The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dodging a Really Big Bullet

Woe be to the unbeliever, a giant asteroid is allegedly going to fly past the Earth today.

Here's a little video that shows the path and the relationship to this little rock we call "home."

It will pass by at a distance of some 3.6 million miles. Close in astronomical terms but well enough distant to not be a threat. 

A thought occurred to me about all the other Really Big Space Rocks that have passed by us over the centuries when we did not have the technology to detect them in advance.

Let me quote from the article on

"The asteroid poses no threat of hitting Earth during the flyby, NASA officials assure."

Think about that... Do you think the powers-that-be would tell us something like:

"We are all going to die when this monstrous space rock slams into us on Friday, May 31st."

No, I don't think they would either. On the other hand, would you really want to know?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

In the "Learn Something New Each Day" Department

As I have written before, I do some crosswords each morning to clear the cobwebs from my feeble mind. They serve another purpose, though, they also sometimes provide grist for the mill. This morning, for example, a clue and its answer caused me to ponder... something very similar to musing.

The clue had to do with the puzzles theme. The theme for the puzzles I do are written just above them, making the clue fairly easy to figure out. But the answer bothered me a little. And, being bothered, I then bothered to look it up in the dictionary.

The theme was "All About Me", the clue was "Kind of person who fits this puzzle's theme."

The answer was "egoist."

That's a common word in the crossword puzzles I do and it bothered me. It always bothers me. I thought the word should be "egotist." But, as it turns out, there is a subtle difference between the two. An egotist, it appears, is worse than an egoist.

I didn't know that.

Did you?

And I am no longer sure which term applies to me.

I also learned an entirely new word: "curtesy." Look it up... surprising.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm Sure I Didn't Forget but I Don't Recall

My mind is failing me on a regular basis now. No, I am not slipping into dementia or developing Alzheimer's. At least I hope not. But I think of something interesting to write about and then forget what it was. This has been happening on a daily basis for some time now.

There is an old joke that says if you forget where you put your car keys, you don't have Alzheimer's but if you forget you own a car, well...

There was a supervisor I worked for back in 1980 that had a similar problem. He'd forget where he was going and why at about the moment he left the room. Our standard joke was that his memory was erased by walking through a metal framed door (all of the doors in the phone company had metal frames).

My mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her mid-sixties, embraced it. She would say, "I don't know why people worry about this disease, I get a brand new world every morning... sometimes more often."

I figure my memory banks are just full.

But I have no trouble remembering where I parked my car... or even that I own one.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Plug it in

Israeli Venture Meant to Serve Electric Cars Is Ending Its Run

In light of articles such as the above, I wonder about the chances of all-electric cars becoming a force to be reckoned with and about the wisdom of the entrepreneurs who back them.

We think of these electric powered cars as something new. They aren't, of course. This is just their revival.

In 1897, the first commercial EV application was established as a fleet of New York City taxis built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia.

But they failed to catch on. Mostly because the technology was not sufficiently advanced. They were cleaner and easier to drive than the internal combustion powered cars of their day. But, like today, they failed to deliver on range. They were fine, as today, for town cars and short commutes. And, like today, they were more expensive than the internal combustion vehicles. People want vehicles for many reasons but traveling long distances is one of the most important.

A problem for electric vehicles today is a lack of infrastructure and the limitations of batteries. They (batteries) do not charge as quickly as a gas tank can be refilled. And, today, there are few charging stations. The article about the Israeli company above tells us of a clever person who had an excellent idea: Change the batteries out and charge them at leisure. Again, an additional cost... the Israeli company charged its clients $350 a month. And only one company was willing to adapt their cars to the system.

California is considering requiring homes to be built with built-in charging stations. Not a bad idea but, of course, the home buyer will foot the bill... whether he or she has, or intends to buy, an all electric vehicle. The cost will likely be a pittance compared to the average cost of a house in California. There are rebate programs that help reduce the cost of a home charging station but, from what I gather, they cover around 2/3 of the actual cost. I saw a similar thing happen with solar water heating systems. You could get a rebate but the cost doubled by the time the rebates began.

