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Showing posts from May, 2011

Skype and EasyBitsGo

I’ve had Skype on my computer for a good long while.I use it on occasion to video chat with my Colorado daughter and her kids.It’s fun and free, you know?
This morning when I turned on my computer, I noticed that I had a new program installed in my taskbar titled “EasyBitsGo”.I didn’t install it, so I did a little checking and found that Skype now installs this little gem automatically, without permission, on computers owned by users who have done the unthinkable—Using Skype.
It took me a cool hour to remove this thing.My understanding is that it’s a piece of game software—always problematic in my view.I didn’t ask for it, I don’t’ want it, and Skype should be ashamed.
Should you need to know how to remove EasyBitsGo from your Windows XP machine, here’s what I had to do:
-First, I completely removed Skype via the Control Panel add/remove programs utility. -Next, I re-started my computer. -Then I went back to the Control Panel add/remove utility and removed the EasyBitsGo program, but it too…

Reckoning

Scott Cousins is a reserve outfielder for the Florida Marlins who’s hitting something under the Mendoza line—or, as we baseball folks say, he’s still on the Interstate.In other words, in Major League Baseball he’s no big deal.
Buster Posey is the cleanup hitter, starting catcher, and reigning rookie of the year for the San Francisco Giants.In other words, he’s the franchise.He’s a very big deal.
So, when Cousins elected to take out Posey in an unnecessary home plate collision (unnecessary because Cousin’s path to the plate was clear), No Big Deal ended the season of Very Big Deal.With a broken leg and torn ligaments.
A rule change to prevent this sort of unnecessary contact has been proposed—Simply require base runners to slide into home like they’re required to slide into every other base where contact might be expected.Fine.Frankly, I’m not on the “change the rules” bandwagon.
What Cousins did is a maneuver that’s specifically intended to injure the opposing player.Not illegal, but very…

I Dreamed I Was On The Road With Jack Kerouac In My Ray Ban Drifters

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El Gato Blanco

A white tomcat lives with us.He’s what’s known in the feline world as a Rag Doll.He’s my buddy, and he’s a lucky boy to have me.And me him.
He entered my life when he was very tiny.As a baby he slept with me, and wrapped himself around my sleeping head.I’d awake with him bunched up around my pillow.He did all of his kitten business in my bedroom—eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, and sand-boxing.
He was pretty aggressive, and those who are in the know, know this—a Rag Doll gets some size.So, when he had attained the correct age, he was neutered and de-clawed.Not that any of that made him less likely to bite.Yep, he’s a biter.Not so much now, but as a teen-ager, he was awful.But, he loved me in his own way, and I him.
I’ve pretty much always shared my living quarters with a tomcat, starting when I could barely walk.Always was in the company of a tomcat.I like it that way.
This tomcat’s name is Quigley, and he’s got a swagger—when he walks, he has the gait and demeanor of a tiger.Plus, he…

I Dreamed I Was In A Dogfight With A Russian MIG In My Ray Ban Aviators

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My Girls Like It Better When I Wear My Ray Ban Sunglasses

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What I Think Today

Well, I think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  I think that we should buy American.  I think that Mount St. Helens is gonna blow again.  I think the curveball in a full count is cowardly.  I think the price of bottled water is outrageous.  I think the full moon really does bring out the weirdness in people.  I think that there's a place in France where the women wear no pants.  And, from a reliability perspective, Wikipedia might as well be written by monkeys.

Driver Training

I’ve started training to be a driving instructor.I’ll be a “behind the wheel” guy.In other words, I’ll be the passenger in the car while I try to teach a 15 and a half year olds how to drive and not get killed in the process.
I’ve already done about 40 hours of unpaid training, and still have to take a written examination (for which I’m cramming for the next two days), and then a behind the wheel examination at the state police office.With any luck whatsoever, I’ll pass them both.Provided I can still parallel park.
I’ve noticed some interesting differences in California driving, where I knew all the rules well, and here in Ohio, where the rules are somewhat different—But I’m getting adjusted.
In California, one could depend on limit lines at intersections and relatively flat roads.Not so here—Limit lines are hit and miss (pardon the terminology—I’m not really trying to teach or learn the “hitting” part), and there are potholes that would qualify as sink holes in L.A.
Occasionally, you’ll …

