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.

Nice Weather

It’s 10:20 pm and 78 degrees. There’s a breeze. It’s nice on my front porch for the first time in months.

Rain would be nice, but I wouldn’t want the flooding that coastal areas have experienced from Lee… regardless his status. After months of forecast highs in 105+ degree range, I am delighted to see nothing forecast above 96 for the next 9 days.

It’s September – cool weather is welcome!

Stray Thunderstorms And Damn It’s Hot

The weather forecast says a stray thunderstorm is possible here this evening. Stray? Okay, it’s a perfectly good adjective for the very high improbability that we will get any rain at all. It just struck me as funny.

The temperature reached 100 this afternoon with a ‘feels like’ of 111. The forecast high was 97. Tomorrow’s forecast high is 100… I hope the error is on the high side unlike today’s error.

And what does my husband decide to do during the hottest part of the day? Mow the lawn. While I’m not known for being a particularly over-concerned wife about most of his activities, I asked him to wait until tomorrow morning to do that. Neither of us are known for being fussy about how manicured our lawn looks, so I figured it didn’t matter much.

I think it rather surprised him that I was concerned enough to take him a glass of cold water while he was out there.

Elvis Has Left The Building

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.

We Survived The Interesting Weather

Shreveport and vicinity got some heavy heavy rain and high winds yesterday. We live on a hill on the western edge of Shreveport and, as far as I know, there was no damage in this area, just flooding of some roads.

The most dramatic damage photographically was the steeple atop the First United Methodist Church at the Head of Texas Street being blown off and falling on an occupied car. The driver has broken bones, but is in stable condition and is expected to recover completely.









Photos by Jerry Newman, Shreveport Times. More at link.

Our only scare was when my husband decided, during what we thought was a lull in the storm, to go feed the dogs.  The minute he stepped outside the door, thunder and lightning picked up right over our heads. I’m waiting at the back door for him to come back, trying to see him during the flashes of lightning… and wondering if he’s slipped on mud and fallen leaves or has just decided to spend the night in the doghouse instead of trying to make it back inside.

UPDATE: The man injured by the steeple is in worse shape than earlier reported, but still it is a miracle he survived.

Also, my husband spent the day with the Red Cross in south Caddo Parish surveying flooded homes and providing food to people who are “flooded” in. The homes in this area are accessible right now by boats only.

I fear the flooding in some areas will only get worse, as many rivers, streams, and creeks have not crested yet.

Good Morning Dear Reader!

Having just awakened from one of my infamous 15 hour naps, I find I have nothing important to say. I know that surprises you.

Get used to it, OK? Even the President has mostly nothing important to say. What I lack is his ability to say nothing eloquently.

What could possibly be said meaningfully or eloquently about poor Meghan McCain’s twitter castastrophe… and why is everyone so upset that she has boobs? I have boobs. Some people are boobs. Boobs are ubiquitous, right? Then… the feminist side of me jumps up screaming why are boobs associated with foolishness and ignorance, er… I mean dumb and blonde?

Is there an actual association between hair color and boob size? Or is there an association between women of average or better intelligence who happen to be blonde and have big boobs who have “made hay” of a perceived link?

As a big-boobed blonde of above average IQ who has given birth to a redhead, blonde, and brunette of above average IQ (and I won’t comment either on the boob size or gender…) I gotta ask… does penis size correlate with IQ? Is smaller smarter?

If I remember correctly, women with bigger boobs have more trouble breastfeeding than to do women with smaller ones. In some way this makes a lot of sense since lower primates and mammals do not develop big boobs. So is this smaller breast size and greater ability to breastfeed a sign of greater evolution or a sign of the productivity of lesser evolution?

At what point in human evolution did the appearance and associated utility of mammary development become  important? If only nourishment of the next generation were considered, small breasts with large nipples would be the norm.

Where did humans go ‘wrong’ in their preference? And did males have anything to do with it?

And what are we to do with the incredibly stupid JP in Tangipahoa Parish who will not marry “mixed” race couples?  It’s fairly obvious that this man opposes only black/white marriages. How would he decide on an Asian/Caucasian marriage or on an Native American/Caucasian marriage? An Hispanic/Caucasian marriage?

While we are given little information on his opinions of “mixed race” marriages not of the black/white type, I am not reluctant to “guess” at his opinion of other mixed “race” types.