And I still wonder what happens when the EV's grow in number and become a burden on the electric grid.  Because they will become a burden if they become popular. Which means we will need more electric plants and more power lines and some way to power those plants. Currently, about 50% of the electric plants are powered by coal.

Not pleasant thoughts, really.

Monday, May 27, 2013

In a Word...

As I was considering topics, the word "maundering" popped up in my mind. I thought I knew what it meant but wasn't sure so, as I often do with words, I looked it up. This is what I found:

verb (used without object)
1. to talk in a rambling, foolish, or meaningless way.
2. to move, go, or act in an aimless, confused manner: He maundered through life without a single ambition.

I learned something. I learned that my entire life could be summed up in one word. It is a good thing I revere simplicity, isn't it?

I wonder if one can be terse while they maunder?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What is Really Going on in D.C.?

We seem to be awash in political scandal. To be a bit more accurate, the administration seems to be awash in political scandal. Which, of course, means we who watch the news and read the news will be subjected to a constant drumbeat of facts and non-facts, players and non-players, and pundits pontificating on what it all means.

Let me list the current scandals:
1. The Benghazi attack of 9-11-2012
2. The Seizure of phone records for a number of journalists and staffers at AP (associated Press) plus a few at Foxnews.
3. IRS targeting conservative groups applying for 501(c) status, making unnecessary demands and delaying approval up to two years or more.

How important are these scandals? Very important... if you are directly impacted, and very important if you think the Constitution is the law of the land.

The administration is saying this is all political fluff foisted on the country by the GOP.

Really? If these things had not happened there would be no scandals and the GOP could not foist them on anyone.

Yesterday, the president wanted to take credit for revising rules on drone strikes. Admirable... until you realize that only the president can authorize these strikes that he wants to revise the rules for. In other words, he wants people to appreciate that he is creating new rules to restrain himself.  To me, that's quite a bit of chutzpah. He kills some Americans on foreign soil, gets criticized for it, and then creates some possibly non-binding rules which he promises to follow in the future.

At the same time, he is maintaining he knew nothing about the Benghazi attacks and had no hand in massaging facts or editing the talking points Susan Rice repeated on 5 Sunday political-oriented talk shows. He is also maintaining he knew nothing about the other political scandals and only learned about them when he saw them in the newspapers.

Where does that buck stop? Was Truman completely wrong about it?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Big Question

One of the big questions people seem to want an answer to is "Why are we here?" The answers seem to be myriad... one of them, "to help others" always prompted a question in my own mind: "Then why are others here?"

I have never found a satisfactory answer to that first question but I have accepted that I probably will not ever be able to answer it. I am comfortable just existing, it seems enough for me.

Most of my friends (all older than me, it seems) have given up trying to answer that question also. They seem to be happy just being on the sunny side of the sod. Of course, they aren't as philosophical as I am.  I ponder these deep questions on a regular basis and have for as long as I can remember.

The answers, I think, are unimportant. We cannot know if they are valid. But they can guide us, they can give us meaning for our lives. The questions, that is. So I think they are important.

I helped a friend in trouble a few years ago. He was in jail and needed $1000 bail. He had to wait a day so that I could go to the bank and get the money. It was a minor thing, a misdemeanor, and he seemed sincere as he told me he would not skip out. But, of course he did. I have not seen him since that day.
A recent search has located him... recently released after serving a year in jail elsewhere in the state for a felony DUI conviction. 

Still, I do not regret helping him that day. I wonder why?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adventures in Cable-ism

I made a change yesterday. A simple change that will save me all of $5 per month. It will take me a little over 16 months to break even on this change but it's worth it, I think.

What change was that, you ask? I purchased a cable modem to replace the one I rent from the the cable company. And then I had to install it. Simple process, one would think. Except nothing is that simple when dealing with a cable company. You see, they have to authorize it. That is, they have to recognize the modem and initialize it to work in their network. They do this through something called a MAC address. Each cable modem has a unique one.

