Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AID’S?

aidsday

I noticed this monument to idiocy taped to the door at the Mexican restaurant where we had lunch yesterday.

Obviously, the Arkansas State University Department of Social Work put the wrong person in charge of creating the flyers for their World AIDS Day Conference tomorrow and Friday.

I’m used to seeing horrible things done with apostrophes in the creation of plurals. I’ve even seen a sign at a Florida campground expressing “thank’s” to departing visitors. But it takes a special kind of punctuation illiteracy to stick an apostrophe in front of the S in AIDS. Notice that the mistake is not repeated in a later reference to AIDS.

There are apparently lots of people who think any word that ends in the letter s needs an apostrophe. Seems like we all should have learned that in the third or fourth grade, yet we see stuff like this coming out of a university. Shame. Shame.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Schneesturm

nov29snow
The rain turned to snow about 6 o’clock last evening and it continued through most of the night to give us the first snowfall of the season.
There’s always something charming about the first snow of the season that later snows can’t possibly replicate because my perception changes from novel and beautiful to cold, sloppy, and inconvenient. I like snow better here in northeast Arkansas because it doesn’t overstay its welcome and generally melts away in a day or two. The overnight temperature never got below 35, so this snow was doomed from the get-go and is melting quickly. The last time I looked, the forecast was for windy weather and a high around 47, meaning the snow will be gone by sundown.
Jack, being only 12 weeks old, had never seen snow before last night. He didn’t seem particularly impressed..

4:55 p.m. -  As I predicted, the temperature rose into the 40s and the snow is gone.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Training and proper gear do make a difference

I attended a toy run weekend before last put on by the Association Motorcycle Club and ABATE of Arkansas.inmemoryof

I saw several local Harley folks with patches on their vests that said, "In loving memory of" and then 2, 3, 4 or more patches below with the names of friends who presumably were killed in motorcycle accidents.

I've been a member of the Indianapolis BMW Club for about 30 years and I can't recall any member of our club being killed in a motorcycle crash. We've had our share of crashes, but no fatalities that I can think of.

I put the question to members who frequent the club message board and, so far, nobody can come up with an Indianapolis BMW Club motorcycle fatality.

Tim Balough came the closest with this:

Yes. I think it was in the early 80s. Gentleman in his 70s had a heart attack on the east side of Indy. he was on the interstate, and after the heart attack, missed a turn and hit an abutment.

I went to visit his widow with another club member, but I can't remember the gentleman's name or which club member.

Given the circumstances, I’m not inclined to count this as a motorcycle fatality since there’s a good possibility that he was dead before his bike crashed.

I also got these replies:

I count myself fortunate to ride a BMW. As a medical helicopter pilot in Indiana I have seen my fair share of motorcycle deaths and serious injuries.  None of them involved a BMW. Two nights ago a young man was killed despite some really talented medical professionals doing their best.  

As a helicopter pilot I expect something to go wrong and am always looking for landing spots if the need arises. In 25 years of flying I haven't had the  need yet.  Every time I get on my r1150rt I expect to hit the pavement so I dress accordingly. In 3 years of riding I haven't had the need yet.  I like to think of myself as a pessimistic optimist. Some folks just call this bipolar :-).

Keep riding safely,
Bob Gaudet 

AE-39 base pilot

And:

Hi all: I am Bob Nevitt a fairly new member. My K1200 is my 5th BMW, but that is another story. I can't even remember any serious accidents in the 44 plus years I have been involved with BMW. The Harley guys, and I have quiet a few customers with HD motorcycles, they all break almost every safety rule I have committed to NEVER do. I am a private pilot also, and the "Eight hours from the bottle to the Throttle" is double with my bike. I wont go TEN FEET with out a helmet, gloves and good jacket regardless of the outside temp or weather conditions.

My Harley customers, on the other hand rarely wear a helmet, just the "smart" ones, and where our club motto is "Ride to Eat" theirs could be characterized by " Ride to be free" or more correctly Ride to Imbibe.