Quotations That Might Just Mean Something--Maybe Not

My mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake
and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you
how to swim.'- Paula Poundstone

A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills
than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: Duh.-Conan O'Brien

Did you ever walk in a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's
how dogs spend their lives."-Sue Murphy

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is
suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best
friends. If they're okay, then it's you.-Rita Mae Brown

Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent
image there. I think if you've got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it,
maybe laundry isn't your biggest problem. Maybe you should get rid of the
body before you do the wash.-Jerry Seinfeld

The Swiss have an interesting army. Five h…

How to transfer your cell phone from AT&T to Virgin Mobile

I dumped AT&T cell phone service because I got into a snit with them.Or, more accurately, them with me.I ended up going with Virgin Mobile, even though it's mostly geared for a, well, younger crowd, for some good reasons.There's no contract and it’s less expensive for what you get.It runs on the Sprint network, so if Sprint is OK where you live, Virgin Mobile should be OK too.The downside is that you have to buy your phone up front, and it has to be a Virgin Mobile phone.No SIM card to swap like with AT&T.I bought our phones from Wal Mart.They were less expensive that at the Virgin Mobile website (virginmobileusa.com).
Before you start, assemble your last AT&T bill (if you don't have it you can print it out from AT&T’s website—ATT.COM).Your bill will have all of the information on it that Virgin Mobile’s representative will need.
Call 1-888-322-1122 from a land line phone and when the automated voice gives you options, say, "Start up service".At the…

The Little Dog

We have a little dog.Her name is Lil, and she's just shy of a year old now.We got her at a flea mart from a woman who claimed she was some sort of designer dog, but the little dog, like my wife and me, is a mutt.It’s better that way—believe me.
Her mom was certainly a Yorkshire terrier, and her dad, well, he was most likely a travellin’ man.Based on Lil’s appearance, he had some Chihuahua in him, and probably some Weiner dog too.Maybe some other stuff as well—a perfect example of generations of random dog sex.
Lil is the Best Dog Ever.About that there can be no doubt.She's a 10 pounder, and has a heart as big at the great outdoors.She's little, but fierce.And scruffy.
She sleeps with us, and likes expensive dog food.
I go to the grocery store on occasion and always buy some cold cuts—My wife gives about half of the cold cuts to the dog.The little dog doesn’t much care for doing her duty in the rain—and it rains a lot here in Northeast Ohio—so she gets to go to the bathroom whe…

Wisdom Teeth

I have a best friend.His name is Frank, and we go back a pretty fair distance—We are now separated by many miles, since he remains in California, while I have fled that particular brand of insanity in favor of the Ohio version of insanity.I know why he stayed, though.His grandkids.
He’s the sort of friend upon whom I can rely regardless of the request.And, it’s a two way street.He can rely on me, too.And we both know it, although it’s never been said out loud.Like I said—best friends.Brothers in most respects, other than the fact that we had different parents.At least I’m reasonably certain of that.
So I needed a ride to the oral surgeon’s office to have my wisdom teeth removed, at the behest of my dentist.A capital idea.I called Frank and arranged for him to take me there and pick me up when it was over.
The receptionist at the oral surgeon’s off ice was a casual acquaintance of mine, Santa Rosa being a smallish town in just SO many ways back in the 1970’s.Also of note at this point is …

My Chin

I have a spot on my chin.It’s not a zit, really.It might be an ingrown hair, or maybe a wen.Maybe some witch or another has cursed me.No matter how often I remove it, it comes back.
It’s not discolored, and barely noticeable to anyone but me.It’s not a wart.I don’t know what it is, but it’s there.Most of the time.
No one has ever said anything about it, but I’m not sure if that’s because they don’t see it or they might know that I always carry a gun.
It’s not a freckle, and it’s not a mole.I still don’t know what it is.
Sometimes I think that my wife has done something to me in the night when I’m asleep so that she can remove it at a later time.No, she’s most likely too nice to do something like that.But maybe not.Men in general, and me in particular, never really know what goes on in a woman’s mind.So maybe she HAS done something that makes this spot seem bigger some days, and gone on others.
Last night, in bed, my wife brought out the tweezers, a pin, a cotton ball, and a flashlight.Util…

