Sep 27 2012

Sandra Tsing Loh Should Watch Bonanza

Tag: fiction,nostalgia,silliness,stupidityDonna B. @ 3:11 pm

Apparently she thinks her Mr. XYZQ ideal man is a new and original idea. Nope. Not only that, she’s a letter short.

The ideal man is Ben-Adam-Hoss-Little Joe-Hop Sing all rolled into one. It irritates me that everybody forgets Hop Sing. If he’s not included as part of the ideal man, then what is he — the wife? Of course, wife (or girlfriend) is rather a dangerous role to play in the Bonanza script.

Jun 22 2012

Meandering Microsoft Dissing and a Public Service Message

Perhaps with a touch of maundering.

You see, trying for a few days to make sense of Microsoft instructions on how to do something induces maundering. And drinking.

All I wanted to do was download Windows 7, 64 bit and install it on hardware far exceeding the minimum standards. Now don’t go thinking I got to that point by any reasonable or common sense method. If I’d been able to get the same computer to connect to the internet running Windows XP, I’d have gone no further. What I didn’t have laying around were XP service packs that are probably available somewhere on the internet, but why go to that much trouble when it probably was time to upgrade to the latest and greatest anyway. (I’m a late adopter… sometimes.)

So, I’m using an old laptop also running XP. It hadn’t been booted in well over a year, so there were numerous automatic updates immediately downloaded (156 of them, if I remember correctly). OK… I can do some housework while waiting for all that. After all, it’s been a while since I’ve been offline when there was also electricity in the house.

Housework. Bah. I’d rather read about it, than actually do it. I suddenly remember I’ve got another laptop here and a netbook too. And my phone. And a Kindle. Alas, out of the 8 power supplies I eventually found, none of them fit the other laptop. I settle on the netbook because it’s got a bigger screen than the phone. Except… it refuses to connect to my wireless. At that point, I’m irritated enough to actually do the dishes and clean the stove.

I still have no idea what, if anything, is wrong with my wireless router. My phone connects to it with no problem. But when the old laptop was through updating, it wouldn’t connect either. AHA, the phone! I call and reactivate the hotspot on it. That call to Verizon is very informative. I’d heard they were changing their plans and data was going to be limited, but hadn’t looked into the specifics. Being the pessimistic sort, I figured it was going to cost more for less and I’d worry about that when I had to. Well… it’s going to be cheaper and the hotspot isn’t going to cost me extra. (After June 28.)

While browsing for information and trying to decide whether I wanted the Home version or the Pro version of Windows 7, the router starts working again for the laptop (it was set to prefer that connection). I even use live chat to talk with a Microsoft representative during which the specs of both the computer I’ll be downloading the file to and the one I’ll be installing it on are discussed. I decide on Pro and 64 bit. So, I go to download it. No problem… so far.

Next step: copy those downloaded files to either a DVD, a flash drive, an SD card, or a portable hard drive. DVD is my first choice since the only flash drives and SD cards I have were old and had probably been abused and I was reluctant to go digging through all those power supplies to find the one for the portable hard drive. I get an error message when trying to copy the executable — something about it was probably downloaded to a read only folder. Back to Microsoft and live chat. That Microsoft representative told me that it was because the drivers for my DVD software were out of date and I should use a flash drive.

Ugh… do I want to go surfing for updated drivers? No. So, I decide that a new flash drive is reasonable and I decide to go buy one the next day. During this trip I also buy wine and a bottle of scotch, which turned out to be the best decision I made that day. I download the files directly to the new flash drive, but when I try to open them on the computer I want to install Win 7 on, I get the same message about “read only” folders.

I’m going to leave out a few chapters here, on how I tried to use the Microsoft Store’s download manager instead of the browser, and how I had the same results trying to copy the ISO file and the storm and power outage… but I’m sure you can figure out now why the scotch and wine were such good ideas.

