Sunday, September 29, 2019

Showing A Friend How It's Done

Yes, I'm still here. In case anybody is paying attention.

A friend is interested in starting a blog, so I'm demonstrating how easy it is to post on one's blog.

Setting up a blog to get it ready to make posts is, let's just say, a little bit more complex and time-consuming....

Friday, July 21, 2017

Photobucket, I Am Done With You.

You have gotten on my last nerve with your latest stunt.

Why, what stunt, you ask.

This one:

I assure you, this attempted extortion is going to backfire.

For you lucky folks who haven't experienced this image replacing every single Photobucket-hosted image on your website or blog, a word of explanation. I fired up my blog this morning, only to find that almost every image, including the background and border graphics, had been replaced by one of these.

It seems they want money now for this service that has been free for at least a decade.

Adding insult to injury, downloading one's own Photobucket albums suspiciously does not work. Not only that, the Photobucket site is so clogged with pop-ups and ads, it's nearly impossible to navigate anymore. When I tried running it with an ad blocker and pop-up blocker enabled, I could at least navigate to individual photos without having to close half a dozen ads on the way. But then, when I would click on an individual image so I could download it, until I disabled the ad and pop-up blockers, it would display the above extortion image instead of my photo!

Well, Photobucket, this crazy scheme of yours is NOT going to work with me. Not only will I not pay you, as soon as I manage to extract each and every one of my photos from your site, I will close my account, and I will spread the word far and wide about what you're up to.

Everyone knows the public relations formula ... do something good, the average customer will tell 4 people about it. Do something bad, and the average customer will tell at least twice that many people about it.

I shall eagerly await news of Photobucket's eventual demise. Good riddance.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

There's Only So Much Indignation To Go Around

Warning: This is going to be a long post, and a bit of a rant. So everyone, please take a deep breath and stick with me. Or not. Your choice. :)

A couple of days ago, I saw a Facebook post (from whom, I can’t remember) that fell under the “indignation click-bait” category. You know the type … all those pre-election posts with the screaming headlines along the lines of “OMG, what they just found will sink Hillary/Trump forever!” in pretty much equal number between the two major candidates.

Oppose Trump if you wish on policy matters. You are even free to dislike him personally. That is your right. But save your outrage for things that actually have some substance.

Apparently the latest indignation in the leftward quarters concerns the fact that President Trump can (gasp) draw money out of his own accounts! Release the hounds! Let the impeachment hearings begin!

Can we have a little sanity? Please? As I understand it, all of a sitting president’s personal assets go into a “blind trust,” meaning he (or she) has no say and no knowledge of which assets within, say, an investment portfolio are being bought or sold. This is done, of course, to head off the possibility of the president giving preference in legislative or executive matters to some entity he has a financial interest in.

Having one’s assets in a blind trust does not, however, prevent the owner of the assets from withdrawing money. Again if I understand it correctly, the manager(s) of the blind trust will be the ones to decide which asset(s) are to be liquidated to supply the owner with the requested cash.

I don’t have a trust, and if I did, it wouldn’t be blind, because I am not the president, nor do I hold any other high office. Or any office at all. But to put this in its simplest terms, let’s say I have a savings account at my local bank. (Yes, I know savings accounts are just about the worst investment there is in today’s financial climate, but stick with me here.) I put money in the savings account, and the bank invests that money and pays me a small percentage of the profits on those investments. I have no idea exactly what those investments are, what companies, what funds, etc. And when I withdraw money from the savings account, I do not ask, nor do I really need to know, which assets and which investments will need to be liquidated to give me the cash I’m asking for.

My simple savings account example can be, in large part, extrapolated to the president’s situation. He is entitled to withdraw his own money from the trust, but while he is president, he is not allowed to decide or even to know which assets are being bought and sold to give him the cash. I expect, though, that the trustees would have some guidelines in place as to which sorts of investments are the preferred liquidation targets. This way, they could not, for example, sell off Trump Tower without Trump knowing about it.

