Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stuff Around The House #10: More Art

This is an interesting, and I suppose unfinished and unamed painting we bought in a thrift store in Hickory, North Carolina a couple of years ago. I think we paid $2 or $3.00 for it, and we tried for a long time to sell it in a shop for a bit more than what we paid. Apparently no one saw what I saw in it, cause it got very little interest. So now it has a happy home in our upstairs bathroom, close to another picture of a bunch of cows that I also found interesting.

I like original thrift store art. I like to stand and stare at it and wonder what whoever painted it was thinking.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Love The Kitty Cats, by Pickles the Dog

This little poem is from a poster Patti Anne saw a long time ago. Patti Anne told Pickles the Dog, our half maniacal Blue Tick/Labrador Retriever Mix about it while we were on our way to the post office today, and Pickles made up her own little poem based on it. It goes like this:

I Love The Kitty Cats
by Pickles the Dog
I love the kitty cats,
They's such a special treat,
I like to nibble on they haids
And chew they tiny feets.
First a caveat. Pickles is a North Carolina dog, straight out of the mountains or somewhere close, she has no formal education and speaks English the best she knows how. She speaks English the way the other dogs she grew up with speak it. So give her a break on the pronunciation and grammar, she does the best she can.
Now, having said that, besides sharing the house with the slightly maniacal Pickles the Dog, Defender of the House, Chewer of Bones and Killer of Rats, we also share the place with Snowchief the Cat. Snowchief the Cat is 16 years or or so, and still going strong. I've had him since he was small enough to put in my shirt pocket, so he has a LOT of seniority on Pickles the slightly maniacal dog. The cat has free reign all over the house, the dog does not. We've set up cat sized escape routes, just to the cat can get away from the dog, if it so chooses. Even though Pickles insists on "playing" with the cat, the cat it turns out can handle himself pretty well. Pickles isn't mean, just maniacal. But still, when Pickles repeated her poem to us, we had a little sit down, to make sure she didn't repeat it to the cat. Who wouldnt have cared anyway.
Snowchief, by the way, is a gray and black striped tabbie. He has no white on him to speak of. He was named after a winner of the Kentucky Derby awhile back. He's a good cat, even if he is a bit of a Nazi when it comes to mice.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More English: Might Could

This next is a phrase I use a lot. I don't even think about it. When you're north of the Ohio River, you know when you say things like "I reckon" and "you all", people notice. South of the Ohio, everybody says it so no one thinks anything of it. I'm very familiar with that. But once, up in Maryland, I got caught with a "might could" while talking about a programming problem. The person I was talking with took note, then asked me to repeat myself. I had never even given the phrase a second thought. To me it was common as rain.

Might could can mean anthing from "I'm not really sure" to "I'm absolutely positive". You have to know the personality of the person saying it, and the situation it which it is used.

"I might could do that" - again, the speaker may not be sure, or could be absolutely positive. It just depends.

"I might could git that for you, if you ask me real nice".

Might could. A nice phrase, especially if ambiguity is needed.

A note on my previous post. Sorry about gloating about how warm it was. It's now turning cold again, so that put me back in my place. I actually have no control over the weather. I might as well gloat about the sun coming up in the east.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The way it's supposed to be.

Much, if not most of the country, indeed North America, is having some very rough weather. Ice, snow, wind, messy, dangerous weather.

Today I walked around without a jacket.

Today I set on the porch and enjoyed the breeze.

This is the way it's supposed to be. I think it was around 70 F., (about 21 C.) here in Valdese, North Carolina today. Felt good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another English lesson - my favorite word.

My favorite word in the English language has got to be "fixingto" (pronounced FIXintuh).

It means what you think it means: ready to, about to, going to, or anything else along those lines.

Here it is in a sentence: "I'm fixingto go to town".

For a little extra emphasis when you need to show you're really serious, you can add the prefix "a", and a personal pronoun.

Here's an example: "I'm a-fixingto eat me a hamburger".

It's a versatile little word. You should use it whenever you get a chance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Inner Dog

discover your dog breed @ quiz meme

I best not let Pickles know......

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stuff Around The House #9: Mixed Media Artwork by Patti Anne

This is a little bit of art created by our very own Patti Anne awhile back. It's mixed media (there's paint & paper involved) on canvas and it is hanging in a corner of a little room, which, by any definition, is an office. I don't think it has a title, but it is based on a picture taken at the Inner Harbor, in Baltimore, Maryland. There was some construction going on, and I was standing there watching 3 other people watch one other person dig a hole. There was nothing very deep or meaninful going on. Except the hole was getting deep. One can only speculate about it's meaning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little song Patti Anne made up

Patti Anne made up this song on the way back from the Post Office this after noon:
I am Pickles Anne,
The best dog in the land.
I don't wear any underpants -
What'd'ja expect?
I'm a dog.

Pickles had her nose out the window and did not seem impressed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What I'm reading

Believe it or not, I had 3 books going, with a detour for a national geographic magazine. I just finished one, so now I guess I only have two. That's a lot for me, I'm usually a one book at a time kind of guy.
The book I just finished is called World War: Striking the Balance, by Harry Turtledove. I'm on a kind of Harry Turtledove mission I guess. He writes science fiction and alternate histories and some fiction. He's written two large series, with a total of 19 books. That's right 19. So I've gone thru the first series, 11 books based on the premise that the Lee won the battle of Antietam in 1862, and the Confederate States went on to win the civil war, and the USA was split into 2 countries. I'm counting "How Few Remain" as the first book of the series, tho technically I'm not sure it is. Anyway it creates a totally new history of the United States and the World from the 1880's thru WWII.
The series I'm in now is more science fiction, but with a good dose of history thrown in also. In this series of 8 books, WWII is raging, when suddenly the planet is attacked by aliens, reptilian based life forms. WWII ends in a hurry as humans try to meet this threat. It's interesting, these aliens are centuries ahead of humans in certain technologies (space travel for example), but only a few years or decades ahead in others (weapons, computers). The aliens had sent a probe to the planet 800 years earlier, and expected to be facing humans riding horses and fighting with swords. They were extremely surprised to find a manufacturing society, a world war going on, airplanes, and society on the verge of atomic weapons, and could not understand how a society could have developed so quickly. These 'lizards' moved and developed technologies much more slowly and accurately than humans - which was their Achilles heel, so to speak. It was hard for them to adapt, or accept that they even needed to adapt. It reminds me of an old Ray Bradbury short story I read once, where Reptile Kings set on their throne and thought of things for centuries.
So anyway, there's 8 books in this series, and I've read 4 of them. If you like books like this you can enjoy them without knowing a lick of history, but if you have a background in history (as does yours truly), I think you get a bit more out of them.
I'm also reading "The Ugly American", which was written back in the 1950s. This is a book based on a semi-reality of sorts about American diplomats and such in South East Asia in the 1950s. I find parts of it fascinating, and parts of it very preachy. I think the book was a big deal back when it was written.
I've also stuck my nose into "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", with has to be the thickest book I have. I've actually read it before, cover to cover, so I may not read the whole thing again, just the parts I'm more interested in.
So, that's it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Present From Pickles The Dog

Well you never know what's going through that ol' dog's mind.

A couple of days ago Patti Anne took Pickles out, and let her run. We have a big enough area where we can let her run loose for a while and the dog seems to enjoy it. She usually stays close, and if by chance another dog catches her attention, she comes back pretty quickly. We can usually get her back with half a medium sized milk bone. We frequently call her over within our grasp, give her her treat then let her go again, just so she knows she's not going to get leashed up every time she comes over to us.

If you have no treats, the next best thing is to not pay attention to her. Pore ol' dog, she cant last long, usually within a minute or so she's running over to say hi.

Sometimes she runs to the top of a bank close to our house and sits there watching to see what we'll do next. She likes us to run around and pretend like we're trying to catch her. The fact that sometimes we are trying to catch her, just adds to her fun.

But a couple of days ago was a first for Pickles, and has got a title added to her name. This time, Patti Anne let her loose, and the dog took off. She ran straight for a neighbors house, underneath their deck, then there is confusion about where she went next. She reappeared between some neighbors houses running at break neck speed to our front door. When she got there, she dropped a dead rat on our welcome mat.