I had a little problem, however, a "catch-22" of sorts. My landline uses the internet, Vonage provides my dialtone. So, while swapping cable modems, I would be without telephone service until the new cable modem is initialized by Comcast. To do this, I must call Comcast, give them the MAC address, and wait while they "find" it and initialize it. I have a back up phone, my cell phone (as most all of us do these days) but it is a "pay as you go" service. It costs me 25 cents a minute. It takes over 15 minutes just to navigate your way through the voice menu at Comcast. And then you may have to wait a half hour to actually talk to a human.

I called in hopes of setting up an appointment for today. After spending that 15 minutes wading through the voice menu, I was connected to a recording which told me no one was available (they were all "assisting other customers") but offered to call me back in "an hour to an hour 29 minutes." I chose that option... not really having much choice at all, I suppose.

A little over an hour later, I did receive a call from Comcast, a young woman who said her name was "Coco." She was not local, she was in Orlando. Which is fine. She asked if I wanted to make the swap today, now, as we spoke. I explained my situation to her and she was sympathetic (or seemed so anyway). She called me on my cell number when I was ready to swap out the modem. I had powered it up and it was in place and ready to go.

To my astonishment, everything went smoothly.

Some days, all is truly right with the world.

Thanks, Coco.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rolling the Little White Ball

My mother often told me that "life isn't fair." I accept that. It is also quite strange and full of unexpected twists and turns.

As most of you know, I play golf. It's not an obsession, I only play 3 times a week and only rarely go to a range to practice. This is below the norm for this retirement oriented Paradise. Some folks play every day. Some alternate practice and play. And some poor souls never play at all. I do not understand retirees who do not play golf, I thought taking up the game was mandatory.

In any event, I have been miserable for a few months because my game was suffering. I mean terribly. I even purchased a new club (a driver) to shake up the pattern and, hopefully, bring back the somewhat mediocre talent I thought I had. It didn't help. Neither did switching putters.

Switching putters is a common trick. Any dedicated golfer has several putters, most of which spend their days in the garage collecting dust and rust. They are purchased in hopes of bringing sanity and finesse to a game that needs both but mostly produces the antithesis of the former. Even the pros (maybe especially the pros) engage in this little bit of irrationality. Putting is merely the most obvious indicator of the quality of one's game. Regular putters of various design, long putters, belly putters, putters with large heads, putters with brass heads, face inserts of various materials, heel and toe weighting, how the shaft is shaped and where it connects to the putter head, and many more are all said to be "the answer" to the putting "problem."

And what is that problem? Just 50 percent of the game. You see, golf has something called "par" which is the number of strokes per round someone arbitrarily decided it should take you to complete 18 holes of golf. Half of these are putts. And the average golfer cannot putt to save his life. The average golfer starts shaking when faced with a putt 3 feet in length. Pros putt well. Pros putt magnificently. Pros sink almost every putt of 6 feet or less and an incredible percentage of those 10 feet or longer. If they miss a 20 foot putt, it still stops a foot or two from the hole.  Plus they do this on surfaces that more closely resemble felt stretched over slate than living grass that is mowed and watered daily.

But the other day, I managed to somehow sink both short and long putts on a regular basis. My record, for years, has been 4 birdies (one less than par) in a round. On Monday, I had 5.

There is a rule of thumb for the average golfers: A good round is always followed by a horrific one. But on the Friday before I had a good round (breaking 80 by 3 strokes) and did it again on Monday. And I didn't even buy a new putter.

I will now have another several months of poor play, obviously.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Watch the skies!

I find meteors and asteroids interesting. After all, a rather large one theoretically killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago (give or take a few) and one large one hitting the Earth would likely wipe out human life (and, possibly, all other life too).

It's a concern, to be sure. So much so that NASA is actively looking into how we might deflect any large space rocks that are likely to impact the planet.

On March 17th (in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, no doubt) a basketball sized space rock slammed into the moon. This rock was too small to cause a problem for Earth, of course, but it excited the propeller heads at NASA who have been monitoring meteor impacts with the moon for some 8 years now.