I personally witnessed a low speed fatality where at 30 miles an hour, a car pulled out in front, and BAUM. There was no chance.  The rider went about 30 feet and landed on his head. There was gray matter visible.  I got religion there after.  The Harley guys are a less careful bunch and a lot do self maintenance, and that can go either way. But my head won't stop safely at any speed with no helmet protection..
There is  the other aspect of the rougher MC clubs.  They often speed,change lanes, and don't signal intentions, plus all that chrome is heavy and hard to stop.  It is a different world.  I've seen both sides.  What is scary is the crotch rockets with 165 HP at the wheel and 0 to 160 in 12 seconds.  They seem hell bent for destruction.  I didn't get this old by being stupid.    Just a few thoughts .  Bob Nevitt

And this from Theresia Shearer:

As the saying goes…there is old and there is stupid. There is no old stupid.  

The race track performance of the crotch rockets is scary…but the scary part is that the riders often lack of skill, knowledge and experience…see old, stupid.

Unfortunately the Harley stereotype is often earned. On the other hand I have a Harley riding friend who has come very close the last two years to setting a Bonneville speed record for his class on a highly modified crotch rocket.

John, I also cannot remember any fatalities. We’ve had several serious accidents in the club but ”all the gear all the time” had to do with a lot of the folks walking away. Okay, so maybe they didn’t always walk away from the accident but they finally walked away from therapy! In every case that I’m aware of, the riders firmly believed that their use of safety gear made a difference.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Here’s to Boscos

boscos_0001

My BMW riding compadre Charlie Parsons bought me a membership in the 2012 Boscos Mug Club at Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. in Memphis.

I was issued my official beer mug yesterday, drank two mugfulls of Boscos stout, had one of their delicious Reuben sandwiches and passed a splendid afternoon with Charlie and his wife Deborah.

boscos_0002

Boscos 2012 Mug Club membership includes:

  • Your own 2012 Boscos Mug
  • A full mug of beer at the current pint price
  • Mug Club Mondays featuring $3.00 Mugs all day every Monday
  • Mug Club Saturdays featuring $3.00 Mugs until 5pm every Saturday
  • Special Mug Club Parties throughout the year with beer and food specials, giveaways and more.

The mugs are numbered and placed on shelves above the bar, where they will remain for the next year. At the end of the year, you can renew your membership to get a new mug and take your old one home.

Charlie is holding his 2011 mug and Deb is using his new 2012 mug.

The 2012 mug has a Mayan calendar design to mark the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.

boscos_0005

boscos_0006

Thanks, Charlie! What a cool early Christmas gift!

A matter of opinion and taste

I subscribe to Robbie Robertson’s Facebook feed and was intrigued last week when he posted about being pleased to be included in the new Rolling Stone list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.

I clicked the link and was shocked to see Robbie, who played with The Band, Bob Dylan and has had several excellent solo albums over the past 20 years, was ranked 59th. Fifty-ninth? WTF?

So I explored the list further and was shocked to find Pete Townshend, who I would rank #1, in tenth place.

And Sonny Landreth, who Eric Clapton opined is the most under-appreciated guitarist in the world, didn’t even make the list. That, my friends, is utter and complete bullshit.

The list is a revised version of the one created in 2003 by Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke. He ranked Townshend as 50th in that one.

This kind of thing, of course, is highly subjective but I’m damned if I can understand the logic behind most of the choices.

Here’s the RS list:

 