Not a mouse, but a full size, and from the looks of things was alive a few minutes earlier, rat. I have a picture, but decided to spare the world. It's not really that gross, but who wants to look at a dead rat?

So what was she thinking? Was she imitating a cat? Was she trying to thank us for her food and warm place to sleep? She has never done this before. Now I know what she'll do if she ever catches a squirrel, and I have new respect for Snowchief the cat.

So anyway, Queen Pickles Anne had earned herself a new title. She is now Queen Pickles Anne, Defender of the House, Chewer of Bones, Killer of Rats.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Joys of Monday

It's not every Monday that I get a tooth pulled. In fact many, many Mondays have gone by since I last had to have dental work of that calibre. This extraction was not a surprise, not any kind of emergency, it was scheduled, and I guess falls under general preventive maintenance or something. A while back a crown came off and took part of the tooth with it, the dentist decided the tooth had to come out. There was no rush, but eventually (in years) it would cause problems. So last July, at my last semi-annual checkup, cleaning and lecture from the dental hygienist, we scheduled it for Dec 1.

The procedure itself was not very painful, for which I am thankful. Novocaine, or whatever they use now to shoot into your gums to deaden pain, seems to work very well on me. Patti Anne has a harder time with it, and it doesnt seem to work very well on my father at all. I don't know how anyone could stand the pain of having a tooth extracted without something like Novocaine, but it was done that way for centuries, so I guess people managed.

Though the procedure wasn't painful, it also turned out not to be routine. You can just tell when things aren't going well, and I was thinking, the dentist doesnt have anyone else to fall back on. He's the only dentist there, so there is no one around with more experience, no one for him to grab and say hey look at this. If he decides he can't do this, I don't think he can just stop in mid-extraction and tell me to make an appointment with a dental surgeon or some other specialist - I'm not sure how that works, but I don't think that is the way things go. But he managed. It involved drilling and a little tiny back-hoe operated by little tiny construction workers, and eventually the tooth relinquished its position in my mouth.

Though I could tell things weren't going smoothly, I still felt no pain. It wasn't what you'd call comfortable, but nothing that would make me levitate either. The pain came after things wore off. But it's not that terrible as long as I'm careful, and I've got some pills I havent really had to take yet, and I probably wont. And today I re-entered the world of solid food, though I still have to be careful.

So, that's what I've been up to. Next month I have an appointment for my next semi-annual check-up, cleaning, and lecture from the dental hygienist.

Friday, November 28, 2008

There's always the weather.

I suppose when I can't think of anything else to write I can fall back on the weather. I needed a jacket when I walked the dog this morning - but I could feel that it was warmer, the air was heavier, and it smelled like rain. It has looked all day like it might rain, but it's held off so far. This afternoon when I made my sojourn to the post office, I didn't need a jacket.

I suppose weather bores people to tears sometimes. But without weather, I would not got into one of my pondering spells about something absolutely meaningless, as I am want to do. All too frequently, apparently.

A few days ago it rained. After it stopped raining, and the ground was still wet, I noticed about a millon dog paw prints on the front porch. And that got me thinking about the relationship between dog paws and people feet. Specifically, since dogs have 4 feet, it stands to reason that they would take twice as many steps as humans. Or does it, does careful observation support that hypothesis? Because, it looked to me like there were hundreds of dog paw prints on that porch, all caused by one dog - Pickles T. Dog. So I observed a little closer, and noticed that frequently, the dog only seems to be standing still, she's actually moving her feet around. Sometimes she moves her front paws and not her back, sometimes her back and not her front. But I think she takes way more than twice as many steps as a normal human does. So, the fact that she has 4 paws compared to a human's two feet, does not mean she only takes twice as many steps as a human. I think it's probably 50 to 60 times as many.

So this little tidbit added to the knowledge of humanity would not have been possible without the weather. It had rained and I had noticed paw prints.

I realize this is not much new knowledge, and perhaps not important, but if you had the proper scientific instruments you could measure it, and add it to the weight of knowledge in the Great Library of Alexandria, which unfortunately doesn't exist any more.

And if you've read this far, I have to wonder about ya.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stuff around the house #8: Christmas Cactus

I don't know why this plant is blooming - I wouldn't know how to make it bloom if I tried. Patti Anne might know, but I sure don't.

Anyway, we brought this guy in when the weather started getting cooler, and put him on a stand on top of our microwave in the corner of the kitchen. It started blooming and it's blooming like crazy.

We (and by we I mean Patti Anne) havent done anything to the plant except water it, and turn it occasionally.

I mostly look at it and wonder how this can be. I don't know how long it will continue to bloom, but it sure its pretty while it lasts.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A note on the weather

It should be at least in the mid-60's (F.) this time of year (I think that's about 18-20 C.). Instead its setting record lows in North Carolina, getting down way below freezing tonight. Not just a little - a lot. I just want to let the whole planet know, or at least the miniscule portion of it that checks in on this blog ever now and again, that I don't like it. But still, I walk the dog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why I'm fascinated by Saskatoon

First, as always, a caveat. I don't really know what I'm talking about. As long as everyone understands that, we're ok.

I became fascinated with Saskatoon when I was 11 years old, because I had read a couple of books by Farley Mowat. Farley Mowat is a Canadian author who writes mostly non-fiction - in fact for all I know he writes only non-fiction. Even these two books I read, which were nominally fiction, had a basis in reality. Anyway they were very funny stories about a dog and the setting was Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I fell in love with what I thought I knew about the place.

Farley Mowat's Saskatoon was a pleasant place. Everybody was neighborly, and he had this really great dog. Everybody seemed to like each other and was happy. I envisioned it as this small town, somewhat bigger than Hindman, Kentucky (pop < 1,000), not quite as big as Hazard, Kentucky (pop around 7,000), and far more pleasant than either. I imagined nice houses, nice tree lined streets, an easy going, secure way of life.

When my father was in the Air Force we were stationed at Glasgow AFB, Montana for awhile. There can be few places in the USA that are more in the middle of nowhere than Glasgow AFB was. But, it was close to Canada, and one weekend we took a trip up there. I thought, this is my big chance to finally see Saskatoon, but it wasn't to be. Saskatchewan is a big place, and even though Saskatoon is in the south central part of the province, it's about 7,000 miles north of the Montana border. I exaggerate. But not much. But seriously, driving from Glasgow to Saskatoon would have been about like driving from Glasgow to Denver, Colorado. Maybe. So we ended up visiting Regina, and Moosejaw, which were nice places, but I was disappointed at not making it to Saskatoon. I still havent, and I expect I never will.

Of course the Saskatoon of my fantasy and the Saskatoon of reality are two different beasts. In reality, Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan, I think there are over 200,000 people living there. To my way of thinking, it's a pretty big place, a lot bigger than the village I thought it was. I would have been quite disillusioned to have driven into a city that size.

Of course, that wasn't Farley Mowat's fault. I never once remember him mentioning the size of the place in those two books. It was just me - I read them, enjoyed them immensely and filled in a lot of details of that world in my own mind, which had been forged by my own experiences.

Saskatoon. I doubt I'll ever get over it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

English, again, so to speak

I've managed to catch the last two episodes of the Jeopardy Teen Tournament (yes, it's an exciting life I lead), and I've noticed a continuation of things I've noticed before. 1st, and I just need to get this out of the way because it is otherwise irrelevant, I don't like the way the announcer pronounces the word "tournament". I pronounce it "turn-nament", the announcer pronounces it "tour-nament", and it just grates on my nerves. Most likely the announcer is pronouncing it correctly, but still, there's no need to throw it in my face.

Ok. The important stuff. One of the contestants this year is a teenage girl from South Carolina, another from Annapolis, Maryland. Last year there was a boy from Lexington, Kentucky. These are all places I am more or less familiar with, and not one of those kids sounded anything like the places they supposedly come from. None of them had any kind of detectable accent. (Now understand, I'm just talking about the USA. To someone form Australia or Ireland, they probably sounded like they had very strong -if perhaps bland- accents). They spoke a very standard American English, and could have come from anywhere. I could detect no regionalisms in the way they spoke.