So . . . why would the president need cash?

How many of us know that living in the White House is NOT a free ride? Yes, the rent is covered by we the taxpayers, but all personal expenses including food and soap and toothpaste and the like are covered by the resident first family. Laura Bush wrote in her autobiography that every month, they were presented with a bill for groceries and the like. She also wrote that she was “expected” to purchase a large number of designer gowns, on her own dime, in order to keep up the image precedents set by previous first ladies.

A president who, like most, is being paid and accepting the salary for the job, has money to pay those bills and any others he/she incurs for personal expenses. But what about a president who, like Trump or Kennedy before him, is donating his salary to charities? With no income, how are they supposed to pay for groceries? Soap and toothpaste? School expenses for their children? Gas for their personal vehicles back home? The utility bills and homeowners’ insurance for their personal residence back home? Etc., etc., etc.?

Um . . . they withdraw money from their savings account? Or their blind trust?

So, in other words, this whole hullabaloo about Trump spending his own money is just another nothing-burger. You don’t like his policies? That’s your right. You don’t like his hair? Go ahead and pile on. You don’t like his tweets? Tweet back—but please tweet something with substance, not just ad hominem attacks. But don’t get on his case about using his own money to pay his everyday expenses. Okay?

Now, if it were to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the president or any other high government official was using his own money to bribe others or commit treason, that would be an entirely different ball game, worthy of genuine outrage. So far, however, there is no such proof. If there is evidence, let the investigations go forth. But again, at this moment in time, there is no reason to get indignant over President Trump spending his own money for his own expenses.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

They Can Dish It Out But They Can't Take It.

It all started with what I thought was a well-reasoned Facebook post:

Hm. Wearing a safety pin to identify yourself as a "safe person?" That's going to last maybe 5 minutes, and then those who enjoy picking fights will put on their own safety pins, wade into the nearest target-rich environment, and voila. Instant mayhem.

I can hear the ensuing whining already.

Did no one actually think this thing through?

One person responded to ask what I suggested for a solution, since any signal such as a safety pin could be mimicked.

I wrote a rather lengthy and thoughtful reply in which I opined that this whole "safe space" thing is a crock, because how are they going to guarantee a troll-free space? People basically need to suck it up, learn that the world does not revolve around them, and learn how to stand up and defend their beliefs with polite discourse. I also said that no one has a right to never be offended, nor does free speech mean one has a right to be listened to or agreed with.

This person came back asking what if someone were being bullied on a bus or a train because of their race or color, they NEED to know there are safe people around. I replied that true safe people who care to get involved can self-identify and step in, because nothing is going to stop phony safety-pinners who get their sick kicks out of messing with people.

Then the person basically harumphed, used foul language to lash out at "you people," and proceeded to delete their posts. I expect being un-friended will not be far behind.

Edited to add: I was right. I have been un-friended. What a shame. I have enjoyed this person's posts on non-political subjects, and I shall miss them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

I Am SO Done With Robo Calls!

For the three or four of you out there who still have land line phones... I expect you are, like me, ready to SHOOT whoever invented the robo call.

My frustration with my carrier, A T & T Uverse, is that I can manually block numbers--but only 20 numbers can be blocked at a time. If I need to block a new one, I have to first unblock one of the old ones.

It's especially vexing this year, this time of year, with the most contentious national election in my memory underway.

Nomorobo to the rescue! Yesterday morning I was reading one of my favorite blogs and the blogger described this service and the fact that he no longer gets robo calls on his home phone.

I probably broke all speed records going to the site and signing up.

This morning I've received 2 robo calls. Each one rang just once and then was cut off.

So check it out. I can attest that it works with A T & T Uverse phone service, and it does NOT work with Tracfone cell service. But I've got the cell phone covered with an Android call-blocking app.