Top 100 Guitarists of All Time (2011 version):
1.Jimi Hendrix
2.Eric Clapton
3.Jimmy Page
4.Keith Richards
5.Jeff Beck
6.B.B. King
7.Chuck Berry
8.Eddie Van Halen
9.Duane Allman
10.Pete Townshend
11.George Harrison
12.Stevie Ray Vaughan
13.Albert King
14.David Gilmour
15.Freddy King
16.Derek Trucks
17.Neil Young
18.Les Paul
19.James Burton
20.Carlos Santana
21.Chet Atkins
22.Frank Zappa
23.Buddy Guy
24.Angus Young
25.Tony Iommi
26.Brian May
27.Bo Diddley
28.Johnny Ramone
29.Scotty Moore
30.Elmore James
31.Ry Cooder
32.Billy Gibbons
33.Prince
34.Curtis Mayfield
35.John Lee Hooker
36.Randy Rhoads
37.Mick Taylor
38.The Edge
39.Steve Cropper
40.Tom Morello
41.Mick Ronson
42.Mike Bloomfield
43.Hubert Sumlin
44.Mark Knopfler
45.Link Wray
46.Jerry Garcia
47.Stephen Stills
48.Jonny Greenwood
49.Muddy Waters
50.Ritchie Blackmore
51.Johnny Marr
52.Clarence White
53.Otis Rush
54.Joe Walsh
55.John Lennon
56.Albert Collins
57.Rory Gallagher
58.Peter Green
59.Robbie Robertson
60.Ron Asheton
61.Dickey Betts
62.Robert Fripp
63.Johnny Winter
64.Duane Eddy
65.Slash
66.Leslie West
67.T-Bone Walker
68.John McLoughlin
69.Richard Thompson
70.Jack White
71.Robert Johnson
72.John Frusciante
73.Kurt Cobain
74.Dick Dale
75.Joni Mitchell
76.Robby Krieger
77.Willie Nelson
78.John Fahey
79.Mike Campbell
80.Buddy Holly
81.Lou Reed
82.Nels Cline
83.Eddie Hazel
84.Joe Perry
85.Andy Summers
86.J Mascis
87.James Hetfield
88.Carl Perkins
89.Bonnie Raitt
90.Tom Verlaine
91.Dave Davies
92.Dimebag Darrell
93.Paul Simon
94.Peter Buck
95.Roger McGuinn
96.Bruce Springsteen
97.Steve Jones
98.Alex Lifeson
99.Thurston Moore
100. Lindsey Buckingham

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Backyard explorer

DCIM\100GOPRO

Jack explores the backyard of his new home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pete and Repete

pals

Here are Pete and Repete (Jack) dozing butt-to-butt in an afternoon sunbeam outside the back door.

Considering the somewhat prickly relationship between Pete and Ruthie, mostly because of Ruthie’s belief that Pete was actually some kind of lesser being brought into the family to make her miserable and less important, this kind of closeness after less than a week is surprising.

Pete is clearly a mentor and someone Jack looks to for cues on how to be a dog in this family. Jack follows him around the yard, running at him playfully and trying to get Pete to give chase. Pete hasn’t played with Jack yet, but we expect he will.

When a neighbor’s chocolate Lab came into the yard yesterday morning while Maria and I and Jack were out, Pete went into a low crouch and went at him like a freight train, barking his deepest, most threatening bark and chased him away. That was the first time we’ve ever seen Pete assume the role of protector, but he has clearly come into his own since Ruthie’s departure.

I think they’re going to be great pals.

Money in the mail!

bigcheck

Well, sorta.

I was a very very minor party to a class action suit against Ebay Motors, claiming that Ebay overcharged seller fees for stuff sold in the Parts & Accessories department between April 21, 2006 and Aug. 26, 2009.

Too bad it didn’t cover sales a couple of years earlier when I was parting out and selling most of my 1991 BMW K100RS on Ebay.

My piece of the settlement fund amounts to $1.52.

Woo-hoo.

Right now it’s just a Gray Friday

wallacerodeocupIt’s a little after 8 a.m. and the sun is a glowing white orb in the dense fog that blankets Crowley’s Ridge.

You can hear the dew as it drops from the trees and hits the leaves covering the backyard.

Jack the Aussie pup was ready to be up at 6:45, so I obliged him, letting Maria sleep. She worked the late shift last night and got home about 1:15 a.m.  I have orders to wake her at 9 a.m. Consequently, I decided to forgo my usual mocha cappuccino and the steamy racket that goes with preparing it, in favor of a pot of Starbucks Italian Roast coffee, poured into my favorite cup – a 1940s Wallace China Westward Ho Rodeo Pattern. It’s big, clunky, restaurant quality stuff and it reminds me of the time my parents took me to Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1955.

