Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is the towel clean or dirty?

My wife put a clean towel on the rack in the bathroom that I use.

I took a shower. I soaped up good and then rinsed well. I used the towel to dry off. In my view, the towel was still clean since it had only been used to wipe off clean water after my shower.

Later, after working in the yard a bit, I washed my hands. "Yes, dear, with soap from the little pump container!" Then, I dried my hands on the same towel.

Question: Is the towel clean or dirty now?

My wife sees that the towel has been used, declares it dirty, and replaces it with another towel.

The one I used got dumped in the washer with other towels, a few of my smelly boxers and several snotty handkerchiefs. Water was added making a stew that I don't want to even contemplate.

When the towel emerged from the stew, my wife declared it clean once more and plopped it in the drier.

Question: Is the towel clean or dirty now?

This is just another illustration of the difference in men's and women's logic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lightning Flashed (Flash Fiction)

Lightning flashed. The air was charged with electricity and the hair on my arms and nape of the neck tingled.

It was 1967 in Toulouse, France. I was an American who didn't speak French. I'd met a former Holiday on Ice ice skater who spoke English. He had invited me to have a drink with him and his former girl friend and skating partner on Place Wilson.

He and I were sitting at the outside cafe enjoying our drinks and waiting for her, when I spotted this gorgeous blonde walking along. I'm a male, so I watched.

To my surprise, the blonde walked up to us, gave the French air kisses to my friend and then looked quizzically at me and offered her hand. "Hi. I'm Claudine." That's when lightning flashed.

Was it love at first sight or lust at first sight. I'm not sure.

My friend had said that she was pretty. She was -- and then some. Her French accented English was enchanting.

We had a nice chat and set a date to do it again the following week. At that meeting, she said that she was being laid off work and was losing her small studio apartment.

She had said that she was a good cook. I did some quick math. Groceries for two would be cheaper than my eating out all of the time. Since I had a 3-bedroom apartment, I offered her shelter in exchange for her cooking and cleaning.

It took a month of persistent begging before the lightning's electricity reached her and she agreed to be my girl friend. I brought her back to the states with me, we got married and we're still together after all these years.

But, it seems like only yesterday that the lightning flashed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

France seen through American's eyes

Back in 1967, I received a phone call from Control Data's corporate offices asking, "How would you like to go to France for a year?" My initial response was, "Last place on earth I want to go." Famous last words.

They had remembered that originally I had joined the company to be a Customer Engineer on a small computer system at a remote site on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Their needs had changed and I'd trained on their 6600 super computer and was working at a site in Albuquerque. CDC had gotten an export license for six CDC 6600 systems and needed customer engineers to maintain them while they hired and trained French nationals to do the job.

I knew that the Albuquerque site was overstaffed. And, they were offering me a nice per diem and a free apartment. So, despite having a typical American's impression of France (i.e., not good) and knowing no French, I accepted their offer. Within two weeks, I had flown to Minneapolis for orientation and a physical, stopped by Chicago for a passport, driven my Chevy from Albuquerque to Florida where I traded it for a VW Fastback to be picked up in Paris, and arrived in Paris wearing my normal dress western suit, cowboy hat and boots. (With a bull whip in my luggage.)

An American in Paris conjures up visuals of old movies and songs. For this American, it could best be explained in two words: culture shock.

The company's Vietnamese hostess met me at Orly airport and took me by taxi to a small hotel. She gave me instructions on how to take the Metro (the Paris subway) to get to the office the next day. I had not exchanged any money, the hotel staff didn't speak English and I had a bad case of jet lag, so I slept the rest of the day and night. The next morning, I did manage to get the hotel to exchange a dollar bill for five francs so I could use the Metro and my adventures began.

The Metro was clean and back then there were no gang tags anywhere. I arrived at the office only to find out that I'd been assigned to a site in Toulouse. The name didn't mean anything to me. Pick up your flight tickets from the receptionist? Huh? Oh, Toulouse is 400 miles to the south of Paris. The site is at Sud Aviation, where they are building the prototype of the Concorde. Hmmm, okay.

First off, a guy's got to eat. Although I picked up an English/French dictionary, looking up menu items was too time consuming, so after learning that "bouf" was beef, I used my own patented P&P method for ordering food. P&P? That stands for Point and Pray. I just always selected something that had bouf or steak in it and pointed to it on the menu. One time that I did use the dictionary, I got a very shocked look from the waiter. I wanted mustard for my steak. I tried every pronunciation I could think of and the waiter did not understand. So I whipped out the dictionary, looked up mustard, pointed to it and turned the book so the waiter could read it. Unfortunately, my finger slipped one entry when I turned the book around and it pointed to "mustache" instead.

Sud Aviation was an interesting place. The beer cooler - a fridge offering bottle beer for a franc (20 cents) on the honor system -- was located about 15 feet from our office. Yes, one could drink on the job. Although, the french looked at you rather strangely if you grabbed one before 8 o'clock in the morning. Lunch in the cafe was a four course sit down served meal with either beer or wine served, all for about 50 cents. The bathroom was coed. I didn't know that and on day one I was standing at the urinal and a pair of high heels went clickity clack behind me. Surprised doesn't cover my reaction.

There were a couple of stalls with doors and sit down toilets at the far end of the restroom for the ladies to use. The guys had stalls with a hole in the floor. Lesson: Don't stand on the footpads for that hole when you pull the chain to flush.

Oh, and be careful with your pants -- one of my coworkers lost his wallet out of his pants and it fell into the hole and I found him using Kimwipes to clean it and its contents. "How far down did it fall," I asked. "You don't want to know," was his answer.

In France, everyone shakes hands or gives air kisses on the first time to meet of a morning and also when you were leaving for the day. I refused to shake my coworker's hand for three days after that instance.

The shaking hands ritual was difficult for me. When you have to shake hands with 25 people every morning, I found that I lost track with whom I had already shook hands with. And, when you offer to do it for a second time, the French think you are nuts. As in: crazy American with no memory.

In Toulouse, I met a former professional ice skater at the bowling alley. He spoke English. We became friends. He introduced me to his former girl friend and ice skating partner. She moved in and we've been together now for 44 years or so.

Thanks to Claudine, I found out what France really was like. I got to visit her relatives in Paris that lived in very old buildings and meet Claire Sauntier, another relative, who was the first woman senator in France and lived in a very nice apartment. (On one of our visits back to France, she even took us for a private tour of the Senate.)

I learned to love seafood. I learned some French culture, like always saying, "Bon jour, madame" when entering a shop. And, a simple "Merci" goes a long way at almost any time. I learned to drive like a wild Frenchman, navigating roundabouts with reckless abandon -- even the circle around at Arc de Triump in Paris.

