Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Throw the Printer in the Trash

There is one little icon in the upper right hand corner of the AOL screen that is dangerous.  It is unprotected.  You can click it by accident, and I have several times.  I cannot find it when I am looking for it, but I sure can find it when I DON'T want it.

It starts printing whatever document that is on the screen.  Sound handy?  Well, it's NOT. Because it is going to print that document whether you want it to or not.  If it happens to be a fifty page treatise on whale-bone, you're gonna get it ALL. 

People tell me I can stop my printer when it is printing, but I never can.  I go to control panel, select "printer", then select the actual printer (though I have only one), then right click until I see a command that says "Clear all documents."  I doesn't. 

It does stop printing the pages.  Instead it prints one line of gibberish on the top of each page, and turns out page after page of trash.

I believe that once the printer starts printing a fifty to one hundred page document, you might as well let it go... print em all. You can turn it off, unplug it, let it cool its heels until Monday morning, and when you turn it on,.... it begins printing the document again.

Once you accidentally hit that icon, you might as well throw the printer in the trash, and get a new one...but don't hit that icon with the new one.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekend Assignment #171 -- Unusual Technology

John Scalzi asks us "What is the most unusual technology or machine you have used?"



Here it is: a Jamstation.  It is an accompaniment device that plays, according your selection, some one of 150 standard songs pattern accompaniments to your own musical instrument. You see it there, the smaller box on the most unusual music stand, an easy chair.

Plug in the speakers, seen also in the chair, select the accompaniment you want say Country - Bluegrass, press the button and a neat combo, bass, drums, guitar, brass, play a standard chord progression for  you.  You are the solo artist on your keyboard (shown) or harmonica (also shown on the chair arm).

At the touch of a button, any of those jamming buddies can be asked to "lay out" so YOU can star.  No hurt feelings they just shut up. 

You can program the jamstation for any chord progression you want, standard, or your own compost ion.  Plug it into your amplifier and it is a whole band for your performance. 

You don't play in their key?  No need to strain... you can turn a wheel and they play in any key you choose.

Also on the easy chair/orchestra pit is a DJ box.  Yamaha makes a rhythm section too, with all the distortions or reverberations you might wish with a dozen variations of some 75 patterns, and a choice of instruments. That is thousands of different combos for you to play along with.

Behind the Jamstation and the DJ box is a plain old tape recorder, in case I want to preserve some theseepic productions.

Under the keyboard run wires to the five separate power supplies.  You would think with so many appliances needing low voltage power that there would be a universal low voltage supply...but no.  Each device needs its own little transformer. (12v. AC, 6 v. DC, 9 v. DC, and 12 v. DC)

Earphones optional in case you want to practice late at night without disturbing the neighbors,.


Snow Job

“Synthetic” Methylated Alkyloid

Actually all Methylated Alkyloid is synthetic, since it does not appear in nature. To be created naturally it would have to be compressed under tremendous pressure for millions of years, like petroleum.

Recipe for Methylated Alkyloid:

Pulverize about a cord of fresh Eucalyptus logs. Leach out the resin with distilled water. Distill the liquid.

Pulverize several bushels of Juniper berries and distill the liquid.

Combine the liquids under heat and pressure and infuse them into petroleum Jelly.

Seal the combined block of “synthetic” Methylated Alkyloid in high pressure cylinders. Draw off vapors as needed through bronze pipes and high pressure valves.



One kind reader suggested I "go for it" when I was last up before dawn and decided NOT to go out for the sunrise. So this morning, up early again, I did go out, after telling the caregiver I was going outside in the dark.

I found a spot in the parking lot where I could see the Eastern horizon.  There was a red glow in the northeast.  I looked about and calculated which tall trees and buildings would show the sunlight first.

I was all anticipatioin....but I got too cold waiting.  Better to NOT get chilled....I came inside.  Adventure concluded.  Dawn came up without me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Found on the Hard Drive

I found this in the computer file, and I paste here, unedited.

My next keyboard will have 16 syncable arpeggiators. I don’t know what they are even. Musicians’ Friend; the company I bought my present keyboard from, offers them on a new keyboard. They are so new that even the spell checker rejects both words

I love it when Roddy inserts an arpeggio of some sort. Imagine what fun I could have with 16 built in arpeggios. Do they have names I wonder... The Jackson Five, the Chico Marx, the Jose Iturbi, the Music Man, the Rolling Stones.

I used to run my hand up the keyboard and that was called an arpeggio. Chico Marx used to roll an orange up and down the keyboard for effect. Jazzbo used to get so excited that he whacked the piano keyboard with his feet. It wasn’t musical, but it made the audience laugh. Could I do that with my next keyboard?

Another question. Could it be that I spend too much hot weather indoors at the computer fantasying about my musical abilities.

Bertha and I went shopping at Long's drug store. We had only fly swatters on our shopping list. We bought $58 worth of stuff and when we got home found we had forgotten fly swatters. We had a marvelous array of cookies, appliances, ant killers, but no fly swatters.

Sugar did not deter the ants around here. I concluded the "sugaring" of ants experiment. Now I am thoroughly modern. I put Comet on them. They, it is reported, do not like the chlorinated powder on their little feet. I wonder if this is just another old wives tale. I will report on phase two of the ants experiment.