Jack continues to impress us with his eagerness to climb a very steep learning curve. He mastered the dog door less than 72 hours after he arrived. He loves to play fetch with a tennis ball. He’s exploring the far corners of the fenced-in backyard. And he knows the coyotes howling beyond the fence are bad news.

However, he still thinks it’s OK to poop on the back porch, so my to-do list for today includes cleaning up Jack shit.

My Swedish motorcycle suit arrived late Wednesday and is a big disappointment. It’s too small – the cuff on the right sleeve of the liner is to small that I can’t get my hand through it. And seen up close, it’s not all that exotic and cool. It’s just odd. So back it goes into the box it came in and I’ll haul it down to the UPS Store to ship it back.

Thanksgiving was just another day for us, having no family within 450 miles. The only familial contact I had was when Sean called from Santa Rosa, Calif. where he and Ruth are visiting Ruth’s sister. It was great to hear their voices.

Maria went to work at 4 p.m., which left me and Pete and Jack to hang out. Jack is getting more and more outdoors time – probably more than he’s ever had – and when he’s in the house unsupervised he’s in Ruthie’s old kennel, strategically placed where he can see a human and not feel abandoned. I’m not inclined to take any chances with our recently shampooed carpets until he starts to catch on that the backyard is his toilet.

Pete’s puppy cuteness saved his life many times when he gnawed a tassel off of one of my best casual loafers and chewed everything he could get his teeth into. The Cuteness Card is working now for Jack as we await his next bit of mischief. He has happily commandeered all of the dog toys and is especially fond of the Friendly Fox (as seen on TV).

Just for the record, I have no plans to do any Black Friday shopping beyond things we urgently need, like trash bags and a gallon of milk.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

14 years gone

johndadspotxmastree

My dad, Charles Myron Flora, died 14 years ago today in a nursing home in Delphi, Ind. He was 87 years old.

My mom took this picture around Christmas 1952. That lump in front of me is my dog Spot. I started wearing glasses a year later in the third grade.

Notice the Philco table model TV. We got it for Christmas that year. We could kinda get the one station in Indianapolis (WFBM Channel 6) and on a rare occasion WTTV Channel 4 in Bloomington and even more rarely, WGN Channel 9 in Chicago.

But I digress. My dad was a solid citizen who served his church and his community well. Although he enjoyed a beer or two, I never saw him drunk. I didn’t think that was a big deal at the time, but knowing as many adult children of alcoholics as I do now, I realize it was pretty significant. My sons can’t make the same claim.

I miss you, Dad, and I think of you every day.

Jack gets his microchip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jack has had a busy day and is napping in his kennel.

I took him to the vet this morning for a physical and to get microchipped.

He was fine up the point where Dr. John Huff inserted the chip. That hurt, but it was over quickly and now he’s got a record of his identity.

Dr. Huff at the Animal Medical Center in Jonesboro pronounced him “perfect” and was very impressed with his lineage.

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Milton schools Michael

Michael Moore obviously hasn’t learned much in the years since his sophomoric emotion-based argument got swatted down by Milton Friedman in the late 1970s. Logic never was his strong suit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

jack tennis ball

We’ve named our new Australian shepherd puppy Jack after much discussion and thought.

I don’t think “Jack” when I look at him, but I now realize I want to call all dogs “Buddy,” so I’m sure it will start to feel natural soon.

We expected Jack would keep us up most of the night with whining and crying over being separated from his mother and siblings. We were wrong.

He carried on for about 20 minutes Sunday night with the most amazing repertoire of vocalizations, ranging from a whimper to a whine to a moan to several indescribable sounds and finally a full-throated howl. But then he fell silent and slept until about 3 a.m. when he stirred and signaled a need to do some business in the back yard. Maria took him out, he did his thing and then went back into his crate with no complaints.

I took him out again about 5:30 a.m.

He went to bed last night with just the slightest complaint and woke me about 2:45 a.m. with a strange moaning sound that reminded me of the talking cats on America’s Funniest Videos. Maria, who jealously guards her sleep, quickly volunteered to take him out, even though it was pouring rain. It was unclear whether he did both jobs for her, so when he spoke again about an hour later, I pulled on my waterproof camo pants and jacket and Gore-Tex boots and stood in the cold November rain while he pounced and bounded around the yard, maybe pausing to make a deposit.