People in Lexington, Kentucky sound like I do, which is very close to the way people in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina sound. People in the north western part of South Carolina sound just like people in the south western part of North Carolina (go figure). People closer to the coast of South Carolina sound distinctly strange - but the key word is distinct. They don't sound like they come from Nebraska. And people in Maryland are a language unto themselves. I lived in Maryland a long time, and I heard of lot of stuff like "Rosterstown Raid" (Reisterstown Road), and "Pitcher bane soot owen" (Put your bathing suit on).

So what are these kids hiding? Where are they really from? How does Jeopardy keep digging up kids (and grown-ups) who don't sound like they come from where they say they do?

I guarantee you if you were to take a stroll down main street in Valdese and say "howdy" to the first teenager you run into, that teenager will not sound like he or she comes from the mid-west. Unless for some reason that's where they actually come from - always possible, but not terribly likely.

I know I'm ranting about something that does not matter. Heaven help me, I can't help it. Sigh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stuff Around The House # 7 - Glass Rabbit

This is a glass rabbit in a window sill. It no longer exists in this little space, as it has been moved.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Historic vs Historical

I have a degree in history. In fact I did graduate work in history, was a graduate assistant and everything. I've never used it in a professional capacity - can you imagine? But it has also never hurt to have it.

Anyway, one my minor irritations is people seem to think the words historic and historical mean the same thing, and they usually say historical. Obviously they're related but there is a difference.

Historic refers to an event, usually momentous. Historical refers to things that have happened in the past.

When you're talking about Barack Obama's election as president, that's historic. It's an event, something that will be remembered. 50 years from now, you can talk about it as a historical fact, something happened.

Buildings are usually historic. Documents are usually historical.

I'm not an expert in grammar. I'm no grammarian, nor even a grammaritician, and you'll have to forgive me, if in one of these little outbursts of mine, I commit grammarcide, or over grammarify things. I may have it wrong, in other words. But still, they are not interchangeable.

Oh, and don't never, ever, call me a history buff.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Tree Behind Our House

I took this picture a couple of days ago. This is a very beautiful autumn season.

Unofficially Surprised

Barack Obama has unofficially won the state of North Carolina, which makes me unofficially surprised. There are some provisional ballots to be counted, but he has a lead of about 13,000 votes, and they feel it's unlikely that lead will be overturned.

I believe the election is to be certified Dec 1., at which time it is "official" and I will become officially surprised.

History was no guide in this election. Its the first time NC's been won by a democrat in a presidential election since 1976, and the first time Indiana and Virginia have voted for a democrat since 1964, longer than most people on Planet Earth have been alive.

I don't know if this will last or not - there were a lot of things going on to cause it. But the fact that it happened at all is very, very interesting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Amazing, isnt it?

There are some things that surprised me about this election. The fact that Obama won is not one of them, and the fact that I'm not surprised that an African-American has been elected president speaks volumes.

I'm dealing with a semi-nasty cold, the first one I've had in years, and I ran out of steam last night. I physically could not stay up, even though I wanted to. But, by the time I went to bed, the die was cast, I knew who was going to win.

The fact the Obama won Indiana and Virginia, and most likely North Carolina (tho 24 hrs later it's apparently still too close to call), is nothing short of amazing. Usually Indiana is called as quickly as Kentucky, and its for the Republicans. When it wasn't, that was the first indication something unique was going on. When hours went by without North Carolina or Virginia going Republican, that was also quite telling.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson, from Texas, pushed through the voting rights act & civil rights act. In 1968, the deep south went for George Wallace - the last 3rd party candidate to win any electoral votes, and most of the time since the south has been solid Republican in presidential elections, with the exception perhaps of Florida. For Virginia & possibly North Carolina to go to Obama is amazing to me.

In North Carolina I thought Elizabeth Dole would probably win re-election to the Senate. This was not because I support Elizabeth Dole, but because I was somewhat cynical. It's a conservative southern state. Kay Hagan didn't focus as much on what she's accomplished or wanted to do as on Dole's short comings, real or exaggerated. Dole fired back, big time. Kay Hagan apparently accepted a campaign donation from a group called "Godless America" or something. They basically want to take God out of public life - off the money, out of the pledge of allegiance, etc. In the last week of the campaign Dole ran an ad which pretty much called Kay Hagan an atheist (apparently she's not), while at the same time using pagan terminology and images, thus mixing the metaphors so to speak. For example, Godless America didnt just donate money, "they held a secret ceremony in her honor". The images of Hagan in the ad made her look like she was taking part in a witches coven, and you could supply your own stereotypes. At the end there was a picture of Kay Hagan with a woman's voice over saying "There is no God". People were meant to think that was her voice, but it wasn't.

That is about as nasty as I've seen campaigning get. Hagan has filed a defamation of character law-suit, though personally I doubt much will come of it. In the USA public figures are pretty much free game for anything anyone says about them, and both parties are public figures.

Personally, I found the ad insulting. I thought it was the equivalent of a "White People Wake Up" ad straight out of the 1950's. Apparently it didnt sit well with much of the rest of the state either, which surprised the cynic in me. North Carolina is bible-belt country. In the little town of Valdese, I can think of 8 churches without even trying, some of them quite large, and there may be more than that. Religion is important to a lot of people in this state & it is socially conservative.

I think the ad would have been much more effective if it just stated the facts. It's completely legitimate to point out who a campaign accepts money from, and to question a campaign's judgment in accepting money from a certain group, or to try to tie them to that group somehow. But Dole chose to distort things a bit and go over the top, and apparently it didnt work. Or at least it didn't change anybody's mind. So Elizabeth Dole lost, and I find that amazing.

Ok, the county I lived in voted 60% for McCain, 40% for Obama. So the signs on my dog walking route did a pretty good job in predicting the local county vote, at least. I'll have to remember that. 3 out of 5 were McCain signs.

As for me, I'm glad Obama won, and I'm glad Dole lost. And this will probably be the last I have to say about it. I don't really like politics that much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A beautiful morning

It was beautiful this morning when I walked the dog. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the trees fill everything with bright yellows and reds. The mountains were wonderful to look at. Ah but the forecast is for rain, and rain it shall. Now it is overcast, gray, kind of a dingy day.

I'm glad I voted early, for I am ill. Scratchy throat, cough, head-ache, aches & pains. It didn't keep me from walking the dog, and it would not have kept me from voting, but I'm happy I've already done it. For the last couple of days I've run out of energy as the day progresses, so there's no telling.

I've noticed that there is a gray and white cat living under the deck. I've seen it around before and startled it a couple of times. (In return, it startled me) I'm not sure if it's feral, but it will not let anyone close to it. So I left it some food & water, which may be a mistake. It'll probably bring me some little critter it killed and leave it by the kitchen door in exchange. I could live without that.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stuff Around The House #6 - shadows on a table

This is number six in my probably never ending series of stuff around the house. I have a fairly liberal interpretation of "stuff".

This is just a shadow, light coming thru a window filtered by a plant, creating a small design on our dining room table.

Light is a funny thing. It's like it plays games with you sometimes - a little taunting here I am, see if you can see me hide & seek kind of game. If you don't see it, it's as if it were never there, because it's very fleeting.

It will never be repeated exactly.

The earth rotates and shifts on its axis, so the angle the sun stikes the window everday will be ever so slightly different. Or perhaps someone will have bumped the table and nudged it to a slightly different position (that's right Pickles the Dog, I'm talking about you). Or there may be clouds tomorrow. Or someone could move the plant slightly. There are tons of variables that make the light you see right this instant, so fleeting, and so unique.

So, I took a picture & posted it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My last update on the signs

Well, I have to do something to occupy my mind when I'm walking the dog. But this is the final, latest and greatest, end all and be all of the signs.

Ok, to recap. First there was one McCain sign & one Obama sign, just a couple of doors from each other down on Praley. Then an Obama sign popped up on South Avenue, but two more McCain signs showed up on Pineburr, while the McCain sign on Praley was missing.