And… once again, I am compelled to remember my sharing of photos of grandchildren with a black woman. Her grandson had blue eyes and blonde hair while my granddaughter had black hair, near black eyes and “much darker than white” skin.

It’s rather ironic that my caucasian genes might lower the IQ of my Asian granddaughter and that the caucasian genes might raise the IQ of the black woman’s grandson… theoretically, at least…

And while we’re thinking about racism and it’s incomprehensible negative effects, do not forget those who think that Barack Obama’s black heritage is of a higher intelligence than those whose black heritage is through slavery.

There is a cognitive dissonance thing going on among those who think Obama’s blackness is more “pure” because he is descended from an “actual” African and those who think his “African” descendance is less pure than an American African descendant.

Frankly, as “post-racialist” I think it matters not at all. He chooses the background that most helps his agenda. Unfortunately, his lack of understanding of history confuses him in identifying his agenda.


Or rubbing salt in a wound?

1902: With human comfort the last thing on his mind, a young mechanical engineer completes the schematic drawings for what will be the first successful air-conditioning system.

It was the effects of humidity on paper that he was trying to stabilize and I can assure that paper has been curling in my home the last few days. So has my hair.

Our new unit is on the way and hopefully installation will be completed by Monday evening. We’re not just getting the old one (aged 24) repaired, but installing an entirely new unit, including heat.

The heater part hasn’t worked right in 5 years or so, but that’s seldom a huge problem here.

An Unfortunate URL

As noted in the post below, we have no AC. The unit is about 24 years old and well… it’s likely beyond repair.

Plus it’s the middle of summer in the south and getting someone out to look at it and repair/replace it means waiting a while. I think we’re lucky we found someone to come look at ours tomorrow.

But then there’s the weekend… please send cool thoughts our way!

Scent Of A Newly Mown Lawn

We’ve had quite a bit of rain here in NW Louisiana for several weeks now. This means our lawns are lushly green. This afternoon, three of my neighbors mowed their lawns and the scent was marvelous.

It mingles with the scent of my star jasmine which is nearing the end of it’s yearly blooming. It will be replaced by the scent of my asian lilies soon — the buds are large now.

After that, sometime in July, the gardenia will start blooming.

My small front porch garden is doing well. This is where the star jasmine reigns supreme, but I also enjoy the blooms of the impatiens, the begonias, the hostas, and far too infrequently, the gerbera daisies. I just don’t have much luck with those.

For Mother’s Day, I was sent a small azalea, which I’m going to try in this small garden. I hope it works… it’s mostly a shade garden and it has some drainage problems which I’ve worked on correcting over the years.

This garden is also where I put my rocks. I love rocks. All the rocks in my front porch garden carry a special memory for me. Some are from my step-mother’s collection, some are from the home in Arizona where my granddaughter was born, some are from Alaska, one is from the clinic where my father is receiving radiation for his lung cancer… some are from my back yard.

Wherever I visit, I’m likely to ‘steal’ a rock.

Getting Windy Here

It’s windy enough that I expect we’ll be without power shortly, though it shouldn’t last too long. A lot of the crews from this area are in Texas or south Louisiana where problems are much worse, so I won’t complain.

The forecast is projecting 50 mph winds later this evening and tonight. Flooding is never a problem here as the house sits on a hill, but a tornado would be horrible. We are surrounding by trees. Tall ones. Oak and pine. 

I’m not really worried about anything other than having to clean up the yard, and that’s not much.

No Internet!

I’ve been internet free since Sunday morning. It’s been ugly. I was so bored, I mopped the kitchen floor and scrubbed the toilets. And folded all the clothes. And put them up. Those of you who know me, know just how bored I was to do all that!

Since I’m posting this, I guess you’ve figured out that I’ve got internet again. I’m not mad at Comcast this time for taking so long to get out here to fix it. It was a holiday weekend and a stormy one in Louisiana too.

Gustav didn’t turn out to be quite the terrible storm I was afraid it was. In Shreveport, we got lots of rain and a few downed limbs, brief electrical outages. Nothing really bad. At least not in this part of Shreveport. I’ll have to check The Times to see what happened elsewhere in the area.

I’m so glad to be back. I really felt isolated.

Jindal Vetoes Legislators’ Raise

I have to wonder if he didn’t wait so long just to embarrass some of the legislators. Shreveport professor Jeff Sadow separates the winners from the losers here.

Biggest winner: Naturally, the people of and their state of Louisiana.

Here’s the NYTimes article.