I learned that the French as super nice people and will open their arms, hearts and homes to you if you are polite. I learned that Paris french is like New York english - it is spoken fast and harshly. While in Toulouse, it is spoken slower, like a southern drawl. I learned that France is a beautiful country.

Everyone should visit France at least once in their lifetime.

Special Note: A lot has changed in France since I spent a year there. They have speed limits that are enforced with automatic cameras. They are particularly hard on drunk drivers now. In fact, sometime this summer a new law goes into effect that it is mandatory for every car to have a breath analyzer on board for drivers to use to test if they can legally operate the car. Most Americans are afraid to drive in France (in all of Europe, in fact), so it may not be a problem for you. Public transportation is available nearly everywhere, so it probably won't affect you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NSFW Corp's New Web Weekly

Paul Carr, who we took to the woodshed last month during the A to Z Challenge for his too-often use of the F-bomb, has released his NSFW Corp's new web weekly in beta.

NSFW is, of couse, the acronym for Not Safe For Work and we're betting that most work organizations have it on their web blacklist so that you won't be able to enjoy and laugh on the company's dime.

I signed up for the beta early on. Back then it was supposed to be apps for the iPad, Kindles and other tablets. They switched gears and made it regular HTML5 web pages -- a good decision in my humble opinion. This way, they won't have to tweak each application on the various devices as they change.

What is it? Well, it certainly is one of a kind. It will be a weekly with a cost of $26 a year. It is sort of a Mad magazine with words, not pictures (although the graphics are much in the twisted style of Mad). They claim it will be a news magazine with humor.

There is a waiting list of beta testers. Those that get chosen for beta access are being sponsored by various companies. Our sponsor is the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. Which is where Carr has chosen to house the NSFW team. So special kudos to the Downtown Project for spending $5 for me to enjoy the site for the next six months.

(Yes, I am worth it! Sure would like to see them also sponsor me for a free round trip to Vegas and free lodging in downtown Las Vegas. Hey, a guy can dream, right?)

My favorite among the first articles was the one on best practices for the Secret Service. It had this great laugh out bullet:

Agents are encouraged to follow the example of America's most famously sober former President. Instead of having that second beer, why not pour yourself a mineral water and illegally invade Iraq?

They are also doing a daily audio podcast and are transcribing them (which is a must for this poor hapless hearing impaired comic). The two I read were wickedly funny.

NSFW will no doubt morph over time. Being funny about the news of the day is difficult over the long haul. Paul seems to have recruited a good stable of writers. (But they get no individual bylines.) They are off to a good start. Here's wishing Paul and his startup team good luck.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

French Voting and Cars

What a car!

During the A to Z Challenge, we did a couple of entries about cars. One on cars we've owned and another on cars we'd like to have. Somehow, this car missed both lists.

My wife, Claudine, is a native of France. She was naturalized as a US citizen in 2000. That means she has dual citizenship and this year she gets to vote in two presidential elections -- in the US and in France.

She is registered with the French consul in Miami and they keep her on their voting rolls. Those outside the country vote on the day before the French elections. Thus, on Saturday, we headed across the causeway to Tampa for her to vote. (There are 4 polling places in Florida - Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa.)

The voting place was Argosy University. They have a nice one-building campus just off the interstate in west Tampa on Howard Ave. It is a historic cigar factory building that has been restored very nicely.

We had been there two weeks ago so she could vote in the first presidential election where the cut the field from the ten running to just the top two. This week was the runoff between current president Sarkosy and his opponent Hollande. They use paper ballots that you stuff into tiny envelopes. So no one will know who you are voting for, you pick up paper from each of the two stacks for Sarkosy and Hollande, then put the one you're voting for in the envelop and discard the other in the trash bin. Claudine sneaked a look in the trash as she exited and she said there were more Hollande ballots in the trash than Sarkosy ballots. Now that is a real scientific exit poll result, eh?

It should be noted that everyone seems to think that Hollande will win -- although it will be close. Maybe those that live outside of France will decide the race? As we write this, they are still casting ballots in France, so it will be hours before the winner is apparent.

The highlight of the trip was when we pulled into the Argosy parking lot and discovered the restored antique Citroen. A real classic. We think it is about a 1954 model (we forgot to ask). If you know the year, add it to the comments.

I'm going to add that to my car wish list.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pictures and other stuff

Just a little catchup this morning...

Didn't get a lot of traction on yesterday's post about Doc Searls e-book pricing. Guess that means that the publishers can raise their e-book prices up to $30 and no one will complain. (But I'm still refusing to buy anything Kindle edition over $9.99 personally.)

Donna McNichol has a great post today with links to three sites where you can find free images.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doc Serls New Book's Irony

I love Doc Searls and David Weinberger, two of the co-authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Both are fellows at Harvard. I follow their blogs and their tweets and buy their books. Except this time.

Doc's newest book, The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge has just been released. It's a book he has been working on diligently while at Harvard evangelizing about VRM -- Vendor Relationship Management. Harvard Business Review Press is the publisher.

VRM's premise is that the customer will take control of the supply/demand equation and will drive supply far more directly, efficiently, and compellingly than ever before.

Coincidentally, made the book available in hardcover and Kindle editions a couple of weeks early and within a couple of days of when the federal government brought suit against Apple and six major publishers for collusion in pricing of e-book editions. The Apple action resulted in Amazon having to raise their Kindle e-book prices from a $9.99 price-point to whatever the publisher set -- which has been for the past two years something close to $15. Is there a single Kindle owner that likes the new pricing? Obviously, no.

Harvard Business Review Press set the Kindle e-book price at $14.85 while currently Amazon is listing a $15.84 price for the hard cover. That price disparity does not make sense.

An e-book is just bits that can be stored and distributed for a couple of pennies, at most.

A hardcover book requires paper, ink, printing, bindings, hard cover, packing, shipment to Amazon, storage on the shelf, picking and packing by Amazon and delivery by UPS. There is no way that that can happen for $0.99.

Typically, if the book is a must have and the hardcover price is only a buck more, I'll opt for the hardcover and then when I'm finished reading it, I will give it to a friend or the library so that others can enjoy it. This means that the author, the publisher and Amazon lose out on a potential sale.

This time, I am opting to not purchase either. Why? I want to draw attention to Doc's premise. I want to be the customer that says enough of the greed regarding pricing of e-books. And, the ammunition that I am using is right there on the Amazon page for The Intention Economy where a major bullet says:

Soon consumers will be able to... tell whole markets what they want, how they want it, where and when they should be able to get it, and how much it should cost

Doc, I want to buy the Kindle edition from Amazon for $9.99. Would you please inform your publisher?