I guess it was important but it seems like a big fuss over a minor thing. It's important, they say, because it was the biggest impact they have observed to date. But consider this:

It created a crater all of 20 meters across. It wouldn't have likely created any crater on Earth because a meteor of that size would have more than likely burned up as it passed through the atmosphere.

But this one wouldn't...

Wake me when something truly important happens, will you?

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

There are many days where I teeter on the edge of the cliff abutting the abyss of insanity. And I wonder if I will go over the edge or manage to keep a grasp on reality.

I struggle with this feeling often. I note that my metaphor involves a cliff over an abyss. And wonder if that is merely a product of my acrophobia. In any case, the metaphor is apt.

I have wondered about my sanity since I was a youngster. I do not recall just when it began and so I assume it began at a very young age. I suspect it was around the time I realized that other people thought and I had no way of knowing what those thoughts were unless they told me. And then I would have to trust them to be telling the truth.

Trust is important to sanity, I think, and I have always had trust issues. I lack trust in others. I know why I lack trust. At least I think I do. But why isn't as important as the fact that I lack it.

I bring this up because the surviving Boston Marathon bomber (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) has been described a "normal" young man who had a number friends, went to his high school prom, and was seen as a nice young man.  Also because I was watching a "Frenemies" episode the other night in which a "nice young man" who was "like a member of the family" raped, murdered, and sodomized (post mortem, we learn) his friend of many years. Everyone, of course, was shocked when it turned out it was the "nice young man" because they had no idea what evil lurked in his brain. Here's the blurb:

Frenemies: Loyalty Turned Lethal
Deviant Mind
TV-14 CC
Crystal Todd and Ken Register become best friends. But one night Crystal is savagely raped and murdered. Ken is so upset he serves as a pallbearer and helps investigate. But everyone is shocked when the identity of her killer is revealed.

I am reminded that an awful lot of people liked Ted Bundy, too, and were shocked to learn he was a serial killer.

What really lurks in some people's minds?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Words Can Do Harm?

Something came to my attention the other day, something which brought a quote to mind. The quote was from "Becket" and is basically "oral tradition" and I think was spoken in the movie as "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" The actual statement by King Henry II of England may be,  "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such
shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

In any event, some loyal knights heard this and decide to act. They assassinated Thomas Becket, Bishop of Canterbury, in 1170 A.D.

A number of years ago, others recalled this quote, applied it to Bill O'Reilly's of Foxnews denunciations of abortion doctor George Tiller. You may recall that Dr. Tiller was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist named Scott Roeder. A number of liberal oriented websites castigated O'Reilly and invoked the metaphor of King Henry's quote.

But what brought this quote to my mind? It was an incident occurring at a private fund-raising event in which President Barack Obama complained about the power of one Rush Limbaugh.  It turns out that there have been many such complaints made about Limbaugh by the president:

Google search for "Obama on Limbaugh"

Let me give you the most recent example and the one which triggered the quote in my mind:

"I genuinely believe there are Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them. And as a consequence we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government."

Toss in the Benghazi issues, the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status, and the Justice Department's looking at the phone records of AP statffers and journalists and one begins to wonder, as we did in the 70's, about an "Imperial Presidency."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Send in the Drones

Drones are a big thing these days. Worries about their use (and the "collateral damage" resulting from it) and proliferation (both the police in various cities and the feds want them in the air) in the U.S.

We've all seen the sci-fi movies in which autonomous drones fly about zapping bad guys and heroes equally. We are already inundated with traffic cameras which catch the unsuspecting scofflaw (and the completely oblivious... as well as the innocent) in the act and a ticket is mailed to the offender's home. I was nicked by one of these last year. And a friend who drives a tour bus got ticketed recently... something called "short yellows" is allegedly involved.

On the whole, I find the news that the Navy is testing a drone (see video and read story) to be a Good Thing. Take-offs and landings on carriers is risky business, not to mention the fact that, once launched, the jet (and its pilot) is a prime target of the enemy. While our technology and pilot skills are improving constantly, making the life of a fighter pilot much safer, it is still a very dangerous endeavor. So, replacing pilots with guys at a computer screen and joystick is the future and the best way to go.