I Liked It Better

I liked it better back when there was no such entity as Major League Baseball.Back when there was the National League with it’s own president and umpires and rules, and the American League with it’s own president, umpires, and rules.
I liked it better before free agency, when baseball was still inexpensive enough that a working stiff could afford to take his family to a game.Give me the reserve clause any day.It’s upside-down world when some of the players (for all I know, most of them) make more than the manager of the club and the president of the United States combined.
Not that I’ll quit rooting for my Giants any time soon, but before free agency, you could depend on a stable roster, and a fan could count on most the same team showing up for Spring Training as the team who ended the previous season.
I liked it better before the designated hitter rule.What idiocy.
I liked it better before the wild card.Divisional baseball was bad enough, but then the wild card.A team should have to act…

Screen Savers

My understanding is that current monitor technology has eliminated the need for screensavers.  Oh, hogwash--they're WAY too much fun to completely eliminate.  Windows ships with some cool ones, but the best are the oldies.  Johnny Castaway.After Dark.
Those goodies above have some issues running under modern versions of Windows, like W2K, ME, and XP.  What will and won't work varies based on your OS and which saver you're trying to get to work.  I just wish that my two old favorites (After Dark and Johnny Castaway) were updated.  I'd buy new copies.  I have a wireless network at home and keep a Windows 98 machine in the mix so I can use After Dark on it.  It just doesn't seem to work on later versions of Windows.  The network includes computers running XP, W2K, Win98, Mac OSX, and a nice little sampling of Linux distributions.  I continue to use Microsoft products because they work.  I like Linux, too.  My wife likes Mac. 
Don’t even start with my about the iPad.Or, …

The 1970's

The 1970’s were good for me.I miss them—Like all things in decades, though, the 70’s really started for me later in the decade, not January 1st 1970.I think it’s always like that.The 60’s didn’t really start until around 1964—you know what I mean….
In late 1971, I returned to civilian life a after my 3 years in the service of my country—within a few days, I was employed as a master craftsman at Maherajah Water Ski in Healdsburg, California.I know that I was a master craftsman because the pin-up calendar proclaimed that master craftsmen crafted Maherajah water skis—so I must have been one.My actual job was to apply Verathane to the edges of the wooden slabs as needed, and screw in the metal blade at the rear of the ski.Being “craftsman-like” was important in the 70’s.That alone might explain the popularity of the Sears & Roebuck (BTW, whatever became of Roebuck anyhow??) catalog.
A couple of months later, I was hired by the Sonoma County Sheriff to work in the service of my County.Th…

Spring

Here in Youngstown, Ohio, we haven’t had much of a Spring yet.It’s been rainy and cool—I had a fire in the fireplace as late as last week when the low was 34.
So it was a bit of a surprise today when the high was in the 80’s—and it was humid and thunderstormy like in late Summer.Still, except for the birds and the bulbs sprouting and the chipmunks and the squirrels and the lack of snow and baseball season……Wait—I guess that pretty much defines Spring.
OK, then—Spring has sprung.
One easy way to tell is that my Bride is transplanting bulbs, and digging holes in the yard and making trips to Lowe’s for annuals.That ALWAYS means Spring.
As for me, I spent the humid and warm afternoon in the back yard doing some repairs to the deck that wraps around the rear of the house and is one of my favorite parts of this place.I just didn’t realize a couple of things.One is that I’m no longer 25, and the other is that after a long cold Winter, a humid 80 degree day can really take it outta this feller.
I …