It would be exceedingly ironic if they don't listen after funding your research and publishing the book. If they believe in your premise, they should be leading a movement of listening to the customer versus following the greedy collusion crowd. (And, I'm betting you'd sell a lot more e-books!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A look back at April's A to Z

It is May. That means the A to Z Challenge for April is done. Here's a recap.

Froggi Donna McNichol challenged me to enter the A to Z Challenge for April. I accepted. Although, at times during the month I was ready to shoot Donna.

It was an interesting challenge. A letter a day keeping the creative juices at bay - or something.

We managed to natter a bit about Apple, BASIC, gadgets and the F-bomb. We disclosed what cars we have owned and what cars we would like to own. And more. Much more. Twenty-six letters worth.

We were amazed at Donna's fiction on her My Write Spot blog as she typed her way into and out of all kinds of situations. Go peruse her entries.

We found some real gems among the other A to Z bloggers. MOV, in particular, managed to tickle my funny bone every day. Love the way she modified the challenge's icon graphic with "I survived" on the last day, with a caption that read "Winner: Most Exhausted Writer Award." (I think I got an honorable mention in that category!)

Many thanks to all of the people who dropped by and left comments. They were appreciated.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zingers

The letter "Z" means it is the end of the A to Z Challenge. Hope you've enjoyed the ride.

When speaking, "Always leave 'em laughing!" is a good motto. I thought it also would be a good way to wind up our month of A to Z Challenge.

My warped sense of humor and my curmudgeon reputation means that I like zingers, those often insulting throw-away one liners. Enjoy these (or not).

  • He says he has a mind of his own. He's welcome to it-- who else would want it?
  • He has a one-track mind, and the traffic on it is very light.
  • He paid $500 to have his family tree searched, and found out he was the sap.
  • His neck reminds you of a typewriter -- Underwood.
  • A traffic judge asked him, "Have you ever been up before me?" And he said, "I don't know, what time do you get up?"
  • He called it quits when his fourth child was born, because he read that every fifth child born is Chinese!
  • He's so dumb, he thinks the St. Louis Cardinals are appointed by the Pope.
  • He jumped off the bus backwards when he heard someone say, "Let's grab his seat when he gets off."
  • He believes in a balanced diet -- a beer in each hand.
  • In Las Vegas, he even loses money on the stamp machines.
  • He saved for years to buy an unbreakable, waterproof, shockproof watch - and lost it.
  • He always takes his salary to the bank. It's too small to go by itself.

Oh, my ears! I can hear the groans from here, despite being hearing impaired.

Luckily, this is ZZZZeee end of the A to Z for this year.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yes, Dear

The A to Z Challenge is drawing to a close.

When in doubt, two words may bale you out: "Yes, Dear!"

She says, "Dinner will be ready at 6."

You say, "Yes, Dear. I'll quit typing on the computer and will be there."

She says, "We're invited to mom's for Sunday dinner."

You say, "Yes, Dear." You don't say, "Oh, God, do we have to?"

She says, "I am not going to the mall with you wearing your old paint splattered shorts and that horrible 'Code Naked' t-shirt."

You say, "Yes, Dear. I will change before we go."

She says, "Can you open this jar of pickles for me?"

You say, "Yes, Dear."

She says, "Can you stop on your way to work and put $100 into my checking account?"

You say, "Yes, Dear."

There are, of course some exceptions to the Yes, Dear mantra.

She says, "I have a headache."

You say, "Sorry, dear, I didn't hear what you said."

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for eX

Doing a tricky letter this time for the A to Z Challenge.

This is dedicated to all of you with ex's.

This will be short since my grandpa taught me that if you don't have anything good to say about someone, don't say anything at all.

Enough said.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wheels

The end of the A to Z Challenge is in sight!

I have been writing the posts for the Challenge ahead of time. I left W and Y for last. Last night, I was in Tampa for an event and during a smoke break, I jotted down "W is for Wheels" as a topic for "W". Little did I know that it might be on omen -- my 1995 Dodge Custom van with 139K miles on it started running very rough on the way back across the long causeway and I barely made it home. I may need new wheels.

If (that is a very big word for only having two letters!) money was no object, I would definitely become a car enthusiast -- not of the magnitude of Leno, but I sure would like a large garage with the following in it.

  • Mercedes SLK 350 hard top convertible. A fun car that the wife can drive.
  • Hyundai Equus. Great luxury car for the family auto.
  • Dodge Ram pickup truck. Have to have something for hauling once in a while.
  • Mini Cooper S convertible. A DC plaything.
  • Classic bug eyed Sprite or Sunbeam Alpine
  • Class A RV -- about a 38 footer
  • Cabin Cruiser -- okay, the only wheel it has is one to steer the boat, but it does have a wheel, right?

What set of wheels would you like to see in your garage?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Varoom

V-day for the A to Z Challenge.

Outside of the centerfold in Playboy, nothing makes a male's heart pound faster than something that goes Varoooooom!

Add a motor to anything with wheels and almost every time my eyes will light up and I'll utter, "Ohhh, I like that! I want one!"

Even the contraption above looks like it would be fun to ride around town.

I've owned and driven my share of motorized vehicles. Can you top this list of some of my more unusual varoomers?

  • A Cushman motorscooter (when I was in high school)
  • An old English Ford and a 1960 English Ford Anglia
  • A 1963 Sunbeam Alpine sports car
  • A 1963 Pontiac convertible with a big police V8 in it
  • Farmall, John Deere and Allison tractors
  • Caterpillar bulldozer
  • Snowmobiles
  • Boats with big outboards
  • Riding lawnmowers (even though I had a very small lot to mow)
  • Motorcycles - big and small (like a Honda Trail 90)
  • A 1963 VW bus (where I used a brick on the accelerator for cruise control)
  • A 1995 Dodge Custom Van (which I still own and drive)
  • Owned a late model stock car (but never drove it in a race)
  • Gocarts (love zipping around with my butt only 2 inches off the ground)

I've seen a bright yellow motorcycle with yellow enclosed sidecar a few times in the neighborhood recently. Awesome! Even the motorized bicycle I see once in a while looks like it would be a blast to ride. At the car show in January, I fell in love with the Hyundai Equus. What a car!

I really only need one thing: to win the Lotto. Then I can buy a place with a ten-car garage and fill it! Come back tomorrow for a list of what I'd like to have.

What kind of things that goes Varooooom have you owned?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Umbrellas

The end of the A to Z Challenge is in sight!