But where will we get our future astronauts from?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's All My Lawyer's Fault!

That's what OJ Simpson is saying these days...

I, of course, believe him. After all, lawyers are the scum of the earth, are they not? I have had my own dealings with lawyers with which I was less than happy. (see Attorney Daze) On the other hand, I have had occasion to rely on a lawyer or two many years ago (in my somewhat wayward youth) and found them quite useful and trustworthy. Of course, my not ending up in jail might have something to do with my old attitude toward those of the attorney persuasion. Plus my not having to pay them (thanks, Mom).

It seems that OJ's attorney told him it was okay to use a bit of force to get back his property (this was some memorabilia from his playing days) so long as he "didn't trespass." I guess OJ didn't realize that forcing his way into a hotel room along with a gun could be considered "trespass." As well as a form of kidnapping.

Darned lawyers! What's an acquitted murderer to do with poor legal advice such as that?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mayhem on Mother's Day

There is an old joke that "gun control" means hitting your target.

Well, gun control seems to be in short supply in New Orleans. A young man fired into a crowd at a Mother's Day parade there and injured 19 people. They mention, as if to emphasize it, that two of the people injured are children. I am not sure why that is important. It's not like he intentionally aimed for them... I suspect he had a target, or targets, in mind when he opened fire and it wasn't a child, or children. I would be, if I was in charge of the investigation, questioning all the victims over the age of 16 (gotta start somewhere). One of them is probably the target of the shooter's wrath. Perhaps that is how police got a name for the shooter.

Here's some additional information on the suspected shooter:

Police also said in a statement that Scott was previously arrested for Illegal Carrying of a Weapon, Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm, Resisting an Officer, Contraband to Jail, Illegal Carrying of a Weapon While in Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Possession of Heroin.

Seems like the laws in place didn't deter or control much.

I have said before that the only way to minimize the number of such incidents is to make possession of a firearm illegal and to confiscate all existing weapons. And that is next to impossible to do. First, we'd have to repeal the Second Amendment and, second, we'd have to find all the existing illegally owned firearms. If we could do the latter, we wouldn't need to do the former.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Testing Your Metal

Sometimes, for amusement, I pay attention to ads on the TV or radio. Especially the gold and silver ads. You see, gold is down. Quite a bit down. If you purchased gold back at its nadir in 1998, you'd have made a bundle. Unfortunately, you didn't, did you? Neither did I. Know why I didn't? Because gold is not all that great an investment. I watched it grow in value in the late 70's; peaking in 1980 and then dropping off... quickly. A funny thing happened just about the time that gold peaked back then... Silver followed.

Yesterday, I heard (for the umpteenth time, I think) about how the price of silver is "poised" to take off. It mentioned a couple of silver shortages, blaming these for the federal mint to temporarily stop minting some coins and for Apple to hold up production of one of its computers. This was followed by the claim that these shortages had hugely increased the demand for a silver coin (not an official coin, mind you, one they are having minted). In fact, it apparently increased the demand so much that they were now going to give purchasers of twenty of these coins an extra coin for free.

Think about that for a moment. The demand is so high that this company is going to give them away. What a great country!

Oh, by the way.... the price of silver is down.

And those silver shortages? The only ones reporting them are precious metal brokerages and the blogs that support them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

This was written some time ago, in early 2008, and posted three times before. I think I am establishing a tradition. Moms... we all have them, the vast majority of us love them.  Appreciate them while you can. Life is much too short not to.

My mother is slipping away. She's 89 and she hasn't been herself for many years. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her sixties and was put on a wonder drug, of sorts, called Aricept. It held the disease at bay to some extent for decades. Her short term memory went first, of course. But Mom, a clever woman, saw this as a benefit. Every day was a new world, a new life. She always had an optimist's view of life. Now I don't know what she sees or hears or knows. This disease took away the woman who raised me. After my father passed away, I took her into my home. We tried to care for as best we could but the time came when we could no longer see to her needs. She has been in the care of some nice people out at an assisted living facility for several years now.