Major League Baseball

Here’s the part that I don’t understand.I pay a hefty sum (in JimWorld Dollars) to Major League Baseball to watch all the live MLB games for the entire season on my computer.I do this because I’m a San Francisco fan living in Northeast Ohio, and that’s the only way I can get them—well, the cheapest way.I could buy the Time Warner Cable package, but it’s more expensive.But my point is that I PAY MLB FOR THE GAMES!!
So, Monday was a day off for the Giants, but not for the Dodgers and the Pirates, who were playing in Pittsburgh.I’m a sort of Pittsburgh fan, and I usually go to a game or two every year.And, being a good Giants fan, I’m ALWAYS looking for the Dodgers to lose.So, I fired up the computer and launched the application to watch the game—Since I live in Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh is only an hour away, you’d think that Time Warner Cable would carry the games on at least one of their myriad of sports channels, but they don’t.The only way to get Pittsburgh games on TV here is …

The Scope--Revisited

Don’t tell me that you weren’t warned.After all, I did say that I’d follow up on this thing.
My Bride took me to the surgery center on Tuesday morning at the appointed time.Which turned out to be 6:30 in the A of M.Which meant that I had to arise at the unholy hour of 4:45 in the A of M.So that I could ingest the second portion of the serious laxative.So that Doctor Patel could see whatever it was that he had to see.With no, um, obstructions.When he looked deep into the bowels of the Jim.With a TV camera.
Believe me when I tell you that there were no obstructions.
I was given an IV by a very nice nurse, and that’s all I remember until I groggily awoke in the recovery room.I was told that the entire process lasted about 20 minutes.
No pain, no grief.Other than the taste of the serious laxative, which was awful.
The doctor told me that he removed one polyp, whatever that is, but that it looked benign.Nevertheless, he’s going to have it examined and interrogated, and let me know the outcome.H…

The Scope

I’m headed in to the local surgery center for a colonoscopy today.I know, I know—TMI.But, it’s on my mind, so you get to know all about it too.
Although I’m going to go to a “surgery center”, I consider this something more akin to a “procedure”, as the retirees in Florida might say.My doctor says that they’re going to look for….um, anything out of the ordinary, I guess.
This all started a couple of months ago after a fairly long bus trip that I took (the bus trip itself is a story for another time), and when I finally got home, I found that I couldn’t do a #2 in the bathroom, if you get my meaning.Actually, the old #2 was conspicuous by it’s absence for a week.So, I called my doctor, who said, and I think this is an actual quote, “If it’s been a week, there’s nothing I can do—go to the emergency room”.Which I did.
They discovered that I had a case of “divertic-you-something or other”, and infection of my lower GI, I was told, and I was admitted to the hospital, given a not quite private …

Baby Boomer

Being a member of the Baby Boom generation has been written about to exhaustion, but I’ll write about it on occasion too.I’m sure that it makes an interesting study, but for me it was just my life.
The biggest single issue that cropped up for me was that no one was ever prepared for our massive numbers—it started when we showed up for kindergarten.What had once been a slow moving, eddy-filled elementary school, suddenly became The Spot for Everything.Double sessions for Kindergarten—Something unheard of before 1954 in little ol’ Windsor, California.Apparently, our collection of parents sneakily produced a whole bunch of kids, and then hid them out until they were ready for school.It’s the only possible explanation.
The classrooms I grew up in had 40 students or so.I’m not altogether certain, but I think we managed to learn enough to survive even under those brutal conditions—don’t know quite how, but we also seemed to have survived even though our parents SMOKED CIGARETTES!!Even in the …

Confidence

It happened like this:
My eldest daughter, Helen, began her school days at JX Wilson Elementary School in Santa Rosa, California in the mid-1980’s.Her best friend in kindergarten was Hillary Beverlin.A couple of years later, when the girls had reached that magical age where they could join Brownies, we all discovered that there was no Bownie troop at JX Wilson.So Helen’s Mom and Hillary’s Mom contacted the local Girl Scout Council, got all of the details, and started a Brownie troop.
Oh, spirits were high—we sold cookies and had meetings and bought uniforms and marched in the Rose Parade, and….whew….We did lots.And we had fun.And then there was an opportunity to do an overnight adventure—As I recall at this late date, we were to spend the night locked up inside the Santa Rosa Plaza—Our beloved mall.
But the troop couldn’t do it.Because for an overnight event, the troop must have leaders we were certified in both CPR and Advanced First Aid.And neither of the Mom’s were so certified at tha…