Now this message lead me to believe I could change a folder’s attribute to not be “read only”. Silly me — actually, I should have known… perhaps remembered it from way back in time when I used to be paid for helping people solve computer problems — that this pretty much impossible and that it’s a feature, not a bug. When you ‘uncheck’ that ‘read only’ box, it applies only to the files in that folder, not the folder. I tried changing the folder attributes as instructed (by Microsoft) here. Didn’t work.

At this point, live chat at the Microsoft Store is offline, and I’ve unloaded all my problems on my daughter who is a kind person and listened sympathetically. She’s also helpful and sent me a link to this page at the Microsoft store which explains that Windows XP users will need to upgrade and download some additional software to be able to successfully download a usable file. I wonder why the live chat people didn’t tell me those things.

The first software that needs to be downloaded and installed on an XP computer is supposedly .net 2.0. Remember that I’d just installed all the Microsoft updates on the XP laptop? It seems that .net 2.0 is “incompatible” with the version now on my laptop which was .net 3.? I think. Does Microsoft never update these pages? Does Microsoft think I’m going to uninstall a newer version of their software to install an older version so that I can download and use the latest version? And possibly screw up the one relatively full-featured computer I have working?

Hell no.

I poured three fingers of scotch and started reminiscing and… shopping. After a few moments of fond memories of Commodore 64s and the wonders of 1200 baud modems, I revisited my initial choice of PC over Apple some 20+ years ago and decided it no longer mattered since Microsoft Windows adopted the icon over text which was my initial objection. I still prefer text. It’s explanatory (unless written by Microsoft). Icons aren’t.

Theoretically, I could afford a Mac. In reality, I have more important things on which to spend the few discretionary funds available to me. Plus, I have all this PC hardware littering the house as well as one working laptop even if laptop keyboards cause me physical pain. A USB keyboard could solve that problem. It would be downright silly to spend $1000 or more to get a Mac. Even spending half that much for a new PC wouldn’t solve the problem of having a computer (with possible better hardware) that works just fine except it needs a new operating system.

Now I know that it’s a cliche that it’s men who won’t ask for help or directions, but I realized many years ago that it’s quite normal for females to also carry the genes responsible for that sort of behavior. I bit the bullet, poured two more fingers of scotch, and searched for local computer repair services. If you live around here, I recommend Paul DePringe. His rates are so reasonable, they are unreasonable. For example, for $10 he picked up my computer, delivered it back to me the next day with my software installed, and did all the bending and reaching behind the desk to hook it up. In addition, he took four hard drives and transferred all the data to the newly functional computer.

Oh yeah — that Public Service Message: No matter what Microsoft representatives tell you, no matter what Microsoft writes on their support pages, DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO USE AN XP COMPUTER TO DOWNLOAD WINDOWS 7.

Apr 02 2012

But I Want It All

Tag: food & drink,grandchildren,my family,nostalgiaDonna B. @ 9:11 pm

All the favorites. All the traditions.

It’s hard when my immediate family is now so far apart. When we get together, we tend to try to do too much to make sure we at least touch on everyone’s favorite thing.

And try as we might, we can’t all seem to get together in one place ever anymore. Someone always can’t make it. A few are gone from us in all but spirit. In one sad way, they’ll be making more family get-togethers than before.

This Easter weekend, my daughters, one son-in-law, my sister, and of course my incredibly sweet, beautiful, handsome grandchildren are spending approximately 30 hours together at my father’s house.

My step-mom is not in the best of health right now, so us young ‘uns are doing the work: planning, shopping, cooking, etc.

Planning! How can we fit 50 years of holiday traditions into 30 hours? And that’s just the menu…

So far, we’ve eliminated fried shrimp, hash browns, and homemade bread… but  added mushrooms, steak, bearnaise sauce, and Lucky Charms. (I’m in charge of the Lucky Charms. I even volunteered for the job.)

Jul 21 2011

Remembering the Heat Wave of 1980

Tag: nostalgia,seasons,weatherDonna B. @ 9:54 pm

Oh yeah, it’s hot and we need rain. But it’s still not as bad as the summer of 1980:

In Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, high temperatures exceeded 100 °F (38 °C) a total of 69 times, including a record 42 consecutive days from June 23 to August 3. Dallas/Fort Worth reached an all-time high when the temperature hit 113 °F (45 °C) for three consecutive days on June 26-28. In all, the Dallas/Fort Worth area saw 29 days in which the previous record high temperature was either broken or tied. 