I go to see her when I can... and when I think I can handle it. It's hard on me. I remember her as a vibrant, cheerful, witty woman who was always there when I needed her. She could always cheer me up when I was down or life seemed bleak. Now she can't. Now I have to do that on my own. And the worst is after I have been to visit her. I look for some sign of recognition in her eyes and never see it. I visit just before lunch because she seems the most animated at that time. I try to think of things she used to say to me to cheer me up and repeat them to her in the hopes they'll somehow break through that fog in her brain. She seems loved by the ladies who tend to her needs. they all speak of her with caring and joy. Some are as sad as I am to see her as she is now.

My mother had a way of getting a point across with humor. She would admonish me to be careful by warning me that "If you break your leg, don't come running to me." Or, "If you drown, I'll never speak to you again." As silly as these were, they stuck in my mind. Nothing seemed serious with her while you still knew how concerned she was. Her humor has failed her now. She doesn't smile much and, when she does, there's no way to know why.

It doesn't seem fair that this woman should finish out her life oblivious to most of the things around her. She read, she painted, she wrote stories, she even invented childrens' games. Oh, none were ever published or developed but that didn't matter. Her paintings were always flawed in some technical way; shadows fell the wrong way, perspective just a little off. They were nothing you'd expect to find in an art show but her family loved them. Her stories were simple and naive. Her games too easy. But you could see her slight off kilter view of the world in them.

Because I didn't get along with my siblings, I spent many of my years far from my parents. I rarely wrote or even called. It was never my way. I took after my father in that regard. In the last couple of decades, I tried to re-connect with my parents. I think I did re-establish some relationship to my father, just a little, in the few years before he passed away. My mother acted as if I was never far away. Now I don't know if she knows I exist, that she had a son, what her universe is like. I think that is what hurts the most... to not be a part of her life anymore.

Mom passed away on July 25th of 2008. Rest in peace, Mom, rest in peace. I miss you every day but you remain in my heart.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Well... Surprise, Surprise!

Amazingly, the mainstream media has "discovered" that there really is a scandal brewing over the Benghazi attacks of 9/11/2012. They've been pretty much ignoring this for months... only a few days ago parroting the White House line that this was all a Republican political attack on Obama.

Unfortunately, it isn't. It is a real scandal where 4 Americans died in an attack that could have possibly  been thwarted. But the White House was wrapped up in a re-election campaign and that took precedence over the real world and terror threats.

It appears the strategy now is to throw Hillary "under the bus." Headlines are already out there blaming the State Department for the "scrubbing" of the talking points that Susan Rice took on her tour of Sunday talk shows.

I don't think Obama is made of Teflon, though, and the questions will continue:

What did he know? And when did he know it?

And just where the heck was he that night anyway?

Many months back, I wrote about SecDef Panetta's claims about the attacks:

Sorry, Leon, I Don't Buy It

And a few months ago I wrote this:

But I Still Want to Know...

And I am nobody. I have just been waiting (and hoping) for someone important in the media to finally wake up.

And then there's this.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Humor is a Funny Thing

I get the random chuckles in my email from time to time... as I am sure you also do. Jokes and funny pictures (some real, some photo-shopped) sent by friends and acquaintances. Most of what I get is not suitable for a family-friendly blog and so I do not pass them on very often.

But this one was good and it only took a little cleaning up....

A woman in a supermarket is following a grandfather and his badly behaved 3 year-old grandson. It's obvious to her that he has his hands full with the child screaming for sweets in the sweet aisle, cookies in the cookie aisle; and for fruit, cereal and coke in the other aisles.
Meanwhile, Granddad is working his way around, saying in a controlled voice: "Easy William, we wont be long, easy, boy." Another outburst, and she hears the granddad calmly say: "It's okay, William just a couple more minutes and we'll be out of here. Hang in there, boy."
At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items out of the cart, and Granddad says again in a controlled voice: "William, William, relax mate, don't get upset. We'll be home in five minutes, stay cool, William."
Very impressed, the woman goes outside where the grandfather is loading his groceries and the boy into the car.
She said to the elderly gentleman: "It's none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don't know how you did it. That whole time, you kept your composure, and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be okay. William is very lucky to have you as his grandpa."
"Thanks," said the grandfather, "but I'm William .......this little [bleep]'s name is Kevin."