He slept soundly until the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m.

Our expectations of Aussie puppy behavior were shaped by our experience with Pete. But Pete left home at about 6 weeks, whereas Jack comes to us at 11 1/2 weeks. That and his showdog pedigree make for a much more confident, poised, and calm puppy.

After less than 48 hours with us, he’s confident using the dog door as long as we hold the flap up for him. I expect he’ll do it all by himself by the end of this week.

He looks to us and to Pete for cues and Pete has obliged by taking the alpha dog position he formerly ceded to Ruthie. He’s issued a couple of firm corrections when Jack tried to eat first or beg table scraps. Jack tries hard to get Pete to play, taunting him with tennis balls and the Friendly Fox (as seen on TV), but Pete so far has refused to get involved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What’s in a name?

john buddy 02

We have a new Aussie puppy.

His birthname was Luke but we’re searching for an alternative. I like Buddy or Skip. Maria likes Henry. Some facebook friends like Boomer.

We spent most of yesterday in the car on a round trip of 570 miles. I did all the driving and the pup really bonded with Maria on the way home, alternately looking out the window and napping in her arms.

He’s frisky and smart and extremely handsome. (His grandfather was judged best of breed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show a few years ago.) He wasn’t insanely expensive because he has some kind of subtle defect that keeps him from being a showdog. It’s nothing we can see, so we don’t care.

buddyx3

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Der Deutschen Polizei

I participated in the 27th annual Association Motorcycle Club/ABATE Dist. 2 DCIM\100GOPROToy Run this afternoon with Deb and Charlie Parsons and about 350 other riders and passengers.

Charlie was a symphony in German police green, wearing his authentic Gore-Tex German Polizei riding suit with German police helmet and astride his green BMW R75/5 toaster tank.

To the extent that they could comprehend it, everyone else was in awe of his coolness.

There were at least 5 BMWs in the ride which generated a truckload of toys to be distributed by the Salvation Army at Christmas.

Yellowjacket attack

yellowjacket

Pete the Aussie got swarmed by yellowjackets this morning.

We were taking our regular morning stroll out to the newspaper tube when he started digging in the leaves alongside the driveway. The next thing we knew, he was being swarmed, and maybe stung, by dozens of yellowjackets.

He headed for the garage door and Maria yelled for me to get the garden hose to spray them away. In the meantime, she grabbed a push broom and – to his great credit – Pete trusted her and held still while she used the broom to shoo away most of the wasps. Yes, they’re wasps, not bees. And unlike bees, they can sting multiple times.

I turned on the hose, getting my pants soaked in the process because of a leaky nozzle connection, but Maria had most of the wasps brushed away before I could get a clear shot at him. She and Pete fled into the house where a yellowjacket under her flannel shirt stung her in the right side. She chased it down with a flyswatter and killed it. Inspecting the shirt, I found a second wasp, brushed it into a trash bag and smashed it.

We called the vet’s office and are following the recommendation of Benadryl every four hours and pain meds that we had left over from Ruthie’s knee surgery. We can’t find any sting sites on Pete, but it’s hard to tell because his fur is so thick. The vet said he’s most vulnerable around the mouth, but his lips look okay.

Maria is on Benadryl too and says the sting hurts like a mofo.

Aussie puppy shopping

aussieluke

Luke

aussiemarty

Marty

We’re off to an Australian shepherd breeder tomorrow to look at these two puppies.

Which one do you like?

Friday, November 18, 2011

John Steinbeck and me

cannery row

Here’s a photo from 1997 when Maria flew out to Monterey, Calif. to rendezvous with me for week on the California Central Coast.

I’m sharing my sunglasses with a bronze figure of author John Steinbeck on Cannery Row in Monterey. According to a ticket stub from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the exact date was July 16, 1997 – two days after my 52nd birthday. If I look like I was having a good time, it’s because I was.

Faster, bigger, better

dell 64gb

It took a couple of weeks, but my netbook is back in action with a new solid state hard drive.