 That summer we were living in Dallas in an older house that had a tiny basement area containing the sump pump for the A/C. We were also broke. When the sump pump failed, our choices were don’t run the A/C or bail water until funds were available for repairs.

We bailed. For about two weeks, I think. The upside is that there was a lovely patch of green grass right outside the door.

Other than that, we didn’t suffer. We were very fortunate. Though money was tight, there was enough to stay in a house with A/C and the electricity to run it. And we were young enough and healthy enough to bail the water to keep it running.

According to this chart from NOAA (pdf), heat waves are the deadliest weather disaster. In the past 30 years, 18,458 U.S. deaths were attributed to heat waves, while the toll from hurricanes (the next deadliest weather event) is 2,901 (1833 of those from Hurricane Katrina).

Stay cool, y’hear? And keep an eye on the old folks and youngsters.

And laugh if you can.

Oct 26 2010

Haphazard Links And Whatnots

Tag: economics,nostalgia,wordsDonna B. @ 10:33 am

I caught a cold. Maybe it would be more accurate to say it caught me because I certainly wasn’t chasing it. It morphed into a raging bull of a sinus infection and is threatening bronchitis. So I finally called my doctor today. I’ve got drugs!

Had I not really wanted to go to S. Carolina in a few days to attend a beach wedding and get to see some of my favorite people, I might have suffered in silence for another week or so until this thing clears itself up. Well, not exactly in silence. Between the hacking cough, moans, groans, and complaints of why me, why now, and… well, suffering in silence is not my forte.

Speaking of silence… remember this sound? If you do, you are either an old (but connected) fart or you live in some totally boondocks area. Or you could be younger and remember this as a sort of lullaby because Momma was going online as soon as she could get you to bed!

Boondock is an interesting word. It’s derived from Tagalog bundok, meaning mountain and came into use in the U.S. after WWII. I’m thrilled to learn another Tagolog word that I can remember other than “utot“.  

Speaking of smelly — Glenn Beck really let one go when he said that evolution is being forced down our throats because he’s never seen a half-monkey, half person. A few of the more strident “lefty” sites have ridiculed him without really laying out why he is “not even wrong“. Elisheva Hannah Levin is explaining everything clearly in a series of posts. The first two are Glenn Beck’s Monkey Show: Overview and Glenn Beck’s Monkey Show: Not Even Wrong. Check Ragamuffin Studies for the third in the series.    

From not even wrong to just plain wrong… Amity Shlaes explains the rules of the game. Will politicians ever learn to play fair?

Heck, politicians have trouble playing in tune at all. They don’t know what the frequency is any more than did Dan Rather’s assailants.

Jul 01 2010

What A Novel Idea!

Tag: nostalgia,politicsDonna B. @ 8:33 pm

The Assistant Village Idiot overhears some original thinking. Fancy that.

Mar 04 2010

It’s All Beginning To Sound The Same

Tag: genealogy,music,nostalgiaDonna B. @ 5:36 pm

My Momma used to say that all the music I listened to sounded like just noise. Now I say to my kids that the music they listen to all sounds alike… which makes it similar to just noise.

What will my grandchildren hear? Chances are it will pretty close to the same thing I heard and their parents heard. Both the complaints and the music will likely have this sameness in common.

Though the video below is fairly constrained on an historical time scale, there’s bait in there for several decades. I have to admit, I’m not familiar with a lot of the artists… but doesn’t all the music sound familiar and familial?

Jan 11 2010

A 37 Year Relationship

Tag: nostalgia,transportationDonna B. @ 4:18 pm

In order to accomplish this, I had to rid myself of a 37 (almost 38) year relationship with Big Insurance. Since I was 19 years old, I’ve had auto insurance — the same policy — with State Farm in Texas.