Ok, a couple of days ago, the house with the Obama sign sprouted another Obama sign, so it had one close to the road, and another close to the house. The McCain sign that went missing showed up again, but this time near the house and not near the road.

Today, I noticed that the Obama sign near the road (at the house with two Obama signs) was no longer there, but the one near the house was.

Sheesh. Maybe there is some political sign shenanigans going on by the good citizens of Valdese.

Anyway. The way it stands now, on my dog walking route, there are 3 signs for McCain, and 2 for Obama. By the way, the Obama sign on Praley has been there for a couple of months at least. The other signs showed up much more recently.

What's it all mean? Beats me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So I went ahead and voted

North Carolina has early voting - people have been voting now for two or three weeks. I don't know if this is the first time for early voting or not, it certainly is for me, except when I voted with an absentee ballot a time or two. But to walk in and physically vote, I had no idea any such thing existed in the US of A.

I originally was not going to vote early. I kind of like waiting in line on election day, its like a tradition. I like to listen to what people have to say, and just some reason I like the atmosphere. I also thought, if I vote early, then I've voted. What if something happens between the time I voted and election day to change my mind? Its a valid question, but I came to the conclusion that at this point, its unlikely I'd change my mind. So I voted, and on election day & night, I can just relax and see how it goes.

The polling area is in town hall. There are signs for all the candidates across the street - there are rules, of course, about how close to a polling area people can campaign. I have only been in town hall a few times - to pay the water bill. That's kind of a throw back, since normally all my bills are paid online or through automatic withdrawals. The polling booth was in the back, so I walked further into the town hall than I had before. There was the finance director, and other functionaries. Mayor Hatley's office was empty & dark. All in all, it looked like a government building. Functional, not much character to it.

The polling area was fairly crowded. There were several people waiting ahead of me, there were 5 voting stations and all were being used. One person was not registered. Now, this is interesting, because this is also a change in the law - looks like someone has decided that things should not be so anal when it comes to voting. They have one-stop registering laws now in North Carolina. This person could register to vote, and vote right then and there, but it is too late for her to register to vote then wait and vote on the actual election day, Nov 4th. She had no problem with being required to vote right then.

There were a lot of older people, and some were infirm and needed help. This makes a ton of sense, because the actual election day can be more crowded and confusing. Also it was mid-day, and it was just more convenient for them to vote then. In the time I was there, 3 or 4 more people walked in behind me. I think this is early voting is a good thing, over all.

When I made it up to the election official, he asked my name, address, and birth month, verified my middle name, and that was it. Then I had to sign a piece of paper. Then I had to read a little statement saying that if I wanted to vote a straight party ticket, I could, but I had to vote separately for President & some local elections. I have my tendencies, but I've never voted a straight ticket in my life. I like to make the individual decisions, so this was not a problem. Then he walked me over to the voting machine, plugged in a cartridge, punched in some information, told me I was ready and if I needed any help to ask.

The voting machine is touch screen electronic ballot software. There was no paper ballot. Up to the point you hit confirm, you could go back and change anything. There was a printer inside the machine making a hard copy of every choice you made - I guess to be used as verification if need be. In case of recounts. A lot of races in North Carolina appear to be close, so a recount is not out of the question.

Voting was easy, but these machines are just made for something to go wrong. What if that paper jammed? What if it ran out? What if it runs out of ink? What if it just isn't working right? How can I be positive my vote was counted? What if the software crashed? They retrieved my voting record information on a laptop. What if the internet connection crashed? What if the hard drive failed? They printed out the paper for me to sign, what if the printer didnt work? What if the driver got corrupted somehow? All this depends on technology and electricity. Plus, you're dealing with a lot of people, up close and personal. I don't dislike people, but I don't really like to deal with people I don't know up close and personal if I don't have to. Armed with that knowledge, if I told you about my last job, you'd faint. Or at least laugh.

So, I've voted. I have an "I voted" sticker on my monitor now. I've been a good citizen today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Places I have lived

Here are some places where I (or my family when I was a child) have lived long enough to have a mailing address, or rent a place, or have a mortgage, in chronological order, from the time I was born till now.

Knott County, Kentucky
Van Nuys, California
Knott County, Kentucky
Altus, Oklahoma
Glasgow, Montana
Sembach, Germany
Aurora, Colorado
Morehead, Kentucky
Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri
Monterey, California
San Angelo, Texas
Leominster, Massachusetts
Killeen, Texas
Augsburg, Germany
Catonsville, Maryland
Laurel, Maryland
Westminster, Maryland
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Millersville, Maryland
Glen Burnie, Maryland
Hickory, North Carolina
Valdese, North Carolina

I don't remember Van Nuys, but I've seen pictures.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here's a rhyme I've heard all my life

I remember mom telling me this when I was little, long before I had the cultural background to grasp the pun.


I'm going to take a shower,
For an hour,
'Till my feet smell sour.

I'm a poet
And didn't know it,
But my feet show it.

They're Longfellows.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Five Thoughts

I cant think of anything to write so I'll just jot down a couple of things I've been mulling over.

First. Have you ever noticed that when people get together, physically, virtually, or just about any other -ly, someone is going to want to organize things? Someone is going to want to define some purpose for the grouping or influence people to act in some way? These people are called leaders, and they're pretty damn irritating.

Second. Have you ever tried to write a lymeric that was not at least suggestive? Lymerics range from mildly suggestive to down right vulgar - that is their function. It's hard to write one that is completely clean, especially if it has the word Nantucket in it. But, I've been kicking it around for a while, so here goes:

A scrawny old gal from Nantucket,
Carried her stuff in a bucket.
She marched around town
With her face in a frown,
And said, "This is heavy, let's chuck it".

Ok, it's a first attempt. I know it doesnt make sense. And the fact that I was trying to keep it clean really built a wall around things.

Third. I dont listen to enough music. I used to listen to lots of music, and my taste ran to fairly traditional hard driving rock and roll, though I do like blue grass and traditional country, the type of country music you dont hear on the 'normal' radio stations. Music wise, I won't shut the door on anything, but I'm not listening to it as much anymore. I listened to my one and only White Stripes CD a couple of days ago, and I remembered how much I liked it. So what happened. Where's the music gone? Why don't I have a radio going or play it on the PC when I'm working?

Four. Its a lot colder than it used to be. I know, define cold. Well it used to be in the 90's now its in the 60s, getting down into the 30s at night. That's cold. It aint right, I tell ya.

Five. I've written about language before, the type that I grew up with. A good movie that has the accents and such down fairly excellently is "Slingblade". I was watching it the other day, and was thinking how familiar it all sounded, speech wise. Children speak differently than adults. People with more education speak differently than people with less. It's very subtle sometimes, but it's there. I grew up among people who said "tote" instead of carry, and "pail" instead of bucket, and "slick" instead of "slippery", who turned an ending vowel into an 'e' sound - so that Sara would be pronounced Saree, and even 'you' could be pronounced 'ye', if you listened carefully. My mother grew up in "Tina, Kentucky", but it was pronounced "Tiny". Anyway, Slingblade is a very good movie. Not always pleasant, but very good.

Ok, enough of this. I'm tired. I'll work on that stupid ol' limeric later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a Valdese Saturday Morning

Ok, I'm a few days late on this one. Doesn't matter. Quite early last Saturday morning my wife & I awoke to an odd sound, and the dog barking. I remember thinking, half asleep, that it sounded like a car was stuck somewhere. Tires spinning and stuff.

I got up, walked into the bathroom, peered thru the blinds, and yep, there was a car stuck somewhere, alright. Right across our driveway wedged between two banks. Hmmm, I said to myself. Not my problem. And I went back to bed.

Now, to some people, especially those of you who live in the civilized European countries, that may seem a bit callous. But, this is not the first time this has happened. It is an on-going problem that has resulted in a bit of property damage to us.