The Ghost

We’ve never met, but you’re always there.
I walk around my house every day accompanied by a ghost.This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different than the rest of my life had been.When I met my wife, she had been a widow for 12 years or so.Her husband was Jack Byrom, and he’s the father of her three children.Cancer took him far too early, and left my wife with three young children to raise on her own.She was also left with equity in a house and a life insurance policy, but her life was substantially altered.
Jack had been a psychiatrist and had a practice in Bakersfield, California and, as part of his work dealt with child molesters regularly.During the same time frame (the early 1980’s) I was a police Detective for the city of Santa Rosa, California, and as part of my work, dealt with child molesters regularly.Jack and I have chewed some of the same dirt, you might say.
From all accounts, Jack was a fine father and a good man.From my understanding, my step-son Drew looks most li…

The Giant Eagle

When I lived in California, I bought my groceries at places named Raley’s, Safeway, and Albertson’s.Good solid grocery store names.When I was just a wee lad, my Sainted Mother bought the family groceries at Purity Market in Healdsburg, California.There is no more Purity in Healdsburg, and I’m not just talking exclusively grocery stores.
Here in the greater Youngstown, Ohio area, we have the Sparkle Market chain (with their late 50’s caricature mascot “Sparky”), Rulli Brothers markets (a chain of two Italian Deli’s that somehow managed to grow into grocery stores), and the big one—Giant Eagle.I believe that the Giant Eagle chain is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I can only guess at the chain of events that led to a Supermarket chain being named “Giant Eagle”.I cannot imagine that the name “Giant Eagle” was premeditated.Must have been some sort of corporate merger between the Giant Grocery and Eagle Stores somewhere in the distant, misty past.Or maybe two guys named Bill Giant and Ted…

The Office of Traffic Engineering

There’s a thrift store in Austintown, Ohio that I frequent—It’s called Village Thrift and there’s always some neat stuff to peruse and consider.I usually buy something.Today I found an old artist’s case—a magnificent wooden box with fitted joints—in perfect shape, still containing a large assortment of oil paints, a palette, and—TADA!!—a cover from a 1967 Good Housekeeping.Mrs. Young fancies herself an artist (I do too), and I bought it for the not so princely sum of 6 bucks American.
There’s always a surprise at Village Thrift.I thought that today’s surprise was the artist’s box, but then, in the parking lot, I was hammered with the real surprise of the day.Sitting at idle in a deserted corner of the parking lot was a City of Youngstown truck with a city employee behind the wheel—On the door of the truck, around the city seal, were the words “Traffic Engineer”.What?!? He said??I had no idea that we had traffic engineers in Youngstown—well, OK, technically he was in Austintown, but you…

Followers

I see that I now have a "Follower".  Nothing can quite compare to the elation that accompanies the very idea that someone might enjoy this stuff.  'Course, I recognize the icon as belonging to my beloved step-daughter.  That only enhances the idea though--you see, that means that even if she doesn't particularly like the writing, she likes me.

Root Beer

When we moved to Ohio, I became re-acquainted with the different varieties of root beer.I’d forgotten.Really.
Every brand has a different taste and the foaminess is different—There seems to be a larger variety here in Ohio than I remember ever being available in California.
I have a couple of favorites here, including “FrosTop” and “Boylan”.There are others.
Root beer has it, um, roots, in Colonial America as a small beer, sometimes with some alcoholic content, sometimes not, and there’s really no single recipe for it.
Wikipedia has an interesting article on root beer at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_beer.In general, I don’t much trust Wikipedia.My view on that endeavor is that monkeys might as well have written it, but that’s a story for another day.Credit where credit is due and all that—their missive on root beer is frosty indeed.Another sassafras induced article on root beer is located at http://inventors.about.com/od/rstartinventions/a/root_beer.htm, and is worth the time to take…