You're welcome.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Opting Out Of The Windows 10 Lemming Rush

My computer is 4 years old. It runs just fine with Windows 7, thankyouverymuch. I am not at all convinced that (a) Windows 10 will run on this computer, (b) that any or all of my various outdated programs that still work perfectly well (tyvm) can be made to run under Windows 10, assuming the "upgrade" didn't brick the computer, and (c) that the security concerns* being expressed all over the internet are just scaremongering. Nope.

I am told that all editions of Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates until January of 2020.

However... one has to be vewwy, vewwy careful if one does not want to have the Windows 10 "upgrade" inflicted upon their unsuspecting computer.... See, they're being very sneaky, and they have marked it as a "recommended" update. Thus, if your computer is set to download and install recommended updates automatically, you will be "upgraded" to Windows 10 whether you like it or not.

Here is a very good article that explains exactly how not to have this "upgrade" foisted upon you. (You're welcome.) As best I can determine, this procedure will work, for the foreseeable future. If (and when) they invent a further sneak-around to make changes to MY computer without MY permission, all bets are off.... As others have pointed out, Microsoft owns the operating system, and I have purchased a license to use it. But they do NOT own my hardware.

* In case you didn't click over to the Forbes Magazine article, here's a quote:

By default Windows 10 Home is allowed to control your bandwidth usage, install any software it wants whenever it wants (without providing detailed information on what these updates do), display ads in the Start Menu (currently it has been limited to app advertisements), send your hardware details and any changes you make to Microsoft and even log your browser history and keystrokes which the Windows End User Licence Agreement (EULA) states you allow Microsoft to use for analysis.

Hmm. Microsoft as Big Brother? We report, you decide.

And for those whose current Windows 7 (or 8) computer is breathing its last... you can still pick up a brand-new Windows 7 computer at Amazon. There are lots of choices. Brand new, not somebody else's refurbished castoff.

Another thing to be aware of. Many of today's laptops don't come with a CD/DVD drive, apparently because so many people are now "streaming" their content. So if you're shopping, be sure to look out for that.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Carbonite:

Don't lie to me. My backup cannot possibly be up to date when at the same time it's telling me I have 805 files pending for backup!

Monday, April 13, 2015


I just got off the phone with a very pleasant gentleman over at Coe State Park. I called to find out about trail conditions at Hunting Hollow, because all the times I've been there before, I've had to wade across the creek at least a few times along the way. He directed me to the webpage linked above, where they actually have a section on water resources, as well as one on trail conditions. (The latest report indicates that I will not get my feet wet if I go for a hike there soon. Thank you, drought.)

I told him about my experiences with the infamous outhouse*, and we had a good laugh. (My guess that a handicapped-accessible outhouse at the end of 6 miles of bad trail being mandated by the state was correct.) When I mentioned how there is about a 4-inch step up from the ground to the concrete slab (so even if someone in a wheelchair actually made it all the way up there, they would not be able to go those last 4 inches and make use of the outhouse) he actually informed me that the regulations mandate that the outhouse be usable by someone in a wheelchair--but do not actually address the access to said outhouse.

* Link leads to my long-defunct old blog, which is still online, although some of the images in the posts now have broken links. So sue me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So There!

Pig. Pork. Bacon. Sausage. Ham. PigpigpigpigpigpigpigPIG! PIIIIIIIIIG!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming.

In the news today:

Add obesity to cardiovascular disease,  Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Time for another cup, methinks....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who knew? Musings from the dial-up ghetto

Or, trying to upgrade internet in the 21st century.

I will name some names in this post only because the last time I blogged about a banjaxed product, someone from that company actually saw my post and sent me a free widget. So, with that in mind… AT&T, listen up and pay attention!

I sent the following letter this morning to Randall L. Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T:

Dear Sir:

I am writing to draw your attention to a serious deficiency in your system.

