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.