They have, literally, seen me through thick and thin. Through four teen-aged drivers, through ::mumble mumble:: speeding tickets and at least one outright bizarre accident.

One of the silliest accidents I was ever in involved two people backing out of driveways directly across from each other at exactly the same time. Yes, we both looked and nothing was behind us or approaching us… until we approached each other. We each got out of our cars asking “Where did you come from???”

My agent even advised us not to buy motorcycle insurance with them. He said, we will insure them because you have had other policies with us for so long, but we don’t want to and it’s going to cost you a lot more. He recommended Geico, and we took his recommendation. That is true customer service.

If all my renewal credits and the relationship could have been transferred to Louisiana, I’d have stayed with State Farm in a heartbeat. But, unless I just got a quote from a clueless agent here, that was not to be. I couldn’t see paying more than double, when Geico offered, believe it or not, a slightly lower overall premium.

I hope the service is as good. Well, actually I hope we never need to test the service.

Jan 09 2010

Elvis Has Left The Building

Tag: History,music,nostalgia,Shreveport/LouisianaDonna B. @ 3:47 pm

Of course, I’m a day late in acknowledging what should have been Elvis’ 75th birthday.  I’m always late.

Jim at My Bossier has a short, sweet tribute that reminds me why I originally thought Elvis was a fine and talented performer. It’s a clip of two songs from 1954 sang on KWKH’s Louisiana Hayride show. (That’s the 2nd clip.)

The first clip is of the first time the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was used, from the same radio program a few years later.

Jan 05 2010

Blast From The Past

Tag: computers & internet,friends,my family,nostalgiaDonna B. @ 7:08 pm

This post – Yrs. faithfully - reminded me of the occasional odd electronic conversation I used to have with my youngest daughter in the ’90s. Remember the ’90s?

(Note: the memories he invoked have little to do with his essay other than the importance of the people doing the communicating. There’s much more there than what I reminisce about here.)

She used to send messages to me in my *office* via my printer from her bedroom. Yes, we had a home network facilitated by Cat5 cables (and Windows 95/98) strung from one end of the house to the other. These were not installed, they merely laid on the floor, also facilitating tripping and making vacuuming and mopping more fun. Not that I did a lot of vacuuming or mopping.

Believe it or not, we had 3 telephone lines into the house in those days. One was the primary voice number, it’s secondary line being the daughter’s line. The other was another “line 1″ for either fax or modem, mostly modem. A 56k modem which usually worked at 24k… because the lines were noisy. But we were wired, folks… wired.

My older daughter communicated through writing also, but not nearly as easily. There’s 6 1/2 years difference in their ages… and the ability to communicate a passing thought was much easier for the younger one than for the older, I think… because the younger one had the electronic advantage.

Now, through email and Facebook, we can all share our immediate thoughts much more easily and readily than ever before. Not to mention photos. I love digital photos!

Mr. Kinsell writes:

Properly used, the communications technology we now enjoy makes a whole lot of things easier and less time-consuming so that we can actually spend more time and energy on what’s really important.

Exactly. The key words there? “Properly used” and “what’s really important”.

Sep 15 2009

I’m Updated!

Tag: computers & internet,friends,nostalgiaDonna B. @ 9:39 pm

Ever since this blog began, WordPress has been begging me to update. Today, the update has been done, thanks to my friend Talina of Harvest of Daily Life.

While readers may not notice much difference, there’s a huge difference in the “backend” of the blog. Yeah, I had to look for the place to blog the upgrade.

I am grateful to not be nagged by WordPress to upgrade. This reduces stress which is always a good thing. Plus, I’m glad that the upgrade protects me against attacks that I may never understand.

Never will I be a cutting edge blogger. It just ain’t my style. But I appreciate being up to date. Now if I can only get Talina down here to fine tune my hardware…

Actually, that’s not required. I’m much more capable of fine-tuning my hardware than I am software. And that hurts me to admit. Plugging in a harddrive has always been somewhat easier than being a servant to software.