The 64GB SSD I ordered on Nov. 4 to replace the 32GB drive that crapped out while we were at Table Rock Reservoir finally showed up in our mailbox this morning.

And less than three hours later, I’m up and running, having cloned the Windows XP (SP3) operating system and some other basic stuff from the original 8 GB SSD that came with my Dell Inspiron Mini 9. I also installed software to let me use my Wifi-enabled Kodak printer, For Two Wheels Only (FTWO), a record-keeping program for motorcycles that I’ve used since the ‘90s; Open Office, a free office suite, and the latest version of GIMP, a free image editing program.

I needed an antivirus program, so I installed Titanium Internet Security 2012 by Trend Micro. I got a review copy from the Amazon.com Vine program and this was the first opportunity to put it onto one of our machines and evaluate it for a review.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The waiting game continues

So much for U.S. Postal Service tracking.

My 64GB solid state drive got to Little Rock a few minutes before 5 a.m. today, but the tracking site said it was scheduled for delivery today.

NFW can a package that’s in Little Rock at 5 a.m. end up in my post office box the same day.

So maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, our renter needs another week to get his November rent check to us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weird enough to be cool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         As I’ve demonstrated here before, I’m a sucker for exotic jacket designs.

I was cruising some online military surplus web sites to see if there were any good deals on fun stuff today when I found myself at militarysupplyhouse.com.

Working my way down the categories, I finally came to “Gone But Not Forgotten” in which the proprietor laments the disappearance of Swiss field jackets and a Swedish motorcycle jacket he calls “one of the finest military smcjackets ever made. They are super thick canvas with a thick pile liner. If you have a quantity of these, we would like to buy them.”

The accompanying photo looked kinda cool, so I Googled “Swedish motorcycle jacket” and found a link to The Sportsman’s Guide. I’ve seen commercials for The Sportsman’s Guide on the Outdoor Channel, but never bothered to check them out before today.

Turns out they have the jacket in question for a mere $49.97 and they have the pants for just $26.97! Plus, I get an $8 discount if I join their Buyer’s Club for $29.99 a year. It only took about a half-hour of browsing their insanely rich inventory of U.S. and foreign military surplus to realize the Buyer’s Club deal works for me.

So I ordered the jacket and pants, just to see if they’re as cool as they look online. I figure I can resell them on Ebay if they turn out to be crap.

At the very least, I’ll almost certainly be the only BMW rider in northeast Arkansas with a Swedish Army motorcycle suit.

Fall has fallen

woods01That carpet of leaves was still attached to the trees this time last week.

But a couple of days of wind, followed by more than 6 inches of rain over a 48-hour period pretty much stripped the trees of their fall foliage and ended our autumnal views of the woods for another year.

The wading pool I bought for the dogs during the hottest days of the summer (which they refused to use) blew over to the chain link fence and filled up with poolrain, starting Monday evening and continuing until about sunrise today.

Pete the Aussie freaks out during thunderstorms. Even the most distant rumble sends him to one of his “safe” spots. When we’re watching TV in the living room, that means under the round leather-topped table boxed in by the couch and a chair. Options are under a toilet in one of the bathrooms or at the back of our walk-in bedroom closet.

We took pity on him last night and let him sleep between us on the bed. Pete never was much of a jumper and since he’s gained weight, he won’t even try to jump up onto the bed. So it falls to me to lift him onto the bed, where he flops down like a big bag of water softener salt and doesn’t budge for the rest of the night.

I don’t usually do much leaf-raking here. Some years, I fire up the mower and mulch leaves, but the yard is full of branch-ends dropped by squirrels building nests and I’m not keen on banging up my mower blades on sticks.

We shall see…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waiting for a new SSD

I haven’t gone in to town for morning coffee in weeks.64gb ssd

Mostly, it’s because I prefer to make mocha cappuccino here at home, saving money I would otherwise spend on gasoline and coffee.

My motivation to go to Seattle Grind for coffee and blogging was further eroded a couple of weeks ago when the 32GB solid state drive in my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook crapped out.