We are the first of three houses on a one lane gravel road, that dead ends at the 3rd house. It was a selling point for us when bought the place - its a place where only local traffic will go. None of those odd tourists in their garish outfits going to see the sights of Valdese straying down our way, nosir.

When we moved here in 2007, the house next door was empty. Now its rented, and they have a lot of visitors, every day, many of whom stay only a few minutes, then leave. (Hmmm, ya reckon?) Its one of these houses built a long time ago, and you literally step out of the place and are in the road. Honestly, it cant be built more than 2 feet from the road, and there is very little parking. So, what many of their visitors do, is try to back out.

This is where it gets interesting. A lot of them try to back into our drive way, and pull straight out from there. But that is not an easy thing to do. The road curves in front of our drive way, it's very narrow, and anywhere there is not a road, there are ditches or banks. Our driveway is not made from backing into from that direction, but they give it their best shot anyway.

The dark colored mini-van that tried it early on the morning of Oct 18th, didn't even come close. It went straight over the bank, and found itself wedged between two small hills on either side of our driveway. I imagine the driver looking very carefully over his/her left shoulder, and being very surprised to find him/herself impaled on a small hill and a clump of metal and plastic, then straddling our driveway with no place to go. I can also imagine what was said at that very moment, unless he/she is a saint.
The piece of metal laying flat on the ground is what remains of our mail box.

Our mail box did not die as a result of this incident. We gave up on using our mail box months ago - about the 4th or 5th time it was run over by people trying to back out, it became fairly useless. We have a box in the post office in town that we used for our business, so just started having all our personal mail delivered there too. I leave it out there as a monument to bad drivers, a statement about people who don't care about other people's property, a silent warning to anyone who pays attention, and as a vigil to honor slain mail boxes everywhere. I suspect there are a lot of local automobiles with dents and scrapes and possibly some lurking unknown damage caused by my mailbox, so it got its licks in, passive though they may be. It makes for good yard art, too.

After awhile they managed to get out - still not sure how, and really don't care. They left me two good tire tracks in my grass up there, which of course is just that much less grass I'll have to mow. Eventually it'll fill in with weeds and I won't know the difference.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Update on the signs.

Ah, the signs they are a-changin'.

On my dog walking route around the South Avenue enviorns, the signs are now arrayed thusly:

The original McCain sign is gone - don't know how or where or why, but it's gone. However, two more have sprouted up. Also, one other Obama sign is now on display,'s a tie. Two of each. If the signs are any indication (and they aren't) it's going to be a close race in the South Avenue neighborhood.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stuff around the house #5 - the barn

This is a view from the deck in back of my house, on a messy, rainy day a couple of days ago. I found it comforting somehow.

Yes, we have a barn. But no, we are not the proverbial Farmers Brown. I doubt I would enjoy success at that kind of life, being squeemish and all. A day or so before this picture was taken, it was bright and sunny and I was mowing the dreaded grass. Down below the barn, I got to witness a big ol' black snake moving very quickly into the weeds surrounding our little pond (our very own minature wetlands), and even though I'm sure the snake thought he'd been got & was done for, I was the one saying "run away, run away". I don't like snakes. Anyway, a typical farmer type, of the ilk I grew up with in Kentucky anyways, faces snakes, some poisonous, as an occupational hazard. You're out there hoeing the weeds, you're gonna find them. Even though I don't like snakes, I've never knowingly killed one, and I don't really have the desire to.

Ok, I digress. But I want you to understand that just because there is a barn out back doesnt mean I have any idea what to do with it.

It's a nice barn, built into the ground, so the door in the picture is actually the 2nd level. There is a trap door where you can get to the first level, or you can just walk around. The bottom level has 3 large stalls - one stall has two doors. At some time in the past, large animals - probably a cow & a mule - were kept there. We use the 2nd level for storage - it's nice and dry. Tho I keep an eye out for nasty stinging insects when I walk in there. Also snakes, of course.

Next to the farm house is a chicken coop with a "Wild Bird Crossing" sign nailed on it. It's getting a bit overgrown, once the weather gets cooler (that is, once the snakes go away), we'll get out there and clean it out. Its a once a year job.

Behind the barn is a fairly steep hill, which I keep mowed. Then the trees, then a creek, then a hill, then some more houses you can't see because of the trees. What you also can't see, because of the fog and rain, are mountains. Yes, about 1/2 mile away are mountains, and they're nice to look at.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just a scene downtown

During the warm months (roughly April to October - not that the other months are that cold, comparatively), Myra's sponsors a "Drive-in" on Friday nights, down in Valdese, and people bring their antique and classic cars. I think the rule is that they have to be operational and driven there under their own steam. These cars are immaculate. On a few of those Friday nights, the town shuts down main street, and the show is a little larger than usual. Also, coinciding with this is Music, usually in the Wachovia Bank parking lot. It's kind of fun.

This picture is a scene a while back, from one of those evenings when main street was shut down. I'm facing east, the Wachovia parking lot is to the right & people are beginning to gather for the music.

I really liked the cars.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I just had to know....

I'm sorry to let my curiosity get the best of me. But I just had to know - where did Elizabeth Dole's "ranked 93rd in effectiveness" come from? I first heard about this in a political ad from Kay Hagan, who is running against Elizabeth Dole for senate, and I mentioned it on a blog post Oct 9th.

There are all kinds of organizations that rank our elected officials. Most have an agenda. An environmental group would probably give Elizabeth Dole a 0% rating, while a right to life group would give her a 100% rating. These types of ratings are based on how well her beliefs reflect their agenda, and in my opinion are fairly meaningless. I'm sure the ACLU gives her a low ranking and the NRA gives her a high ranking. There's no news there, those are groups with an agenda.

The "ranked 93rd in overall effectiveness" rating can be found on a site called & apparently comes form a company called Knowlegis. Click here to go the site & look around. You'll find it. Knowlegis apparently tries to rate individual members of the House & Senate based on many criteria, some tangible and measurable, others intangible, with some criteria weighted more than others. It seems fairly complex and involved. It is NOT based on how they voted, but it comes with lots of caveats. Senator Dole could probably argue that their methodology is flawed, you can find something wrong in anything complex, especially when it involves items that can't readily be measured, and are weighted.

I was wondering why neither of the candidates would tell us straight out who came up with that rating. I still wonder. I dont know if Senator Dole could argue that they are biased or not. Using their methods, which they applied to everybody in the Senate (John McCain was #10, Barack Obama #11), she was listed as #93, out of 100. She could certainly argue that their methods were not accurate, and perhaps make it stick. But she hasnt. Maybe she's decided it's best to let it go & hopes it blows over.

My prediction: I'll be surprised if Elizabeth Dole loses the election. This is the south, she's a fairly conservative Republican, I dont think I need to paint a picture.

Anyway, interesting reading if you're interested. If you aren't interested, its pretty boring. This most likely is, but possibly not, my last commentary of any kind on the 2008 elections.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stuff Around The House # 4 - Pickles the Dog

This is number 4 in my possibly never ending series of stuff around the house. Pickles, our blue tick/Lab mix certainly counts. This is a picture of Pickles attacking a new rawhide bone.

Pickles' official name is Pickles, but we have all kinds of names for her. Here are some that I can print:

Pickles T. Dog. (T stands for the)
Pickles P. Dog (P stands for puppy)
P. Pickles Dog (if she's puttin' on airs)
P. Dog
P. Doggy
Gnarls Barkley
Pickles Anne
Pickleheimer (Don't ask me why, Patti Anne just started doing it)
Monster Dog

There are probably some others.

She's young, and still a hand full, and I have to constantly remind myself of all we've accomplished in the 6 months we've had her.

She's housebroken.

She heels quite nicely.

If treats are involved she will sit and stay until I release her - its funny, she looks at me, not the treat. When I say ok, its a mad dash across the room to scoop it up.

We've taught her to catch things in mid-air.

But, this is a high energy dog, and it's not easy to get her the exercise she needs everyday. We take her on long walks. We Skipperize her frequently (Skipper is a friendly Rottweiler next door. 10 minutes with Skipper gives her more of a work out than the much longer walks I take her on).

Anyway. Pickles the dog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The 2nd night in a row.....