Faye, of course, knew how it would end early on. I was not so clever.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Random Musings for Thursday

Why I don't believe in the existence of UFOs:

You are telling me they traveled more than 10 light years just to abduct and probe a few individuals with histories of mental illness and to carve up some cows?

Why science sometimes mystifies me:

Language experts claim we all spoke a single language (calling it a "super language")  about 15 thousand years ago. "I", "we", and "to spit" seemed to have arrived to modern day intact.

Why technology is fascinating:

Google Glass intrigues me but I cannot afford a pair.

Stupid things governments do:

The FDA wants to put warning labels on tanning beds. I suppose that will deter those who think lizard skin is attractive. Ranks right up there with outlawing Big Gulp size sodas.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best Laid Plans?

NASA's Asteroid Mission Hopes to Prevent Large Scale Destruction

I have just a teeny weeny problem with the idea of bringing an asteroid close to earth. What if there's a little goof? What if, as happened once before, someone plans in metric and others use the US system? What if a miscalculation is made on the planned orbit of the asteroid around the moon?

Just sayin'

On the other hand.... at least someone is considering the possibilities.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Seems Such a Simple Concept But...

Can we talk about courage? The definition seems to have changed over the years. When I was young, it meant facing immediate danger to life or limb but pushing through anyway. The important thing was realizing the danger existed. Bravery under fire, we called it. The stuff of heroes.

Today, the word has lost its power for me. I write this because I just read where "Gabby" Giffords was awarded a "Profile in Courage" award.

The article says:
The award, handed out annually by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, is given to someone who demonstrated courage “without regard for the personal or professional consequences.”

Isn't Ms Giffords a Democrat? And a liberal?

So what did she risk in terms of personal or professional consequences? Perhaps it is for her courage in facing a long uphill rehabilitation regime? But that isn't what the article says it's for. It says it's for recommitting herself "to fighting for a more peaceful society free from hate and violence." 

Had she stopped doing that for some reason? 

Now, if she had started campaigning for lower taxes and more spending cuts... that would have been courageous on her part.

We talk about the courage of small children facing cancer. They aren't courageous, they have no choice but to face it and do what the doctors and his or her parents say to do. It's not like a sick child can run away.

Courage is, to me, more than just being put in a tough situation. It's seeking out that tough situation or it's going beyond just facing it. It's running into that burning building to save a child, an adult, or even just a pet. It's going toward the sound of gunfire.

It's not simply surviving.

Sorry, just my opinion.

Monday, May 6, 2013

(Mis)adventures in Computing

When we left on our trip, everything was almost fine. Except that the first contact we had with Frannie revealed her monitor had "died." No big deal, it had lived a long and useful life. It was the last surviving part of a system we had received as a gift over 7 years ago. I had replaced the motherboard and case, as well as the keyboard, some years back. Frannie had replaced the printer less than a year ago. She didn't actually need a printer as there was a networked printer available but she wanted one.

In any event, I spent the better part of three hours Saturday straightening out her computer after connecting the new monitor I had ordered online. The monitor had arrived in a timely fashion (4 days) and, in spite of the normally harsh treatment by the combination of UPS and the USPS, was in perfect shape... including the carton it came in. All the parts were there, too. I am impressed by this for some odd reason.

The problems I had to straighten out did not involve the monitor... which installed just fine. No, it was AVG Free (version 2013) which caused me much heartburn and Internet Explorer. Normally, I find AVG Free to be a superior product but something about the latest version has irritated me. I had attempted to update to that version on Frannie's computer just before I left but it didn't take. This happened on my own machine and it took a bit of work to get it completely cleaned out and re-installed properly. With Frannie's machine, I had to locate, download, and run a utility to remove the failed installation. Once that was done, a new installation of the program went fine... with two exceptions.