As soon as I established it was the SSD, and not the motherboard, that failed, I ordered a heavily discounted 64GB SSD from mydigitaldiscount.com. It takes them awhile to process some orders, but I confirmed this morning that my SSD went into the U.S. Postal mail stream last night, so I should see it tomorrow or Thursday.

Once my netbook is back on its feet, I’m sure I’ll feel more inclined to get out in the mornings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our best movie discovery this year

 

We made a great cinematic discovery over the weekend after we ran out of familiar stuff to watch on streaming video.

It’s “The Girl Trilogy,” three Swedish-language films beginning with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” continuing with “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” and concluding with lisbeth_v2-e1270846964571“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

They’re based on the best-selling novels by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson and they star Noomi Rapace in the title role.

I predict Noomi will be a very big deal in U.S. cinema. She’s in the new Sherlock Holmes movie and is certain to have a stellar career.

We started watching the first movie on streaming Netflix, but it kept hanging up, so we switched over to Amazon.com’s free streaming movies for Amazon Prime members and ended up with better HD and no interruptions.

We watched the first two films with English subtitles and the third dubbed in English. I think I prefer subtitles, but it’s not a big deal.

What puzzles me is the fact that an American re-make of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is coming out next month. The title role in the re-make is played by Rooney Mara who, at least in the promotional material, isn’t remotely interesting compared with Rapace.

Before you gamble on the re-make, do yourself a favor and see the original. Odds are, you’ll be hooked and compelled to finish the story with the second and third films.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A reminder

ruthie card

I noticed the other day that we still have Ruthie’s collar, tags and leash in the back seat of the Subaru where we put them on Oct. 17 when we left the vet’s office without her.

The office staff decided to spell her name with a “y” instead of the “ie” that we preferred, but we never bothered to correct them.

They issue a plastic wallet card for each pet they vaccinate, which comes in handy when you take your pet to a groomer or someone else who needs assurance that the vaccinations are current. This is Ruthie’s card, which I can’t bring myself to throw away. It will be a long time before we’re ready to discard her collar, tags and leash, tool. Maybe never. I don’t know why they didn’t put her microchip number on the card. It ought to be in their records.

Since Ruthie was a rescue dog, we had no way of knowing her exact birthdate, but we guessed she was about four months old when we got her in October, 1998. So I arbitrarily gave her my mother’s June 16 birthday. She had a way of looking at me that reminded me of my mother’s stern gaze, so it just seemed natural.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sounds like a good read

Quote of the day

 
I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.
William F. Buckley Jr.

Problem solved, sorta

I decided against the purchase of a second wireless router to support streaming re1000video in the living room.

Instead, I bought a Linksys RE1000 Wireless-N Range Extender. I figured it should work well with our newish Linksys wireless router, being the same brand and all.

I struggled with the setup process for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, using the Sony VAIO laptop. Setup can only be performed with a computer using a wireless link to the Internet, ruling out our two hard-wired desktop computers.

I finally realized the BitDefender firewall was getting in the way. Once I disabled it, the setup proceeded flawlessly. Now we have a full five bars of signal strength throughout the house, including the living room and the Wifi-enabled Blu-ray player. Content from Amazon.com plays without a hitch, but Netflix content still hangs up, leading me to conclude the problem is either with Netflix or the through-put rate of our cable provider.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sean!

seanern
My son Sean is 44 years old today.
He is an astoundingly talented recording engineer and producer in Portland, Ore. and has the wonderful ability to help musicians turn ordinary concepts into extraordinary sonic experiences. I’ve watched him work with clients and his ability to bring out the best in them is a delight to see.
Happy Birthday, Sean! You make me proud.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday electronic stuff