For the second night in a row, I can't log on to entrecard. I don't get an error message, it just never gets to the login page. When I log directly into my blog, the drop box, where someone advertises on my site, displays an error message. I don't know if it's just me, or if everyone else is having problems. But, that's why I havent dropped on my regulars in the last couple of days.

*** an update ***

I was able finally to get it & dropped on a very small number of blogs. Response time is sloooooow, so I'm giving it up for today. Again, don't know if it's me or the planet at large.

So, I'll leave you all with another Leoism. I have found that you get more money if you sell something a little too cheap than you do if you don't sell something a little too expensive. Funny how that works.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Uninformed View Concerning the Upcoming Election in North Carolina

I've noticed that I've not been reading the newspapers a lot lately. I used to read them all the time, I especially liked international news. But for a long time now, we've not had a paper delivered to our house, so I've been getting most of my news from TV and online. Now, I'm reasonably smart, I'm the proud possessor of a degree in History, with a minor of all things, in Political Science. By the time I realized how much I didnt like Political Science, or politics in general, I almost had enough credits for a minor, so I went ahead and got it. But I actually have almost as many credits in English Literature, and I like that a lot better. I am not an undecided voter. When it come times to pick, I know who I'll be voting for, for president, NC governor and United States Senator. Not so sure about Congressman yet. Be that as it may, my views don't matter much and I'm not about to try to change anyone else's.

I'm not completely uninformed about this election, just perhaps under informed. The last I read & heard on TV was that the pollsters consider North Carolina a toss up state. That surprises me. This is the state that sent Jesse Helms, a tad on the conservative side (big understatement) to the senate for 60 years (I exaggerate, but not by much), re-electing him the last time when he was 101 years old (if I exaggerate here, again, it isnt by much. Checking facts is pretty boring). Elizabeth Dole, a current senator, who is also a tad on the conservative side, has been in DC for about 40 years now. Democrat or Republican doesnt matter - the state is conservative. It's always been my impression that to get to the right of your typical politician in North Carolina, you'd have to drive up on the sidewalk (this analogy doesnt work too well in the UK, 'cause you all drive on the other side of the road. So just turn it around. Or maybe it does work, spacial relationships was never my strong point. Its why I can't fix anything that breaks. And it really only makes sense in countries where people tend to obey traffic laws) In this respect North Carolina is fairly typical of southern states - from Virginia to Texas, from Kentucky to Mississippi. So what the heck is North Carolina doing being considered a toss up, a state which, if the election were held now, could possibly be won by Barack Obama? Why is this state not solidly in John McCain's camp? Why is there any question? I don't know, but if John McCain has to fight for North Carolina, that does not bode well for his chances, in my opinion.

There are tons of political commercials on television right now. I'm not sure their content matters. Most of the time, they are full of half truths, things taken out of context and if anyone thinks about it, they'd like to know a little bit more, or maybe ask for some clarification, or know what the context was. For example (and please don't read anything about who I do or don't support into this), in the North Carolina senate race, Kay Hagan, democrat, is running against Elizabeth Dole, republican. One of Kay Hagan's commercials says Elizabeth Dole was rated 93rd out of 100 in effectiveness - only 7 other senators were less effective, in other words. Well, first thing that popped into my mind is, who did the rating? Why doesnt Kay Hagan tell us? If it's the ACLU, that's one thing, if its the Committee to Re-elect Republican Incumbents (I made that up) it's quite another. But, and this is a very interesting thing, why doesnt Elizabeth Dole address it? Why doesnt SHE tell us who did the rating, especially if it was someone like the ACLU? Because if it was group such as that, everybody would say, oh, ok, and that would be that. I'm not down playing the American Civil Liberties Union, we need groups like that to keep people honest, but they and Elizabeth Dole would tend to disagree on a lot of things, so if it was them or a group like them who did the rating, people would think it was politically motivated. So I, as a voter, don't understand why Kay Hagan especially, but Elizabeth Dole also, (or maybe Elizabeth Dole especially) does not tell us who did the this rating. Who said she was pretty near the bottom of the list? As far as I can tell, Elizabeth Dole hasnt addressed it, she's just let it stand, but then, I'm under informed and maybe I missed it. I could look it up, but really, who cares? I'm just using it as a point.

Ok, outside of that. In sheer numbers, there are a lot more Hagan ads that Dole ads, and a lot more Obama ads than McCain ads. I don't know how to interpret that. But one thing it does mean is that Obama, and democrats in general - at the national level, have not written off North Carolina, and that indeed is news. Elizabeth Dole is an institution, maybe she's so powerful here she doesnt need to run a lot of ads. In sheer numbers of TV ads, Barack Obama is absolutely pounding John McCain in North Carolina. What the heck is going on? I would expect very little, if any, effort from a democratic presidential nominee in North Carolina, but that is not the case. They're spending a lot of money here. Obviously they must think they have a chance to win. That is news, but I will still be surprised if Obama carries North Carolina, and if Kay Hagan defeats Elizabeth Dole. But apparently it could happen.

OK - observations while walking the dog. There are a lot of signs out on my dog walking route supporting local politicians running for local elections. I don't know a one, could not tell you a thing about them. There are exactly two signs in yards supporting the national presidential nominees, one for each. They are both on Praley street, and they are within just a couple of houses of each other. If you've ever watched Jeff Foxworthy & paid attention to the section where he shows pictures of "redneck front yards", well that's the house that has the Obama sign in front of it. Interesting. I've never seen the people who live there, but the yard is not attractive, and there's a lot of junk on the front porch (hmmm, kind of like our place till we started using freecycle), the house is older, close to the road, and just has that look. The sign for McCain/Palin is in front of a new house, a house built within the last year. This house is set well back from the road, and has a nice clean yard, though it could use some trees. Perhaps a nice little dogwood, strategically placed. Its a nice house, good sized, and completely, absolutely, with out any doubt, lacking in character. However, I'm sure it's a nicer house than what 80-90% of the people in Valdese live in. Valdese has some nice, expensive neighborhoods, don't get me wrong. But the South Avenue environs is not one of them, and this house sticks out a bit. Anyway someone in there supports John McCain, and aint afraid to let the world know.

On election night, if Obama wins a couple of New England states, like Vermont & New Hampshire, that's an omen. These are small states, but until Bill Clinton, they had gone republican for centuries. Indiana & Kentucky are the first two states to close their polling places. If either of those states go to Obama, that's a really bad omen for McCain. I don't expect it, especially not Kentucky, but you never know. If Obama wins Virginia or North Carolina, both states considered toss ups right now, I think we can turn off the TV and go to bed. Again, I'll be surprised if he does. Florida though, is another story. If McCain wins all the states he should, and then wins Florida, then Obama's in trouble.

Ok, enough of my uninformed, unscientific observations. The economy is really not good right now. What people think about that, who they think is responsible, who they think can fix it, will most likely decide who wins. I reckon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Little Red Dots, White X's & Pop Ups.

This probably should go in my struggles in the ether blog. But, while it is computer related, it is not work related, so I'm putting it here.

I was on my way to bed, when I noticed I had a comment on a post I had written. I was going to access it to read it, but instead my computer decided to log itself off and shut down . Hmmm. So, I brought it back up, and noticed a red dot with a white X on my task bar at the bottom of the screen. Then a pop-up error message appeared, telling me it had found viruses on my computer, and unfortunately I can't remember exactly what the message was. It looked exactly like the windows xp security system, except I don't run windows xp security. It had the icon, the shield, the look, everything. I use (gulp) a symatec product that shall remain nameless, but you all have a good idea of what it is.

Windows updates download regularly. I have it fixed so that I can look at them then decide what to do, they don't update automatically. For some stupid reason, because it was late and I was tired and it had the look of a windows product, and because it lied and said it was a windows product, I clicked it. It did a quick scan (or at least pretended to), told me I had lots of problems, then sent me to a website and asked for $50.00 to register the product. That was when I said ratz, I been had. I obviously did not give them any credit card info.