Umbrellas are a curse on modern man!

  • They are never with you when you need one
  • They are not wind friendly
  • They pinch your fingers when you attempt to open them
  • They pinch your fingers when you attempt to close them
  • They keep only the top of you semi-dry
  • Even large ones aren't big enough for two people to share without one person getting soaked
  • They drip on the floor when you bring them inside
  • Companies insist on putting their ads on them and then sell them to you for you to walk around advertising for free with them

Last, but not least, umbrellas are misnamed. My youngest daughter called them what they are: "rainbrellas".

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tents

Time Ticking with T for the A to Z Challenge.

Tents. No, I'm not talking about dresses in large size or bloomers. (As a kid, I teased my grandma when she hung her bloomers on the clothes line by calling them tents. I was a curmudgeon at a very early age.)

When I was in France, I bought a big, bright blue tent during the May 1968 riots. It was a "just in case I have to get out of town" purchase. We didn't have to leave because of the riots, but we used that tent a lot.

Why is it that whenever you buy a new tent and go camping, the first time you use it, you arrive at the campground after dark? And struggle to get the damn thing put up. I guess it does serve the purpose of providing slap stick comedy for the other campers.

The tent had poles for the awning and poles for the skeleton and poles for the poles. After a few times, I could put it up in my sleep (aided by color coded tape that I'd added), but the first few times were traumatic.

In France, we camped next to the Med and in Biarritz next to the Atlantic for Bastille Day. That one was a potential disaster, in that a wind storm came up while we were away watching fireworks. Luckily, other campers took pity on us and anchored the tent with cement blocks so it wouldn't blow away.

We brought the tent back to the states and used it in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia and Florida. Even watched a couple of Shuttle launches from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. It lasted for years.

Tent camping was fun. But, we were younger then!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Serenity

We slide along the slippery slope to the letter "S" for the A to Z Challenge.

Serenity? Such a nice concept, sure wish I had some.

Everyone has heard the Serenity Prayer. I'd like to take this post to explain it to you. First, here it is:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Simple, eh?

Now, here it is with DC's explanation in parens...

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
(You cannot change other people, places or things!)

The courage to change the things I can,
(You can only change yourself!)

And the wisdom to know the difference.
(DC jabbing finger into your chest: Damnit, I just gave you the wisdom!)

Are you serene yet?

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rattlers

Onward, A to Z Challenge, Ho!

Florida is home to lots of critters big and small including black bears, deer, gators, wild hogs, raccoons, panthers, bobcats, armadillos and more.

Florida is home to some 46 kinds of snakes (not sure if that includes the pythons that are now inhabiting the Everglades), of which six are poisonous.

In the six decades that we've called Florida home, I've never come across the timber rattler or the copperhead since they are normally only found in north Florida. I have come up close and personal with the other four: the eastern diamondback, the pygmy rattler, the water moccasin and the coral snake.

When my parents moved from Indiana to Tampa, Florida in 1953, they lived south of Gandy Blvd. Our mailing address was Rattlesnake, FL. The post office was a block east of Westshore on Gandy. There used to be a rattlesnake cannery in that area. And, there definitely was plenty of rattlers in the area to can. A year later, Tampa annexed the area and our mailing address was Rattlesnake Station and then a short time later, we got zip codes.

When they were clearing the scrub to build the large subdivision between us and Port Tampa, I was killing four or five rattlesnakes a week in our yard and doorstep. Overrun, indeed. You literally couldn't step outside without checking that it was safe to do so. About the same time, a couple moved into the rental house next door one day and moved out the next. We found out that when they opened the cabinet doors under the sink, they found a 6-foot rattlesnake looking back at them.

A little while later, my folks owned the last of the tourist trap type shell shops on Gandy Blvd. Complete with a snake pit out front. We'd pay $1 a foot for live rattlers to dump into the pit. One time, a guy brought a big glass jar with about a dozen little 4 inch baby rattlers, I paid him a couple of bucks for all of them and dumped them in the pit. The next day, I looked and couldn't find any babies at all. Hmmmm. Ah ha, I had forgotten to put the plug in the half inch water drain hole and when I looked, sure enough, I could see where the little critters had wiggled out of the pit. We found rattlesnakes in the darnedest places around the gift shop for months after that.

In Melbourne, my wife got up one night to get a drink of water. She saw a ribbon on the dining room rug as she went to the kitchen. On the way back to bed, the ribbon moved and darted under the buffet. So there is D.C. at 2 a.m. on his hands and knees looking with a flashlight under the buffet. And finds a 2-foot pygmy rattlesnake angrily looking back. Armed with a yardstick and a large wastebasket, the rattler was captured, taken outside and killed. Our youngest daughter had just moved out and a couple days later we were moving stuff around in her old room and found the rattler's skin behind her dresser. So the critter had been in the house for a while without us knowing. Yes, that is a bit scary.

Rattlers don't really worry me. They are more scared of you that you are of them normally. So they'll scurry off if given a chance. Water moccasins, on the other hand, are aggressive. I threw a rock at a moccasin one day as it was swimming in a lake. That darn thing came after me and made me retreat to my car!

Florida is built up and the snakes and other critters have lost a lot of their habitat, so they are not as many as there used to be. It does behoove you to be aware and to understand that even if there are fewer now, they still do exist. And, no doubt, you'll come across one when you least expect it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quid

A Quirky subject for Q in the A to Z Challenge.

I love to read and once in a while will pick up something that has an English setting. You know, UK as for United Kingdom.

But I am always puzzled by their slang term of "Quid" for money.

Way back in 1968, I spent three weeks in London. I was supposed to be relocating there for six months after my year's stay in Toulouse, France. When the company realized that I would have a rather large bonus coming due if I spent more than 18 months in Europe, they sent me back to the states rapidly. *sigh*

London felt more foreign to me than France did. I don't speak French, but I found out that I couldn't understand the English taxi drivers with their cockney accents any better than I could French drivers with their french accents.

And, I was driving a French rental car on the wrong side of the road in London. When walking, I looked the wrong way for traffic. Dangerous place.

While there, I didn't learn what the hell a quid was though.

I am somewhat familiar with quid pro quo, a Latin phrase meaning this for that, but that doesn't relate to money.

When all else fails, go to wikipedia, right?

Finally, I now know that a quid is slang for a pound sterling. At the current exchange rate a quid equals $1.59.

Wait! There's more. Wikipedia says that a quid is also Irish slang for the Euro or the Irish punt (what ever the hell that is!).

