, half the path comes home stuck in my socks!" - (I just made that one up.)


On this date in history: The Texas Navy (!) does some whoopin'

16 May 1843 saw the conclusion of the Naval Battle of Campeche

Wait, what?  The Texans in sailing ships fought British Officers  commanding Mexican steamships

I don't know about you, but the phrase "Texas Navy" stirs my heart.  Do you think they had Texas Marines?  

Anyway, it was the "First and only time sail bested steam men-of-war!"


Wherein I connect some dots

In 1998 my office manager's mother died suddenly in an automobile accident.  My immediate reaction was horror and sorrow.  I had met her mother a few times; she had a great laugh.  What I said out loud:  "God that sucks."

In summer of 2001 when the anniversary of my own mother's sudden death rolled around, the office manager and I had a sort of blinking-back-tears reminiscence session.  "You know," she said to me, "You were the only person who really said something kind and understanding to me when my mother passed."  That put me in a spot, because I seemed to remember I had said, "God that sucks."

"Um, what do you remember me saying?"

"You said, 'God that sucks.'  That was the most honest and kind thing you could have said."

When the shit hits the fan, the brown is all around.  The smell fills the whole room.  There's no escape.  But some people have an Ignore function, or an invent-your-own-reality function, or something like that.

"Try the All Raw Vegetables Diet -- it will cure your cancer."

"Think one positive thought first thing in the morning -- it will cure your depression."

"Get more exercise -- it will cure your chronic fatigue."

"Your problem is you need to... be more assertive."  Or talk louder, or get more fresh air, or avoid eating corn, or have your colors done.

Worst one ever:  "You should be happy your mother is dead -- she's with God now."  (Someone actually said that to me when my grief was still so raw any gentle breeze made me wince in pain.)

Can't you people see the brown?  Don't you notice that smell?

I may be:  sad, tired, depressed, curmudgeonly, downcast, sick...   but I do have a better hold on reality than an awful lot of people.

But what I wanted to say is that when someone tells me they feel crappy, I mostly don't try to fix it.  Since I know what they mean, I mostly just commiserate.  Maybe I go so far as to ask, "So, how are you coping with that?  Wanna talk about it, or change the subject?"

Maybe that's why, looking back on my 50-plus years of interacting with people on this planet, so many people have opened up to me about their problems.  A sympathetic ear.  Yes, some of them were manipulators.  Some were attention whores.  But some were just relieved that I didn't immediately go into "Let's fix this" mode.  They were helped by a simple admission:  "God that sucks." 


Poem for May Day 2013

A SONG OF SPRING 05/01/2013

A frog he would a woo-ing go...

Thee, thee, thee, thee, thee, thee.

In just-spring...

Can you change the bag in the vacuum cleaner for me?

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white...

You, you, oh, to be with you, be, oh, be, oh, with you, you, you.

Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed...

The carpet is wet there because the dog got sick.

...And let our winds / Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste...

Grrrrrrr.  With you.  With you.  With you.

From you have I been absent in the spring...

The toilet is stopped up.

- - -

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