I went online (still wanted to see that comment) but kept getting blocked, with a message saying I was "computing unprotected" and need to register this product. This was when I noticed that my symatec product wasn't running, and I couldnt get it to run. That was when I looked and noticed that this thing had pretty much hi-jacked the windows security page, made it look exactly like an MS Windows product, and was giving me very dire warnings about my computing situation. Well my computing situation was in a world of trouble, but this program that had some how gotten on my computer was the cause of it.

I did what every real man would do in such a situation, I went and whined to Patti Anne.

Patti Anne and I both have computer & systems type backgrounds, I as a programmer/analyst slash systems engineer & she was a business analyst, involved in installing systems. Most of the time she seems to be better at solving these nasty computer issues than I am.

So anyway we (and when I say we, I mean she) went to work. We're lucky to have more than one computer so I was able to do things on the other while she worked on the problem. I looked up the error command in Google (wish I could remember it), and found it all over the place. It was malware of course, and all the instructions for fixing it involved disabling system recovery, downloading some software, rebooting in safe mode, scanning, manually deleting & I'm thinking crimony, I dont want to do this crap. Actually I was thinking worse than that, but I'll leave it there.

What we actually did, was this. We ran ad-aware SE, full system scan. Took forever, but in the end it found a lot of files. We quarantined & removed those files. Then we did a system recovery from some check point earlier in the day. We knew that my sysmatec software had done a live update at 9:06 PM, and was still active at that point, so we recovered to some point before it apparently stop working. At that point, the red dot and white X were gone. I don't know if the system recovery made it go away, or if ad-aware caught something, or if it was the combination. Now we were also able to get the symatec product running, and we did a quick scan. That caught a nasty little trojan (how nasty I'm not sure) called Perfcoo. If you look in one place (in the symatec software) it says it's among the nastiest of nasties, and terrible to get rid of & you'll probably need help and if you look another place (in the symatec software) it says it's no big deal. Well, symatec caught it, quarantined it, & rebooted, and stuff seemed to work. My desktop is a little odd, the wall paper doesnt quite come down to the task bar for some reason, I'll figure that out later.

This morning, after a less than restfull night, I got up and ran a full system scan. Over an hour and an unbelievable number of files later, it found a tracking cookie, I deleted it and that was that. Nothing terrible. I also downloaded, installed and ran a product called Windows Defender. It came back clean too. I dont like to download stuff, but Patti Anne assures me its ok.

I also ran Ad-aware smart scan this evening, and it came back clean.

I've been online most of the day - a typical ebay day for me - and not had a problem. I dont know if the disease is gone, but I'm not seeing any symptoms. Response seems fine, and I'm having no problems online. My firewall/virus protection etc software has been running all day. It says it's protecting me, which makes me feel good.

We didn't follow the rules to get rid of it. Of course the rules were written by may different people at many different times, dating from 2006, and heck, could be the software has got to the point it can deal with it now. I dont know, but you'd think so. But it appears to be gone. It's like driving a car - there might be something wrong, but it still goes when you give it the gas.

This all took about 3 hrs to accomplish, and made for a bit of a late day, yesterday. Thank you Patti Anne, for being at least a partial geek. Seriously - she has ability & knowledge to deal with these things.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Per Patti Anne's Request - Bottles With Flash

Ok, Patti Anne requested it, so here it is. Bottles with flash. It's always interesting the difference using or not using a flash can make, and debateable sometimes about if it should be used or if its better.
And that my friends, goes to the nature of reality. What is it, in reality, are you seeing? Do you want the camera to reflect, or interpret? Because, no matter how hard you try, it does both. I reckon I, as a photographer, could put emphasis on one or the other, but it does both. The very act of framing a picture interprets reality a touch, even if that picture does nothing more than come close to accurately reflecting what is there.
And if your goal is simply to get the camera to reflect what you see, you've chosen a very difficult thing to accomplish. Your eyes are more sensitive, if you look closely, you'll realize the camera will never see what you see, not exactly.
Anyway, the bottles with flash.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mrs. Powell's Buildings

They're tearing down a couple of Mrs. Powell's buildings. Patti Anne and I sat at Myra's for awhile and watched. One of the buildings, I believe, was the oldest on Main Street.
I think Mrs. Powell is 94 years old. And until a big blow-up happened somehow and the health department condemned her buildings, she rented rooms, rented a house, and rented to businesses. I'm fairly certain that if I make it to 94, I will not be dealing with renters. Most likely I'll be dealing with pieces of burned toast in runny oatmeal. I'm pretty sure that Mrs Powell had enough money that she didnt have to deal with renters if she didnt want to.
She was fun to talk to, I remember sitting out back with her and a couple of cats. She told me she'd have to "scare me up some chesnuts sometime".
Before we even moved to Valdese (back when we lived in Hickory, after first moving to NC), we were looking for a place for a business & we ended up renting a small store space from Mrs. Powell, for what we thought was a good price. It wasnt. We were not aware of the differences between Hickory rents and Valdese rents, and this was the lowest rent we'd seen, by far. (Good reason for that) But compared to other businesses on main street in Valdese, it was high. Our business there (selling antiques, collectibles etc) didn't work out and has moved almost exclusively online now. Part of the reason, not the whole reason, but part of it was the rent. We pretty much found we were working for Mrs. Powell. She would not renegotiate it, so, we left.
About 3 months later someone else moved in with a new business and also failed. They lasted 2 months, I think. And I understand that site had a history of businesses not working out. Hmmmmm..........perhaps we should have done a bit of research. Oh well, water under the bridge. And that little store is history now. I have pictures tho.
3 of Mrs. Powell's 4 buildings will be gone. The large brick building has been bought and sold again - pretty much flipped, except without being fixed up - and is going to be made into condos I believe. We'll see how that goes.
So Mrs. Powell, who was something of an institution in this town, is no longer a force. This was a locally well known person who was either liked or not liked by everyone, as is usually the case with locally well known people. I remember thinking, and probably commenting to Patti Anne, after just a couple of conversations with Mrs. Powell, that I bet she had some enemies around town. It was just an impression, nothing specific. But, except for sticking it to us over rent, Mrs. Powell was always nice to us. It was interesting to listen to her talk.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here I am paraphrasing the preacher again

It is better to be thought merely good by the very good, than to be thought very good by the merely good.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stuff around the house # 3 - some plant cuttings

These are some plant cuttings on the window sill of our kitchen. This is another picture I took with & without flash, just to see what it looked like and because digital cameras have really cheap film. This was the one without flash - the flashed washed all the color out of the walls, though it did sharpen up the bottles.
Shooting a subject in a window is problematic in the best of circumstances. In the old days of 35mm cameras, back before everything was so automatic, I could get around this by taking the light sample in the area just below the subject, and setting apeture/speed accordingly, then focus on the subject (in this case the bottles & the plants) and ignore the light meter. The last camera I was competent enough to do that with has long since been retired. In some ways going digital is a step backwards, but it is much more convenient. I pretty much take what this camera gives me and it does ok for the most part.
Anyway, plants in bottles on the kitchen window sill. More stuff around my house.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A visit to the thrift store

Today we visited the thrift store down on main street. If you're from Valdese, you know the one I'm talking about. If you aren't, then just imagine.

It's been forever since we've been to the thrift store downtown, but they were having a 50% off sale, so Patti Anne says hey, let's go. So we went.

I don't really like the thrift store. It's depresssing. I always feel better going in than I do coming out.

The nicest part of the place is a landing (the thrift store mezzanine, I call it) where they have books and pictures on the wall, and places to sit. There's a downstairs, this landing, and an upstairs. And one of these places is not like the others, one of these places doesnt belong. Because it's not packed and cluttered, and there's room to sit and look at a book.

Books and pictures. The pictures first. I've bought some interesting pictures from thrift stores and none of these were interesting. Its like they were trying too hard to be nice. When I buy a thrift store picture, I'm not looking for nice, I'm looking for odd. Perhaps these people are into socialist realism, I don't know. Anyway. The books were a mixture of hardbacks & paperbacks, and I spent some time looking. I walked away with James Michner's "Alaska", and another kind of humor book who's name I can't remember. The Michner book looks like about 2,000 pages of small print, so I guess I'm in for it for awhile. 300 pages to him is a short story. Any story that starts with the shifting of continental plates is gonna have some detail. I think the two books together cost 75 cents - so can't beat the price.