Also, a quid is a piece of chewing tobacco. Never heard of that. I thought it was a "chaw" of tobaccy. Makes you wonder what the English term for spit is, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pig

A Perfectly Pugnacious P as we march onward with the A to Z Challenge.

Pigs are cute, in a chubby oinky way. They are also good eating -- pork chops and bacon are tops on my food list.

Swine, as the family is called, have many names. Farmers will recognize all of these, but you may not:

  • Pigs
  • Hogs (another generic name for pigs)
  • Piglette (little pigs)
  • Sow (mother pig)
  • Boar (father pig)
  • Gilt (female pig)
  • Barrow (male pig that's been castrated)
I raised two Hampshire barrows for 4-H one year.

I showed the hogs at the Fayette County fair in Connersville, Indiana in August. I was disappointed that my folks wouldn't let me stay overnight in the fair's hog barn like many of the other 12 year olds. My grandfather promised to be there when I showed my hogs. I arrived at 6 a.m. that day and found him already brushing my hogs for me! Amazing. He had gotten up, milked 8 cows, fed the hogs, fed the chickens, had breakfast, got cleaned up and drove 15 miles to the fairgrounds all before 6 a.m.

I could only show one of the two hogs in my 4-H class. Which one to pick? The breeder that I bought the pigs off of, pointed to one; my grandfather and I favored the other. I naturally went with my grandfather's pick and took second in my class.

To settle the which one is better question, I entered both of them in the large open class the next day, going up against all of the big hog breeders. I showed the 4-H second place one and my grandfather showed the other one. Mine took 5th in open class and the other one didn't place. So our selection decision was good.

However, it is a wonder that I got a ribbon in open class. While showing the hog, he got away from me and starting fighting with another entry. That pig's owner whacked my pig on the snout with his show cane and my pig spun around and ran right between my legs. As a kid, I was a runt. Picture a 220 pound pig running between my short legs. Now, picture me stuck on the back of the pig, riding backwards at a dead run for a complete circuit of the show ring. I finally managed to fall off sideways and regain control of the pig and placed 5th. Whew!

I don't know if it is good or bad that they didn't have video tape back in those days.

This isn't my pig, but it is a Hampshire barrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Obnoxious

Oh, Oh time during the A to Z Challenge.

It is with some trepidation that I broach the subject and word of "obnoxious."

I haven't used the word in a written form publicly in over 40 years. I did back in 1969 and I got raked over the coals for the effort. I'll share my experience so you can learn from it and have a good laugh at my expense probably.

While I was in training at Digital Equipment (DEC) in Maynard, MA, I pitched a humor column to the local weekly newspaper. The pitch included three sample columns. The editor immediately pounced on the idea and offered me $5 per column.

One of the samples was about businessmen's lunches. The take-away at the bottom was that although the businessmen might stay a bit too long and drink a tad too much at their lunches, it did add to the economy and also provided waitress jobs for "obnoxious and otherwise unemployable women."

The editor used that column for the first of mine to be published. And, he got an earful from women and one husband of a local waitress.

He told me he picked that one because it caused him to picture this one particular waitress in one restaurant in town. We compared notes and laughed when we realized we both were picturing the same woman. Since it was a small town back then, he knew the waitress's name and, yes, it was her husband that called the editor!

There were absolutely no identifying features for the waitress in the column -- no age, no hair color, it didn't say if she was skinny or fat. Yet, the husband just knew we were targeting his wife. I wonder how?

Word of mouth about that first column made my (sometimes obnoxious) column a must read in the following weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nattering

N is the letter of the day for the A to Z Challenge.

I have never heard a single person use the word "nattering" in conversation.

However, Spiro Agnew, the only Vice President of the United States to resign from office due to criminal charges, is also at least as famous for uttering "nattering nabobs of negativism".

Agnew relished criticizing opponents with mind blowing comments. Try saying these three times fast:

  • pusillanimous pussyfooters
  • hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history
  • an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals

Of course, Agnew had help from speech writers William Safire and Pat Buchanan for those gems. Safire takes credit for the more famous nabobs quote.

I taught computer software for Univac for two years. It was fun. My boss always accused me of buying my critiques that the students filled out at the end of my classes. Yes, they were that good!

One of those critiques, I fondly remember. An older gentleman who had struggled somewhat in my 3-week Assembler/Exec 8 class wrote: "I thank you for your compassion and help which allowed this nattering nabob of negativism to grasp this demanding course."

This pusillanimous pussyfooter hopeless and hysterical nattering nabob really appreciated that comment.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Management Speak

The A to Z challenge marches relentlessly on with the letter "M".

I hate management speak. If you're going to talk about a shovel, call it a shovel, not a "portable dirt placement tool."

I worked for large companies during my 50+ years working career. None of them could write and publish a memo without management speak. They all were consciously incapable of being honest in their communications. The more obtuse, the better.

I was a maverick when writing business letters and memos. I said what I meant. In easy, short sentences that anyone could understand -- even my managers. That means that on the rare occasion that I got drafted for some proposal activity, I was forever getting comments like "that's too specific" or "expand that paragraph out so that it is three pages long."

I gave presentations at conferences on bar codes for a couple of years. One compliment I received came from a gentleman who said, "I must have two dozen conference proceedings in my office. Your presentation is the only one in all of those that I ever read all the way through." Ah, that meant I succeeded. I wrote the paper to inform and educate, not to throw obscure terms out to prove how smart I was.

I turned down multiple opportunities to become a manager. First, my skill set is such that I function best in a support role. Second, I hate meetings -- they waste too much time and accomplish little due to management speak. And, third, I don't like to lie to people. You'll get an underling that comes to you and asks about the rumors of a layoff and asks if it is safe to buy that new car. Even though you know he's on the layoff list for next week, you'll have to smile and say, "No layoffs are planned."

There is one particular word that's used by management that sets my teeth on edge: synergy. It means two things working together to form a greater whole. Mathematically, that can be expressed as:

2 + 2 = 6.5

In practice what it really means is that management doesn't have a clue why they are buying the other company and have no other logical explanation, but they're going ahead with it anyway.

If you see synergy in some communication, put on your hard hat and flack jacket, run for the hills and take cover.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Laptop

Pull up a chair, sip a cold drink, it is going to be an "L" of a day in the A to Z Challenge.

When I was in high school, you could tell the nerds (we were called 'square' back then) by the pocket protector stuffed with colored pencils and the big K&E slide rule on their hip. My, how times change.

When I started working in 1960, the only calculator was a Friden. It was a monster that went kurchung, kurchung when doing multiply or divide.