Let me state at the outset that your sales representative named T*** in New Mexico is a credit to your company. He has worked very hard on my behalf, but all of his best efforts (and those of his supervisor) were not enough to overcome the flaw in the ordering system.

I have had DSL internet for many years through R*******, a local provider. While they are a very good company and I do prefer to use local businesses as much as I can, their DSL is just too slow for today's needs, so I made the decision to upgrade to Uverse internet plus voice. I placed an order online on Friday, September 19, 2014.

On Saturday, September 20, 2014, I received an email informing me that due to existing service at my address, the order could not be completed, and that I needed to have the existing service disconnected.

I used the online chat feature of the website to converse with someone in tech support, who suggested I call the sales department. I did so, and was connected to T*** in New Mexico. By the end of our conversation, we had concluded that I was essentially stuck in an endless loop; the ordering system at your end would not allow scheduling of installation until the existing service was confirmed to be disconnected; but needless to say, because I work online from home and I take online classes as well, I could not schedule disconnection of the DSL until I knew when the Uverse installers were coming. But the installers could not be scheduled until the sales and ordering system was satisfied, by its own internal criteria, with no overrides able to be done, that the existing service was gone.

Do you see the problem here?

T*** called me back yesterday (Monday, September 22) after speaking to his supervisor. He brought in a support technician named E* from R*******via conference calling and explained the problem. E* said that in his experience, all the Uverse installers needed to do was hot-swap the wires when they got here, and that would turn off the DSL and turn on the Uverse. However, despite every trick that T*** tried to get through the system at his end, he was not able to move the process forward to the point of scheduling installation, and no one in his vicinity had the ability to override.

Thus, while we waited, E* put us on hold and disconnected the DSL at his end, gave T*** a cancellation number, and set me up for a temporary dial-up account. (T*** was horrified at the very thought, as he should be.)

I had to go to B*** B** to purchase a modem because nowadays, laptop computers do not come so equipped.

When I got home from that excursion, I found a message from T*** indicating that the DSL cancellation had not yet filtered through the system, he was still unable to complete my order and schedule Uverse installation, and he would check on it as soon as he got in on Tuesday (today), and call me.

Meanwhile, I sit here in the dial-up ghetto, unable to get any significant work done. The public library does not open until noon; but even so, any public wi-fi is going to be a problem because the nature of my work involves transmitting HIPAA-protected medical information.

In summary, from a technical standpoint, my internet service should have been able to be switched in a manner that would minimize my downtime. This can be easily accomplished by the Uverse installation technicians, and apparently this was how it was done in the past.

However, due to a serious design flaw in the sales and ordering system, I am stuck with dial-up internet for at least the next week. In this day and age, that is unacceptable.

At this moment, when I attempt to check my order status online (at the glacially-slow dial-up speed) I find that the order was last updated 3 days ago.

Again I would like to emphasize that T*** is a credit to your company, and has gone above and beyond in his efforts to resolve my dilemma. However, his hands are tied by the system.

If I didn't hate C****** already for reasons I won't go into here, by this point I would have told AT&T goodbye and gone with another internet provider.

I would urge you to investigate this flaw in your system and take steps to ensure that future customers do not wind up in the same boat as me. I would also boldly request that since I initially placed the order last Saturday, I should be bumped to a position in the installation queue commensurate with that date.


Update from later in the day:  When I got back from my afternoon coffee shop sojourn, I found a message from T*** on my answering machine. He said that the DSL disconnection STILL has not made its way through the system, and therefore he still cannot schedule me for installation, but he will follow up again tomorrow and keep me informed.

Incidentally, I had to e-mail the above letter to the CEO because his fax machine just rang and rang and rang. Nice.  /sarcasm

Goodbye for now from dial-up purgatory. How did we EVER function in this environment?? (I should have timed how long it took for Blogger to simply load the page for me to paste in—after writing it offline--and post this entry. My best guesstimate is about 10 minutes, including all the times I had to refresh the timed-out page. Ouch.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Probably shouldn't have done that...