But the place was soooooo depressing. It's really hard go get me to go there.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think of myself as being above shopping a thrift store, not at all. Sometimes you can find some nice and interesting things thrift stores & sometimes you can get a heck of a bargain. But this particular one, down on main street, is just bad for my mental health. I'll have to think about exactly why.

** the passage of about 2 seconds time **

Ok thought about it. It's the colors, lighting, the displays, the generally old clothes and stuff (and not old in a good way), a slight claustrophobic feeling, the cheap and old children's toys piled in boxes, nothing in the place is fun or interesting or even remotely nice. Except (for me at least), the books. If you're lucky, you can find a good book pretty dog gone cheap.

Monday, September 29, 2008

OK More Language.

This concerns the use and/or alternate meanings of some words that I grew up with. At least one of these words I never hear anybody use anymore, except back home, where it's fairly common. So we'll start with that one.

And that word is nary. Nary is a great little word, its just a negation. It can mean not one, not any, none, nothing, things along those lines.

"I brought home these books but I aint read nary one"
"He brought his camera, but didnt take nary picture".
"Not nary one of 'ems any 'count".

It's perfectly acceptable to add 'a' after nary, though it can change the meaning slightly: "He didnt git nary a dime from me".

English has this stupid stupid rule that a double negative is somehow logically a positive. That does not pertain to nary - it just makes it stronger. I know for a fact that Russian grammar allows for, indeed encourages double negatives, and "not nary one of 'em" is confused about it. I wonder if that rule was invented by some aristocrat who thought English grammar should conform to the rules of mathematics, as well as Latin.

Law: law is a perfectly common word in English, but back home (and other places too), it has the meaning of police or sheriff.

"The law dont never come down to these parts".
"Best be careful, the law'll be after ya".
"The law knocked on the front door and he went out the back".

I've heard law used this way in other places, but it's very common back home. (Eastern Kentucky)

Country: another perfectly common word in English, but frequently back home it has a much smaller scope.

If someone were to say, "The law got after him and I reckon he left the country", that does not mean this particular person packed his bags and headed to Havana. He just might have headed out to another part of the county. He might hiding out in his Uncle's house up the holler somewhere. When "country" is used this way, it just means they don't know where he is. He isnt home.

Here's another usage: "That's mighty rough country". In this instance they're most likely talking about topographical features.

"I aint familiar with this country", simply means the speaker is somewhere he's never been before.

So, nary, law & country.

Pop quiz: What's "They aint nary law in this country" mean? (in this instance, if you put the 'a' after nary, that would really change the meaning. "nary law" and "nary a law" are two different things.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Per Ms. o. d.'s request, - bookcase # 2.

I will consider this part of my stuff around the house series, which may or may not go on forever.
This picture includes the shelf below the the picture I posted last time. Ms. o. d. wanted to see what was on it. Well, here it is. Starting from left to right.
The first book is "Genesis" by Bill Moyer. Sometime back in the 1980's, something possessed me to join a book club, and this is one of the many books I got that I did not want, before I figured out that I really shouldn't join a book club. Personality wise, I'm just not rigid enough to send in a card every month saying I don't want something. I'm terrible with routine maintenance also, for the same reason. Anyway I read it, but I can't remember what its about.
The next is "The Human Form in Art" & that's a Patti Anne book. I can't draw very well.
Next is "Cavalier in Buckskin", is a biography of George Custer. I found it hard reading, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood when I read it. The same author also wrote a biography of Billy the Kid, which I have somewhere. I found that one more interesting - learned a lot about the history of Lincoln County, New Mexico, as well as about the west in General.
Next is a series of books by Harry Turtledove. This series of 10 or 11 books is an alternate history of North America. People have been playing this game for years - what if the south won the civil war? Well Harry Turtledove is the only one I know who wrote 11 books about it. The first book, "How Few Remain", takes place in 1881. The preface of the book explains how Lee won the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, Md) and pushed on toward Harrisburg, PA. At that point the British & French intervened and force Abraham Lincoln to offer peace terms. Lincoln was not assassinated (and George Custer didn't die in 1876 - he was in Utah and Kansas instead), Stonewall Jackson still lived, and the United States was split into two countries. In 1881, in this history, there was a second war between the states, when Mexico sold the Confederate States (James Longstreet was CSA president) their two Northern States in order to pay off their debt. This made the CSA a continental nation, the USA felt threatened and a war ensued. The British were allied with CSA, and attacked from Canada, so the USA invaded Canada. Abe Lincoln was an old man, he walked out of the Republican party taking about 1/2 its members with him and joined the American Socialist Party. The two party system in the United States became Democrats and Socialists, and to me it seemed much more like a European party system than what we currently have. (It reminds me of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats in Germany). The Democrats were pretty close to reactionary, and the Socialists make Barak Obama look down right conservative. In real history, Lincoln emancipated the slaves in 1862 (or 1863, I forget). He freed the slaves in all the areas where he did not have control, so the initial impact was more propaganda than anything, but propaganda's important. In this history, the south manumitted the slaves in 1881. There is a huge difference between emancipation and manumission, and that is a big part of the entire rest of the series of books. So that's the first book.
The next book picks up at WWI - trench warfare in the USA, with the USA supporting Kaiser Wilhelm. And on it goes. During the series, the USA takes Canada away from the British, not a popular move with Canadians, Quebec becomes a country, a pawn of the USA, fascism arises in the Southern states and so on.
My favorite character in the series was Scipio. I think he shows up in the 2nd book, and plays a role all the way through. He was born a slave, but was manumitted, and was unique. He was a house slave in a South Carolina plantation, and was educated so he could play the role of a high class sophisticated butler. He spoke two dialects - that of the educated elite, and that of the former slaves along the Congalese River, and nothing in between.
Harry Turtledove weaves complicated plot and sub-plots, and kills off a lot of major characters. Sometimes the characters run into each other, but usually there is a whole lot of different but parallel stories going on. It can become wonderfully complicated. Some of the books are more interesting than others.
I'm from the south, I grew up in eastern Kentucky. I've lived all over the United States, and I've spent 8 years of my life in Germany, so I've seen a fair amount. No matter how much my Eastern Kentucky accent mellowed throughout my life, whenever I opened my mouth in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Indiana (near Chicago-land), Colorado, California or most anywhere else I lived, people knew that I came from somewhere south of the Ohio River. Heck, my paternal grandfather was named after James Longstreet, Lee's 2nd in command after Jackson died. Anybody who does not think Kentucky is a Southern State, has never been there. Now I live in North Carolina, where there is no confusion at all. I identify with the south, much more than I do with the north - its culture is much more what I'm used to and comfortable with. Harry Turtledove (from California) feels it would have been a terrible fate for North America if the south had won the civil war, if you can believe his voluminous fiction writing on the subject. I'm very much inclined to agree. For a century, southerner's thought a bolt of lightening would shoot out of the heavens and strike them dead if they voted for a Republican. Abe Lincoln, considered a great man in most of the country, was despised in the south. Well the veterans of the confederate army are all dead now, and so are their children, and most likely their grandchildren are dead and their great grandchildren don't remember, so the war is good and over. I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I think Harry Turtledove probably got it right.
I bought all these books off of Amazon, for anything from a penny to a few dollars. Plus shipping, of course.
In the midst of the Turtledove books is a stein I bought in Germany, a souvenir of where I was stationed & used to work when I was in the Army.
After the Turtledoves is a little blue book called "The Moon is Down" by John Steinbeck. This book came with Patti Anne & it is a first edition. I've not read it yet.
Then comes "A Walking Tour of Harper's Ferry", which I bought in Harper's Ferry.
I read "Destiny", tho I can't remember the name of the author & I'm too lazy to look right now, and I also read "Revolution in Russia". I havent read the others.
So that's it. Another part of the book case.