The first computer I worked on was an RCA Model 301 that took up two six-foot tall racks and had 4K of magnetic core memory. I later worked on the super computer at that time, the CDC 6600. My Android smart phone has more power and memory than that "super computer" had in 1968.

My first "portable" computer at work was a Compaq portable. It weighed enough to be a boat anchor. It had 168K of memory (note: that is Kb, not Mb) and two 5.25 inch floppy drives. No hard drive, although we put a voice recognition card and a 10Mb hard drive in an expansion box on the back of it. I programmed the voice card using the C language and it took over 3 hours to compile the small program.

Fast forward to today and the wife and I have a couple of desktop computers, two Acer laptops and I have a small netbook for traveling. What a difference a few years (decades?) make. I love my Acer laptop. It normally sits on the workbench in the garage so I can smoke and surf at the same time.

Once in a great while I do use the laptop on my laptop. But, have you noticed that while the laptop computers get more powerful and a little smaller, that your laptop to sit them on seems to be shrinking at a faster pace as the waist line expands?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Knees

Kriminey Kristol, we're up to K in the A to Z Challenge.

You may kneel on bended knees at church or dramatically in front of your beloved intended as you pop the question, but knees never rate a conscious thought -- until they don't work the way they should.

My knees aren't giving me trouble, but it seems like I know more than my share of people with knee problems. The latest is Stu McNicol, the husband of dear friend Donna McNicol. Stu, a retired firefighter, had two knees replaced during the same operation on March 27. In a word: Ouch!

Stu's operation by all accounts was a big success and he's undergoing a couple of weeks of strenuous rehab.

I was surprised to learn that firefighters often have knee problems. Climbing ladders with the weight of all their equipment must take a toll.

I read a lot of mysteries and thriller/suspense novels. I can't think of one that I've read that hasn't used a knee as a weapon. Somewhere with that book, the hero or heroine is going to be attacked and BINGO the bad guy gets a knee to the groin and our hero escapes. Works every time.

Now, I have to wonder if the heroes will have to have knee replacement surgery.

Be sure to read about Donna and Stu's adventures as full-time RVers on her blog and her cute fiction for the A to Z Challenge on My Write Spot.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joker

This is the second week of the A to Z Challenge. Are you ready for the letter J?

Okay, I'll admit it! I am a joker. Through and through and in the flesh, a joker.

I love to laugh. At jokes and at myself. And, I have pulled some outrageous pranks over the years.

For over five years, I sent out the Morning Message humor newsletter daily to email subscribers. It contained clean jokes only. I got so many dirty jokes sent to me in response, that I started the Castaways, a dirty joke newsletter. The wrestlers in the World Wrestling Federation loved that one!

Life is too short to be a grouch.

One of my favorite pranks was pulled on friends in Bradenton long ago. I mailed in an ad for the Thursday shopper that read "Pigs $5; chickens 75 cents" and gave Maxine's beauty shop number for day phone contact and their home phone for night time contact. Maxine was shampooing some gal's hair when the phone rang on Thursday morning. She wiped off her hands and answered. "Do you have any pigs left?" the caller asked. "Pigs?! I don't have any damn pigs!" and she hung up. She just gets her hands back in the shampoo and the phone rings again. "Are you sure you don't have any pigs?"

After about the fourth caller that morning, Maxine called the shopper about the ad. They read off the $1 ad that I had sent in -- complete with Maxine and Tommy's home address. They soon figured out who was to blame. So, they started giving the callers my phone number and told them that the shopper had made a mistake and that my number was the correct one. I, in turn, then gave them another friend's phone number and he then started giving the callers yet another phone number of another friend. Can you believe that they got over 50 phone calls for those $5 pigs and that people will go to any lengths and phone calls to get them?

Leave your (clean) jokes and pranks in the comments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ideas

Onward we march to the letter "I" for the A to Z Challenge.

Everyone was ideas. It is what you do with them that make them a good idea or a bad idea. Of course, you can ignore your ideas and they'll become fleeting ideas.

One evening in high school, family friends had a medical emergency and I was pressed into service to baby sit their two tweens. They slept the entire time. I opted to scan the books on a shelf and settled on an electronics textbook to read. I loved it. Thus, an idea of possibly making a career in the electronics field was planted.

After high school, I didn't have the money to go to college and worked briefly for the Clerk of Circuit Court doing photography work. When I became unemployed, I looked for another job in the photography field and happened to interview with someone that had a friend in the state rehabilitation office. I confessed to him that I was interested in electronics, so because I had a bad arm from polio, he set me up with an appointment with state rehab for testing. I passed the tests with flying colors and they paid for my tech school training.

The school was a glorified radio and TV repair school, but I managed to get enough basic knowledge (in vacuum tube theory!) to land a job as an electronics technician for a defense contractor. Five years later, I got laid off and I found a job at RCA working on computers. After three years on the hardware side of things where I had to learn to program the computers in order to be able to fix them, I switched permanently to writing software.

My computer career spanned 45 years. Despite conventional wisdom that you are washed up and over the hill in computer software by the age of 35, I was still programming and keeping up with (or ahead of) the youngsters at the age of 70.

All, because one night in high school I had an idea.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Honesty

We start the second week of the A to Z Challenge trying to be honest.

I belong to a twelve step program that has a concept of "rigorous honesty." Many have accused me of being brutally honest, however. I guess it is just the curmudgeon in me that comes out when least expected.

Being honest does take practice. Sometimes being honest without being a dingbat is more difficult.

For instance, it is a no-win situation to answer the question from your wife when she asks, "Does this make me look fat?"

Just yesterday, I dropped a quarter when I got my change at Starbucks. A boy, about 7 years old, was standing behind me with his dad. He quickly bent over and picked it up for me and handed it to me. I handed it back with the comment, "Here, you keep it. Thanks for being honest." He beamed as if I had given him a $5 bill, not just twenty-five cents.

This post is short. Now, it is your turn. Leave an honest comment below. Go ahead, I'm prepared -- I have my helmet and flack jacket on.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gadgets

The end of the first week of the A to Z Challenge brings us to the letter "G".

I'm old enough to remember that the one and only nerdy gadget I owned in high school was a 12 inch K&E slide rule. Yes, I had a pocket protector with all different colored pencils stuffed in it too.

My, how times change. Our household consists of just me and the wife (both in our early 70's), but we have enough chargers and gadgets to stock a section of Best Buy. It takes three 5-outlet surge protectors in the home office, another one for the living room TV and accessories, plus miscellaneous things plugged into the outlets in the bathrooms, kitchen and elsewhere. For fun, let's take inventory...