This thrills me because now I don’t have to help get nearly a million signatures for a recall petition.

In other Louisiana budget news, Jindal used his line item veto power to cut state funding of $500,000 from Shreveport’s Robison Film Center. According the Shreveport Times (longer quote than usual because this link will disappear in a week or so)

Included in the cuts was $500,000 in new funding for the Robinson Film Center. The nonprofit’s officials said they weren’t depending on it, yet its absence will reinforce the need to raise money in other ways.

In all honesty, why does Hollywood need the help of a nonprofit? I suggest they hit up a few of the millionaire (megamillionaires?) coming into town to make movies for a donation or two. Even more galling to me is the way this group was going to use the money

…the film center had intended to use the new money to build its endowment. Not getting the money will not affect its current programming or daily operations.

Good Grief.

Accountability, Not Exciting

It’s certainly needed, as Jeff Sadow points out.

Imagine if Hillary Clinton could have changed her vote for the Iraq war to ensure that it would happen, then could change her vote to be able to campaign that she voted against it.

It gives a whole new meaning to “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

Requiring complete consistency for politicians (or anyone else) is unreasonable. Anybody should be able to change their mind, but I expect a legislator to have thought about the matter up for vote and to vote honestly as MY representative, not as a representative of their future personal gains, such as re-election. I’d like to think they thought about carefully enough not to change their mind 8 hours (or less) later.

Red Beans, White Rice, and the Blues

Because it’s Monday. And I’m in Louisiana, though I’m not doing laundry today.

•2 cups dry small red beans
•16+ cups water
•4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled, reserve drippings
•1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or too taste)
•2 cloves garlic, minced fine
•1 bay leaf
•3 cups Trinity*
•3 medium carrots, minced
•More water
•2 teaspoons beef base
•2 pounds polish, link, or cajun sausage
•4 cups cooked white rice** (I prefer Jasmine Rice)

“Look & Pick” the beans, removing any trash, rocks, or severely discolored and deformed beans. Rinse beans well, changing water at least 3 times. This step reduces the flatulence-making property of beans. Cover with 8 cups of the water and let them soak overnight in refrigerator. The next day, remove any “floaters” and drain the water off the beans.

In a large heavy pot, cover the beans with 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low and simmer beans for at least one hour. In the meantime, sauté the Trinity*, garlic, and carrots in the reserved bacon drippings. Add the crumbled bacon, the Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, then add the entire seasoning mixture to the partially cooked beans.

Bring back to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer for several hours, adding water as necessary. The beans are done when they begin to “pop” or split and are tender all the way through. (For this step, I use a pressure cooker, even though it’s only 300 or so ft. above sea level here. I like for the carrots and trinity to “dissolve” and thicken the soup.)

High altitudes require using a pressure cooker. If you’re at 4000 ft, you can boil beans for a week and they won’t get done.

Check seasoning and adjust to taste, keeping in mind that the rice is somewhat bland. If the bean soup is not as thick as you like, smash some of the beans to a paste for thickening. Do not use a roux to thicken.

Slice and brown sausages, or grill them whole or in serving size pieces. Your taste, your choice. Serve the beans ladled over cooked white rice, the sausage on the side and a wedge of cornbread, all accompanied by some blues, of course.***

*Trinity – equal parts chopped celery, chopped green pepper, chopped onions. I prefer green bell peppers and red onions, and chop the inner tender celery leaves as well as the stalk.

**Rice – Cover 2 cups uncooked white rice with 4 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a rolling boil, cover, and simmer over lowest heat for 20 minutes, then “fluff” with fork. Do not stir rice during cooking or standing time.

•Substitute finely chopped pancetta, ham, or sausage for bacon
•Eliminate the bacon, slice & saute the sausage and vegetables, adding all to beans. •Skip the side serving of sausage. For a lower fat version, use less sausage.
•Substitute grilled pork chops or chicken for the side of sausage.
•Use pinto or black beans. You could also use kidney beans, I suppose. I don’t like kidney beans, but if you do… use them.
Now for the blues***

Click here to listen to (or download) a sampling of the music of Huddy Ledbetter, aka Leadbelly. Click here to hear more snippets of some of his songs and Woodie Guthrie’s performed by Little Richard, Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Sweet Honey in the Rock. That CD — Folkways: A Vision Shared – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie & Leadbelly — is one of my favorites.An updated recipe from the one I originally posted at Pajama Pundits.