The original 8GB solid state drive is back in my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook after the failure last week of the 32GB RunCore SSD.
It works, but just barely, with only about 600MB of free space on the drive after the OS updates and a handful of essential programs.
The good news is that I’ve ordered a 64GB RunCore SSD to replace it, which should be a significant increase in performance.
In the meantime, I’ll use the netbook sparingly and rely more heavily on my desktop computer.
I was pleased to notice that all of my electronics linked to the Internet – computers, cell phone and iPod – were aware of the end of Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. today and reset themselves accordingly.
Our Wifi enabled Blu-ray player has been annoyingly wonky because it doesn’t get a strong enough signal from the wireless-N router at the other end of the house. This results in interruptions in streaming video that can be maddening at times.
Since I have a spare cable modem, left over from when the cable guy added telephony to our service, I’m planning to set up a second wireless network closer to the Blu-ray player. All I need now is a cheap wireless router and I found one this morning in the Best Buy insert in the Sunday paper for $50. With a router transmitting from only 20 feet away from the Blu-ray player, our problems should be over.
Should be…

Friday, November 04, 2011

Playing catch-up

Ozark Vacation_0014

We got home last evening from a three-day, two-night trip to the Bluegreen Wilderness Club at Big Cedar in Ridgedale, Mo.

It’s a massive resort complex on the southeast side of Table Rock Reservoir a few miles south of Branson, Mo.

Maria’s parents were planning an autumn visit, so we signed up for the three-day getaway at the Bass Pro Shops store in Memphis several weeks ago. The catch was that we had to sit through a time-share presentation that was touted as a no-pressure half-hour deal.

No. It was a one-on-two presentation that lasted nearly three hours Wednesday morning.

The presentation was kind of a buzzkill after being dazzled with the appointments of our site – flatscreen TVs in the living room and both bedrooms, infinitely detailed d├ęcor designed to make the place look like an Adirondack hunting/fishing lodge, full kitchen, concierge service, and super prompt to-your-door shuttle service to and from anywhere on the enormous property.

Maria’s mom opted to hang out in the suite Wednesday morning, so OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaria and her dad and I went to breakfast at the Devil’s Pool Restaurant where omelet chef Doyle Crockett whipped up a couple of the best omelets we’ve ever tasted.

The shuttle delivered us to the presentation center and Maria’s dad back to the suite.

After the sales presentation, we drove up to the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store in Springfield. It’s the company’s mothership and, as the sign over the front door says, is the “granddaddy of all outdoor stores.”

We had the lunch buffet at Hemingway’s restaurant in the store, then spent a couple of hours exploring and buying shirts and pants. We only spent about $10 out of pocket there since we’d been given $75 in Bass Pro Shops gift cards for sitting through the sales pitch.

Back at the suite, I fired up my netbook to blog and found it wouldn’t load Windows – gave me a “no operating system found” message.

The weather was sunny and warm Tuesday and Wednesday, but a cold front moved in Wednesday night and sent the temperature plunging into the low 40s with rain and blustery winds.

We hit the road about 9 a.m., Maria’s parents heading north to visit the site of Gene’s Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and us homeward bound via Batesville for lunch at Josie’s and fabric from Marshall’s Dry Goods.

We were running ahead of schedule, so I phoned the kennel and had Pete ready to be picked up by the time we arrived at 4:30 p.m.

Later in the evening, I got around to looking into my netbook problem. I put the old 8GB hard drive in and it worked perfectly, leading me to conclude that the 32GB RunCore SSD has died. It didn’t take anything irreplaceable with it when it went, so it will be a simple matter to replace it and re-install software I need.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

On vacation, kinda

bigcedarporch

We’re enjoying the luxuries of the Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Reservoir for three days and two nights with Maria’s parents.

It was a four-hour drive from home over some insane twisty roads but it was worth the drive.

The amenities are astonishing and the service is wonderful.

This is a deal put together by Bass Pro Shops. We signed up a few months ago at the Memphis Bass Pro Shops with the understanding that we get three days and two nights at the resort if we agreed to sit through a condo timeshare presentation. The guy who signed us up said it would be a 30-minute presentation with no pressure. We heard this evening it would be 90-120 minutes, but what the hell. It’s still a reasonable price to pay, especially since they’re throwing Bass Pro Shops gift cards at us.

We had a killer dinner this evening at one of the on-premises restaurants and understand there’s more like that to come.

We’re heading up to Springfield, Mo. and the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World mothership. I was there last spring with a friend, but we only spent about an hour wandering around. We’ll do some quality time shopping tomorrow.