  • An old HP XP desktop that my wife still uses
  • My wife's Acer laptop running Windows 7
  • My Acer laptop running Vista
  • My little XP netbook that I use when traveling
  • An XP desktop and older laptop are in a bin and no longer being used
  • An old HP printer that is tied to her HP desktop
  • A new Epson wireless printer for all of the portables to use via WIFI
  • A 2-year-old Kindle
  • A new Kindle Fire
  • Cable modem (of course)
  • WIFI router
  • Ooma VOIP box
  • A Captel captioning telephone that is connected to our router for internet access and to our Ooma VOIP box. This is my phone so I can view what the other person is saying.
  • An UPS for the cable modem, wifi router, Ooma box and Captel phone
  • An Android Droid smartphone so I can send text messages and email
  • The wife's cell phone that I can send text messages to
  • An electric razor and an electric beard trimmer in the bathroom
  • Five TVs -- two of which are flat screens
  • In the garage there are chargers for the battery powered drill and the string trimmer/edger
  • In the living room, there is the HD settop box, the 52" flatscreen TV, a DVD player, a sound bar and a WII.
  • In the master bedroom, there is a 42" flatscreen TV and a DVD player.
  • There is a portable DVD player somewhere that is AA battery powered
  • There is a portable CD player somewhere that is AA battery powered
  • There are two digital cameras (his and hers -- she stole his, he got hers in return)
  • Can't forget the Garmin GPS in her car
  • Last, but not least, in the kitchen there is the coffee maker, toaster oven, microwave and can opener.

Whew! That's quite a list for two old people. And, what do you want to bet that I forgot to list something?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for F-bomb

Day 6 of the April A to Z Challenge so it is time for a topic starting with F.

What is it with the younger generation that causes them to make such frequent use of the F-bomb and other profanity?

I mean, I'm no prude. I've been around enough military and ex-military types to be able to cuss like a sailor, marine, army or air force guy and maybe even give them a few lessons. But I don't do it in public and I don't write it except for fiction when it is called for.

My public display of my profanity proficiency is pretty much limited to a rare damn, hell or Oh shit!

In private, I do let go once in a while. For instance: I always called a spade a spade until I hit my toe with one the other day.

One guy on the net goes overboard with F-bombs, in my humble opinion. Paul Carr is an excellent writer, but he is stuck on the profane shock-jock type of writing. In moderation, it would (maybe) be okay, but he overdoes it. Like a parrot that has been taught to cuss. He uses the F-bomb in his tweets. He used it all of the time in the two books that he has written. He used it in his TechCrunch items - which were even labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work). He uses it on his new writing gig at Pando Daily. He uses it on the videos he makes. And, his new start-up in Vegas is even called NSFW Corp. and when you go to the site to sign up for the beta of his new publishing venture, the biggest word on the web page is the F-bomb.

Paul Carr's two books were about personal experiences of creating, running and getting kicked out of a publishing business and about his various escapades living strictly in hotels. (He found it cheaper to live in hotels than to rent an apartment with all of its utilities, etc.) Those experiences were really just one drunken foul-up after another. Funny, but sad too because you could see that he was living on the edge with alcohol. They are filled with F-bombs.

Paul wrote a small e-book last month and publicized the hell out of it. It is one of Amazon's singles. Is a fun read about how he managed to quit drinking without AA. And, he tells you the steps he took. Thankfully, he also is starting to show some restraint on using F-bombs. I did a search and only found two in the 45-minute read. Maybe, just maybe, sobriety is having a positive effect on his language.

I hope Paul puts the F-bomb out to pasture. As I used to tell my kids: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for E-book

The first week of the A to Z Challenge is going by quickly. We're already up to E.

I love to read and e-books, along with Kindles and Kindle apps make reading a pleasure.

I have a two-year-old Kindle, a new Kindle Fire tablet and also have the Kindle apps on my Droid smart phone and on my PC.

And Amazon keeps all of those devices synced, so that I can easily read my e-books that I have for the Kindle where ever I might be.

The Kindle itself is great! It is black and white only, but it is readable any where except in bed with the lights turned off. It is easy to read in sunlight, so it is perfect for the beach.

The Kindle Fire tablet is in color. But it is impossible to read in sunlight. You can enjoy it in bed with the lights turned off. The same holds true for the Kindle app on my Droid smartphone.

I think I've only read an e-book on my laptop PC once. I just don't like reading long form stuff on the PC.

E-books are available from Amazon (and others) for free up to whatever the market will bear. Amazon frequently runs specials for good books for $.99 or $1.99 too. And, they're also publishing "Singles", which are longer than a magazine article, but shorter than a book for those same prices. (They are typically about a 45 minute read for me.)

When I got my Kindle, most top tier novels were $9.99 on the Kindle. Then Apple got involved with their iTunes and let the publishers set the prices. Amazon had to follow suit or not carry those books. The book publisher's greed took over and now most e-books are priced in the $12 to $15 range. Often you can get the hardcover book for within pennies of the e-book price. If that is the case, I typically buy the hardcover because 1) it means the publisher makes less profit on it, 2) I get free 2nd day air delivery because I'm a Prime subscriber and 3) I can then donate the book to a friend or the library.

Maybe I should have saved this post for "K" for Kindle. LOL

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Disks

Letter D time for the A to Z Challenge.

Slow down technology! We can't keep up.

One of the first home computers that I owned was a Radio Shack TRS-80. Which, if you are old enough to remember, was lovingly called the Trash 80. It had an 8 inch floppy disk drive.

At work, I used a Compac "portable" (at 40 lbs, it was more like a boat anchor) PC which came with two 5 inch disks. It had an expansion box on the back of it and we purchased a 10 mb hard drive to use with it. The other expansion slot contained a voice recognition board. Yes, Virginia, Siri voice recognition has been around for almost 30 years!

In 1994, I purchased a 486 DX 2 for personal use and to get on the internet. It had the 3.5" floppies -- in the hard case. And only a 20 mb hard drive.

Then we progressed with CDs and DVDs. Where will it end?

All of the hundreds of 8", 5" and 3.5" floppies containing software and personal files have long gone into the landfill. The info lost forever. Even we'd have kept them, there is no way to play them and use their files.

Movies and pictures are the same way. Luckily, we have many shoe boxes of old photos dating back to the 1930's. They are fun to look at once in a while. I pitched my hundreds of 35 mm slides a couple years ago because I didn't have any way to view them.

The wife kept all of her 8 mm movies, however. And, she just spent $56 to have two reels put onto a DVD so we could see her travels in Japan and Hong Kong when she was a skater with Holiday on Ice. I foresee another $300 investment to get the rest of her 8mm stash converted.