Whether it’s true or not, I blame my brain tumor for now being unable to do what I did when it was actually harder than it is today. Yes, at one point I was one of them Microsoft Certified people. I used to teach people how to use software and now I can’t figure it out on my own. I really hate this, but it is now true. That I couldn’t figure out how to update my own website (with what I know to be relative simple tools) irritates the dickens outta me.

They are only simple if you understand them and I now lack that ability.

So… thank you VERY much, Talina.

Jul 29 2009

Madmen… Me


I need a color job and some 1950s undergarments to make this real… but here I am:

Mar 10 2009

I’ve Been Living In The Real World

Since Saturday, I haven’t been online more than an hour total, and most of that was looking at proofs of my daughter’s latest family photo session. Realizing that I cannot afford 32 11 x14 prints is causing some stress!

Saturday, we had a family reunion on my mother’s side for the first time since 1994. My cousins have children and grandchildren I’d never met before. We realized we’d only been getting together for funerals for the last 15 years, and that we needed more. We had so much fun we’re planning another for next year.

All of my mother’s siblings have died. My father is the only one left of that generation in the family. We are fortunate that my oldest aunt started gathering genealogical information about the family when she was a teenager and kept at it until she was no longer able to travel. Her daughter went through one box (there are more) of her mother’s photos and distributed them to the oldest child of each sibling. What a wonderful gift that was!

My sister and I have taken the information my aunt gathered and put it into genealogy software and have continued the research. Everyone enjoyed looking at the wall chart my sister printed.

Little Sister is in the states for another week and a half, so I won’t be online much until after she goes home. I could be, but I have found that I really do not like using a laptop. My wrists are spoiled to my split keyboard and my eyes to my big monitors.

Family-wise, there’s a lot going on that’s not bloggable so I may be a bit distracted. Um, I mean more distracted. Possibly less intelligible too, if that’s possible.

Feb 25 2009

I Love Cars

Tag: nostalgiaDonna B. @ 1:47 am

I learned to drive at a fairly young age, taking my Mom’s car for a joyride when I was 12. I likely would NOT have been caught if I hadn’t stopped to replace the gas I used. Yeah, I scraped the post heading to the pump, but my Dad found another excuse for that. He just shrugged it off when the car started so easily the next morning (winter, Colorado). But it was the nosy attendant at the service station that was my downfall. Why, oh why did he have to mention to my Dad the next week that he was surprised I was old enough to be driving????

After I served my sentence for that foolishness and actually got a driver’s license, my adolescence was spent driving my Mom’s Lincoln or my Datsun station wagon with no radio or A/C.  It’s funny, considering my history, but when I was 16 my parents were far more likely to let me go somewhere if I was the driver instead of a passenger.

Just for fun, a list of the cars I’ve owned:

1969 Datsun station wagon (it actually belonged to my parents, but it was MY car!)

1972 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. A wedding present from my husband. I wrecked it (and it melted) about 3 months after we were married.

1971 Cadillac – shared with my husband. Yuck, no fun sharing a car!

1964 Mustang – my Dad bought it cheap for my little sister and I can’t remember why she wasn’t driving it. No A/C, standard transmission, and fun to drive. No longer sharing a vehicle!

1975 Mercury Monarch. Don’t laugh. It got me where I needed to go.

1976 Buick Lesabre. It was brown. It was boring, but also reliable.

1980 Buick Regal Turbo. My second go at horsepower.

1983 Chrysler New Yorker. A great car on snow and ice, low and heavy.

1988 Ford LTD – a great car in water, high and light.

1993 Ford Taurus SHO – see previous post.

1993 Cadillac – the V-6 hulkmobile

1998 Cadillac – mmm… Northstar!

These were *my* cars. My husband owned different vehicles, and some of the above were kept for a while instead of traded in. We have a 4 door 1966 Pontiac sitting in the back yard that I hope will someday be running again. I want to wear a polka-dotted shirtwaist dress and straw hat while I’m riding in it.

At my age, I think it’s appropriate to create a new category – nostalgia.