... because I'm very stiff and sore, and it feels like I have a slight case of whiplash.

What did I do to cause this? Why, I double-dog-dared myself to ride the Tanzanian Twister water slide at Kalahari, Wisconsin Dells. Better known as "the toilet."


First, you shoot feet-first down a very dark tube; then you whirl a couple of times around this gigantic bowl, then you get free-fall dumped into a pool that's over 9 feet deep. And as soon as you come up for air, you have to swim hard for the side while being pummeled by the continuous water flow from above.

I whanged my head pretty good when I got dumped into the bowl, but had enough brain cells still firing that I was able to take a deep breath and hold my nose before I went down the hole.

This ride should come with a free lifetime pass to your chiropractor of choice.  I can safely say I will never do it again.

But, given the opportunity, I will do the milder outdoor version, the Swahili Swirl, the one where you ride a tube/raft, and the final drop is down another chute into a shallow pool where you can exit your raft at some leisure. Best of all:  No whiplash!

What I want to know is, how did this person manage to come down the final chute facing front?  I went in backwards both times. Go figure.

Now I can cross "water park" off my bucket list.

And for all your lurkers, I'm back home now, so don't think you can rob my house while I'm out of state!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

See? I Wasn't Lying.

This truck came to address the septic tank issues at the late parental residence, and naturally I took the opportunity to take a picture.

Speaking of the late parental residence, we closed yesterday, the new owners have the keys, and y'all missed out on the perfect opportunity to own a chunk of real estate in beautiful Carmel Valley.

And I do believe I'm going to sleep for about a week now.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This Is Why There's Algebra.

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Just been really, really busy. Being the executor/trustee of your parents' estate can do that to a person. (Mother just faded away at age 91 back in December.)

Which reminds me. I don't care how old (or young) you are. Do your heirs a favor, and thin out your stuff NOW. If you can't figure out why that's a good thing, ask me about filling the biggest dumpster Waste Management will deliver, and still having trash left over. Not to mention so many trips to Goodwill, the guy at the donation station knows us by name.

Oh, and does anybody want to buy a 2000+ square foot house on an acre in Carmel Valley? A million in cash and it's yours.

None of which explains the algebra.

For reasons I'm too tired to explain right now, amongst my various other endeavors I am experimenting with creating handmade flutes. And before I (pun warning!) branch out into wood, bamboo and other such materials, PVC pipe is a good place to start.

Yep. Good ol' PVC pipe from Home Depot, at less than 2 bucks for 10 feet of the stuff.

Anybody can just start drilling holes in a tube, but if you want the thing to play in something resembling "tune" (what is this "tune" thing I speak of?) you have to do some math.

Well. Anybody who has known me for any length of time knows that Algebra 2 was one of the worst experiences of my life, and I quickly and purposely forgot it all once I had passed the class and moved on with my education. Where and when, I often asked, was I ever going to use this knowledge again?

Fast forward to yesterday, and a few useful websites. One of those sites offers the following text:

If I want a pipe that plays an A-440 (that is, the note at 440 Hz, which happens to be an A), sound waves have to go around it once in 1/440 second. So, (2 x (length of pipe in m)) / (345 m / s) = (1 / 440) s. We can solve this equation algebraically to find that the length of pipe must be .392 m (39.2 cm).

Algebra? Heaven help me.

Heaven came in the form of yet another nifty website. (They've got practically everything on the net these days, don't they.) Somehow I managed to actually use those instructions to draft my own equation and plug it in, once I had figured out the part about sound waves traveling at 345 meters per second. And I found that for a pipe to play a D at 293.66 Hz, it needed to be 0.58741402 meters long, or about 23 1/8 inches for us English speakers. And lo and behold, when I cut the PVC pipe to that length and blew into it, aiming at a nifty tuner app, I got a D.