That's expensive for memories, but that isn't what worries me. How much will it cost me in 5 years to get the DVDs converted to the next technology? How will you convert the thousands of digital photos that you have taken? That's the $64 thousand dollar question.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Compliment

Day three of the A to Z Challenge. Quick! Someone compliment me for getting to letter "C".

Everyone likes to get a sincere compliment. It literally makes your day.

And even the one giving the compliment will get good vibes from doing so.

It is easy to do. Just observe and reward good behavior with a compliment.

I go to McDonald's for a sausage biscuit, hash browns and large black coffee nearly every morning. McD's is close by -- just two short blocks away. Most of the staff are quite friendly. And, I've found that by smiling, saying polite thank you's, and saying things like "I appreciate your good service" or "Your smile in the morning makes my day" pays dividends. Now, if any one of a half dozen McD's employees see me park my van, they'll have my order rang up as I approach the counter. And, one even told me how to place the order so that it costs me $3.21 instead of $3.73.

If I order a sausage biscuit meal with large coffee, the total comes to $3.73. If I order a sausage biscuit, hashbrowns and a large coffee, the bill is only $3.21.

Of course, you need to be careful with compliments. Telling the sweet young thing at work that her dress is sexy is probably not a good idea. An innocent remark, regardless of its good intentions, can get one in a lot of hot water. Especially in the work place. My advice is to lower your sight lines from the neck line to the feet. Complimenting a woman on her nice shoes will always be welcomed.

I bought a new cowboy hat at a consignment shop. It has a wild purple hat band on it. I wore it to the mall one day and I got at least five "nice hat!" comments as I was walking around. That made my day.

I had thought about writing about being a curmudgeon for the letter "C". I definitely am one. Heck, an Orlando Sentinel columnist was calling me a curmudgeon before I turned 50. Being a curmudgeon means that I have to be very careful when I dole out compliments for fear that they will be left handed compliments. ("No, dear, that dress doesn't make you look fat.")

Maybe we'll explore those when we get to the letter "L".

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for BASIC

This is the second day of April's A to Z challenge, which brings us to B.

Oh, how I miss BASIC! It was a good little programming language that came with all of the personal computers back in the 1980's. Simple. Easy to learn. Handy for those little quick and dirty programming tasks. It was a perfect first programming language for kids (and adults) to learn.

BASIC was created at Darmouth in 1964 by John George Kemeny and Thomas Eugene Kurtz and some grad students. It was an acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It was the main language used for time-sharing on minicomputers and then was packaged (normally in ROM firmware) on nearly every microcomputer.

Three of the grad students went from Dartmouth to the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. At Ford, they found some labor lawyers who provided venture capital and they started a time-sharing company called Cyphernetics in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I worked for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) in 1969 as a Customer Engineer on their site and they taught me BASIC. It's not often you get to learn from the creators.

For those newer to computers, time-sharing allowed multiple people to use the minicomputers via teletypes to access the computers via modem over the phone lines. No punch cards. Input was by paper tape or keyboard entry. Output was typed on the teletype's paper or paper tape. It was real progress in 1969.

In the mid '70's, I did some freelance BASIC consulting a minicomputer in Tampa. The company sold printers and some of the first VCRs available. I redid their software accounting system in a variant of business Basic. (Mainly to allow them to hide their income from copying porn movies on six VCRs they had in a back room.)

When PCs first came out, everyone was having fun with programming in BASIC. There were all kinds of simple games available. The PC magazines used to print programs that you could, in turn, type into your PC.

When Florida started their Lotto, I wrote a small program so that I could input the weekly numbers and it would display the frequency for each of the winning numbers. It was a fun task. But, alas, I still haven't won the Lotto.

BASIC taught you to program. Its replacements such as Microsoft's Visual Basic amd .NET, teaches you how to click, drag and drop. It is too complicated for most people to grasp.

Maybe it is time to get back to BASIC.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Apple

We are joining the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. A letter a day will keep the cobwebs at bay.

A is for Apple. Not the kind you polish and give to the teacher, but the tech behemoth that offers iEverything in exchange for your hard earned dollars.

I am not an Apple fanboy, as their vocal followers are called. Apple makes great gear, but it is way overpriced -- as their company coffers with its billions of dollars in reserve can attest. Their profit margin on their gear can be characterized in one word: obscene.

I have never been able to justify the cost differential, thus I buy Acer laptops for $300 vs Apple laptops for $1K+. I am not a Micro$oft lover either, but I can live with their Windows OS and don't have to buy any of their other software products.

Sure, I would love to have an iPad. If you want to send me one, I'll gladly accept it. I have an Amazon Fire and I find the 7" screen is too small for any meaningful internet surfing. The iPad's 10 inch screen would be welcome and the newest version's screen is supposed to be awesome. But the iPad's price that is three times (or more) of the Fire's and it keeps the iPad as wishful thinking as far as my wallet goes.

My smartphone is an Android phone; my tablet is an Android based Fire; my PCs (all five of them) are Windows machines. Would I become an Apple fanboy if I ever owned a piece of Apple gear? I don't know. I'd be willing to find out. Just send me a new MacBook, an iPhone and an iPad and we'll see. (Address for UPS to deliver them is available on request.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Old Fart's Journal

Every time I dredged up some story from long ago, my daughter Cathy would urge me to "write it down."

It was very tempting, since I did want to set the record straight that I did not walk 3 miles in waist high snow to school backwards and barefoot as she claimed. I did walk a mile in foot high snow in near zero temps forwards with rubber boots on only to find out the school was closed due to a heating problem and had to walk back home. There! Let the record stand corrected.

I you want to know the straight scoop on all of the other things I've done while on this planet, you'll have to download and read The Old Fart's Journal.

It is a 53 page e-book (.pdf file) with cover art by our buddy Nate Owens.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A, B, C... April is getting closer

Along with over a thousand other bloggers, I've signed up for the A to Z Challenge in April. And, April is fast approaching. Eeeek. I've only got three topics written and scheduled to drop.

Suggestions welcome. LOL

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A, B, C, D, E, F....

Okay! We found this old blog that we hadn't done anything with for a long while. That was the first step.

Then, we fought Blogspot's design until we managed to get the A to Z Challenge icon placed on it as part of a redesign.

Now, we will sign up for the Challenge and have to ponder what to write here during April for the A-Z Challenge. It starts on April Fool's Day with some topic beginning with the letter "A" (hmmm, Accident, Ammends, Alaska, Apple - what will it be?) and ends at the end of the month with something beginning with the letter "Z", as in Zipper, Zebra, Zonky.

It should be fun! Even if no one reads it.