Somehow, I added two other programs without realizing it. These were "junk" programs that piggyback on the installation of a program you want. So, they had to be uninstalled. Upon uninstalling these, the program takes you to their websites and asks you why you  uninstalled each. You do not want to know what I told them beyond expressing my displeasure with programs that piggyback on installations and suck up resources.

The other little problem was the misbehavior of Internet Explorer 10. It seems that, regardless of how you exit that  program, it pops up a little dialog box which says that "Internet Explorer has stopped working." Of course it did! I exited the program, it's supposed to stop working. So, I installed Firefox and (after much investigation on how to do it) and uninstalled Internet Explorer.

The little eMachine now runs smoothly (though it could use more memory) again. Until the next time.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What's in a Name?

Every so often, I am reminded why I am so fortunate to live in the United States of America.  As I perused the headlines yesterday, I came across this item.

To make a long story short, read this:

In New Zealand, parents have to run by the government any name they want to bestow on their baby.

Among the names proscribed on a list published each year are:


I will grant that these names are not run of the mill and unlikely to be requested by prospective parents. And I am sure the New Zealand government has nothing but good intentions in requiring all baby names to be approved by them. After all, some people might unknowingly (or knowingly) inflict great psychic pain by giving their child some seemingly innocuous name. Like "Ima" if the last name is "Hogg." That's an old joke, an urban myth, if you will. I am sure none of you would do such a thing.

Still, I knew a Sandy Glenn. And a couple of Herberts... but no "Lucifer."


Friday, May 3, 2013

Mixed Messages

So, yesterday morning, I am looking at the headlines as Google News presents them and I see this series of headlines:
DETROIT | Thu May 2, 2013 7:39am EDT. DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as its North American business was better and its loss in Europe was smaller than Wall Street estimated.
GM earnings fall 11% on Europe losses - USA TodayUSA TODAY
GM net income falls 14 pct to $865 million in 1Q
See realtime coverage »

If I just read headlines, I would be confused... Did GM do well? Or poorly? Could GM's earnings be strong and still fall 14%?

I suppose the Wizards of Wall Street can make sense of this. Of course, reading the story from Reuters, I come to realize that, even though it faltered, GM beat the rather dismal expectations of someone
, or some ones (never named), on "Wall Street".

And, I read this phrase/sentence:

Excluding one-time items, GM earned 67 cents, topping the analysts' estimate of 54 cents, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 2.4 percent from last year to $36.9 billion, and was just above the Wall Street target of $36.6 billion.

It's no wonder so many people rely on "experts" for investment advice. And it's no wonder why I do not.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Journey Ends... Safely

We're back! Yes, it was a month long journey from the east to the west and back again. A couple of days in Biloxi, a one day visit to Faye's brother in Arizona, a few days in Las Vegas, and then a jaunt down to San Diego. My golf addiction, sadly, was not catered to on this trip. I only managed 27 holes in the entire month. Mostly due to bad weather but family activities and my illness interfered also.

On the way back, we ran through some bad weather also. We got through Houston just ahead of the flooding and hailstones. The rain slowed us down some but we were luckier than a couple of vehicles. One, a semi, jack-knifed a couple of hours ahead of us and a car managed to swerve off the road into the median and slammed into a tree not more than an hour or so ahead of us as we crossed into Mississippi.

I noticed something along the trip, truckers are not as polite as they once were. It used to be that truckers (big rig types) were some of the most courteous drivers on the interstates. But now, while there are still many courteous ones, the number of rude ones seems way up. But, I am happy to say, they are driving slower of late.  Instead of 5 MPH over the limit, they are driving at 5 MPH under. Unfortunately, more than a few tried to pass another semi on the upslope of a hill.

Patience in those situations is paramount.

But we are back, safe and sound and life is sweet when you get to sleep in your own bed.