Shell Oil Company--An Open Letter

I wrote this letter to Shell Oil Company nearly a month ago.  They've yet to respond (and they have my e-mail address, my residence address, and my home and cell phone numbers), and I don't suppose that they will--Probably a good calculation on their part inasmuch as there's probably nothing that they could say or do to satisfy me....On the other hand, if they'd have contacted me, I wouldn't have published this.  Here it is:


4-10-2011 Shell Oil Company P.O. Box 2463 Houston, Texas77252


To Whom It May Concern …..
My affiliation with Shell Oil Gas Stations begins as a child in the 1950’s in Northern California. For some reason, my father preferred Shell gasoline to other brands and, as a result, I have always veered towards the trademarked Shell emblem for my fuel needs.
As a teen-ager, once again in Northern California (Windsor, California, if that matters), I began working as a gas station attendant in 1965.I worked at the Windsor Shell for a man named Joe Woodard until I…

Moving to Ohio

I retired from public service in Sonoma County, California in 2003.I’d had it with the nuttiness of Northern California in general, and it was pricey for a retired honest cop.Plus, I’d been divorced a couple of times and lived in a two bedroom condo on the edge of gang-land.Gunshots every night and helicopters overhead.A real dandy place, and not what the Chamber of Commerce lets you in on in the Wine Country.
So I sold out and moved to Bakersfield, California, where house prices and politics were more to my liking.I bought a small house in a trim neighborhood.I have two daughters and, at that time, one was an adult and the other was finishing up high school in Sonoma County.When she graduated from High School, she moved in with me in Bakersfield.
Not long after that, I met the current Mrs. Young, and we subsequently married.Mrs. Young had three offspring of her own, a girl and two boys.All grown.When we met, I’d been single for 15 years or so, and she’d been a widow for 12.But it was k…

Teamwork

I needed a job.It was really as simple as that.Well, nothings really that simple.What I needed was some income--had someone offered to just give me some money on a regular basis, I would have NOT needed a job.That benefactor not being in attendance, I needed a job.It really was as simple as that.There's a limited number of things that I do well enough to get paid for.That's also a plain fact.One of the things I do well enough is catching criminals.
So I got a job as the shoplifter guy at K- Mart in Boardman, Ohio.The Big K.I knew it wouldn't last.Everyone's a member of a "Team", and every supervisor is a "Coach".The service desk person (who answers the phone), has to say "welcome to K-Mart, what can I help you discover today?"What a mouthful--especially when you've got three lines ringing with the problems of grand magnitude to be resolved without ever discovering a thing.What can you help me discover?A way to make a living utterly sepa…

What I Think Today

I like the X-Files, the Jesse Stone novels by Robert Parker, the Beach Boys, and Kevin Costner movies.  I am at least somewhat bothered by dirty nails, people who took EST training seriously and the very existence of sushi as a food source.
I believe that the only true Captain of the Enterprise is James T. Kirk, and I know what the "T" stands for.  None of that makes me a trekkie, but I can be a little geeky with computers from time to time.
I believe that America will endure, in accepting life as it presents itself, and that good things don't necessarily happen to good people, nor bad to bad.
I think that the worst programming decision ever made by FOX was the cancellation of Brimstone after only 13  episodes.And the best was renewing the X-Files for as long as they did.

The Chili Cook-Off

We have church functions from time to time, and I like them.Except for the preaching.I like the preacher but not so much the preaching.No wonder I'm always confused.Just the same with protest songs, which I universally enjoy, but the protesters themselves.......just can’t stomach them.
It was the time of year when the church is raising money by squeezing blood from turnips.I'm one of the turnips.My wife had the idea of combining a Celtic service, which was sure to attract lots of people, with a chili cook-off.The idea was roundly applauded, and plans were made and committees formed.It was the best of times.Hands were raised and recipes, both secret and overt, were plotted.Vegetarian.Bison.Turkey.Venison.Betty Crocker.Groundhog.While the concept belonged to my wife (who would expect a chili cook-off in Ohio, after all?), she did not wish to participate in the competition itself, or so she said.
On the eve of the competition, my wife decided that she wanted to cook.She made a pot …