I then used the Flutomat to calculate the distances and hole sizes for a D-minor scale, drilled out the holes, and now I've got my first homemade flute.

Fine-grit sandpaper takes off the black printing as well as the shiny surface, so it looks just a little less like PVC at a distance, although the cap at the end kind of gives it away....

Silly me, I should have offset the G hole a bit. Yes, it is rather awkward to play. But it has an interesting sound.

Bonus feature. If you drop it on the floor, or even step on it, it won't break!

Want to hear what it sounds like?

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Was Driving, No Camera Handy.

So I couldn't take a picture, and you'll just have to take my word for it. For a couple of miles on the freeway, I followed a septic tank service truck. You know, the truck with the big tank on the back and the great big ol' hose. On the back of the tank, right under the name and phone number of the company, it said "Warning! This tank may contain political promises!" Honest. Really.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Little Tank

That is how one of the San Diego Zoo bloggers referred to this baby bear, in the context of last week's veterinary examination.

The little tank is going to be a very big tank before we know it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why Not?

After all, they found Richard III under a parking lot. (Maybe.)

Michigan police skeptical they will find Hoffa's body under driveway

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Together Now, One, Two, Three....


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Twenty Days Old, 60 Seconds Of Unbearable Cuteness

The new baby in San Diego is already recognizable as a panda, and s/he is trying very, very hard to mobilize!

No, I don't know what that yellow stain in the corner is, since this camera does not broadcast in color.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

11 Days Old Already

Might as well get used to it... this blog is likely to be wall-to-wall bears for a while.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Bai Yun gave birth to her 6th cub Sunday afternoon. She is one of the oldest panda mothers ever at age nearly-21, and is now the most prolific panda mother in any breeding program outside of China. Congratulations to mama and papa, and cheers to the panda staff at the San Diego Zoo!

(Photo credit: The LA Times, via San Diego Zoo.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Expecting the pitty-pat of widdle cubby feetsies at any moment. Yay!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Annoying.

Someone presumes to correct my grammar--and they're wrong! Case in point; the exceptions to the comma-between-doubled-word rule being "had had" and "that that." Changing "had had" to "had" or "has had" changes the meaning. Worse yet, "had, had" is COMPLETELY wrong. Wrongety-wrong-wrong-wrong. Look it up. I had to, so you can too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Surely This Is In The Constitution.

As one of the mandated duties of the federal government. Right next to that wall of separation between church and state.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live From San Diego

Mama bear Bai Yun from yesterday, having herself a snooze. She is on hopeful pregnancy watch, so cross all your fingers and toes for a new cubbie to be born later this year!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In The News Today

From today's Yahoo headlines:

You've got to be kidding me. Are there really people walking around loose that are this dumb? Wait... don't answer that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Fun Never Stops.

Anybody read in the financial news today about that big ol' merger that was announced in the medical transcription industry?

Yes, I will be involved in that. Thank you for asking.

Last time I went through a merger, I was part of the smaller company that got gobbled up by the big fish.

This time, it's the other way around. Last time's gobbler (for which I still work) will become the gobble-ee.

And even though the sale was announced today, it will not be final for 6 to 9 months, they told us, so nothing is supposed to change for at least 6 months. After that? All bets are off.

Oh, and the most fun? The announcement conference call was set for 9 a.m. . . . eastern time. Lovely consideration for the employees in other time zones (not). And they still didn't beat the press release. Facebook was hopping well before the conference began.

Yep. The fun never stops.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Way To Go, Yahoo News.

Nothing quite like telling the terrorists the best places for them to target. Uh huh.

No, I am not linking the news story, just in case there's a terrorist watching this space.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Silly Bear

Captured live on the Pandacam just now... not-so-little-anymore Yun Zi at San Diego, taking a nap in a rather extraordinary position....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Show an appalling lack of consideration, thumping around in the bedroom closet at 11:30 in the morning. Makes it hard for a girl to sleep on the job.

I'm just saying.

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