Meanwhile I got great joy with the leaf blower. I was blowing the driveway clear of juniper berries, leaves, and pebbles from my wheel chair, and I found that I could send an ant hill and thousands of ants flying through the atmosphere. When they come down, say, in Victorville or Barstow, they will have trouble finding their way home to our driveway.

I hate ants. They have an organized society, like bees, and have perfected socialism. So, hooray for them. I am unorganized, and prefer it that way, and I hate ants.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Two From Under the Car Seat

   I don't clean out my car often enough.  When I did today, I found a packet of pictures under the seat.  They were dated 2004. That means it has been three years since I last looked under the seat.

   In the packet were two pictures I cannot remember.  The first shows me dressed for some activity here at the old folks home.  It was either Hawaiian Day or Funny Hat Day.  I am not sure which of these applies to my strange get up.  Don't you wish you lived here with the exciting program of dress ups that we have.


I must have taken the second picture myself.  Only the automatic timer would have snapped such a goofy expression.  I seem to be saying, "Wait a minute.  I'm not ready yet."


I plan to put the pictures back in the packet, and the packet back under the seat for another three years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sixty-two Cent Education

Most of our education costs us more than sixty-two cents, so I was lucky.

I am always curious about new things, so I wanted to see how you make your own prints from digital photo machine at the Target photo counter. I had my Polaroid digital camera with me, so the opportunity presented itself.

The clerk on duty showed me how to take the "chip" from my camera and insert it into the machine, and how to select a couple of pictures for samples. I pressed print.  The clerk told me to pay at the cashier when I had finished my shopping and then come with the receipt and pick up my pictures.

I shopped for a while and then went to the cashier and paid sixty-two cents for my two machine made prints, got the receipt, and took it to the photo counter.  NO CLERK.  The lady as the nearby customer service counter came and looked for my prints, as did a floor walker. No prints.

My education...Make your prints on your computer at home.  Cost of education...sixty-two cents.  Well worth the price.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Oh, it is nice to go to bed at 10:30, instead of usual 12:30, and then get up before sun-up and watch the day break. I am sleeping better, with change of medication.  The weather is warm and I sleep on top of the bed, uncovered.  I sprawl and enjoy. I just flop down and relax.

The sun comes up slowly and it gets light gradually. It is impressive and delightful. I wish I lived at a place where I could go outside before sun up.  It would create too much stir at the old folks home where there are attendants on duty all night, and switches on the doors.  If you go out at night, the call systems tells the staff, "South-east door alert. The door has been opened."  And then, "The South-east door is closed...the alert is cleared."  All that alarm because you want to look at the stars or watch the sun come up.  And then the questions..."Did you go outside? Why?"

"To look at the sun come up."

"That's not an official activity.  Please let us know before you go out."

It is not worth the hassle.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Our Twig


        Our twig                        Our twig today


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers' Day Re-run



   My own father died accidentally when I was less than a year old, and Grandfather came to be known by me as "Dad". 

   He was very patient, having already raised my own father and my uncle, and I don't remember any swats by him, nor any serious rebukes. Yet he was a good example.

   He worked hard, five and half day per week at the office as an attorney for a title insurance company.  I used to walk with him when he walked the dogs.  By sitting on his lap while he read the Saturday Evening Post and pointed out words in advertisements I learned to read.  The first word I learned to read was not "run", or "spot" or "Dick" or "Jane" but GOODYEAR. The kids in the Campbell's Soup ads were my Dick and Jane.

   He rode the "Big Red" street car to work with such regularity that he became a favorite of the crew, and they would drop him off at our driveway, not a scheduled stop, on rainy days. 

   When he retired from the title company, he opened an Escrow service of his own.  I was hired to prepare the office and I went on my bicycle before school each morning and swept the office and emptied the waste baskets. 

   He ordered my first movie camera and started me on a hobby that I have loved all my life.  When I got a Jiffy Kodak for my first still camera, one of the first pictures I took was of Dad

                            Step-father                   Own father

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dental Shock

I've been going to the dentist for a partial plate, upper.  The cost has never been mentioned.  I didn't ask because I knew that however much it was I would be uncomfortable with it, and he didn't volunteer because I never asked.

Today I told the receptionist that I'd better pay for the work so far... the fitting.  I asked what I owed.

"Ten, fifty three," she replied.

I was astounded. "How much," I asked her so she would repeat.

"Ten, fifty three."

In disbelief I said, "Ten thousand fifty three?"

She smiled. "No, one thousand fifty-three."

I paid before she changed her mind.

Blissfully Ignorant

I was better off when I didn’t read the labels.

In those days, I would open a can, say, of sardines, and enjoy the little buggers on crackers with mayo. They were tasty, and I got my Omega III oils without concern. But the age of enlightenment came, and I started reading labels on cans and packages. What a mistake.

I bought a can of bargain sardines at Long’s Drug Store. For 99 cents, I bought $2.50 worth of the little snacks. I was curious, so I studied the label. I found (1) they weren’t called sardines, but baby Herring, (2) they were from Latvia. I should have stopped there.

I went further. I looked up Latvia. I found that the baby Herring business was big in Latvia. In fact, it was the major industry. Furthermore, I found that Latvia, and its neighbor, Estonia, on the Bay of Riga on the Baltic Sea, are limited by treaty to the amount of Herring they can fish each year. Together they can catch only 28,000 tons of fish. That is over a billion tiny fish, yearly.

I should have stopped there. But no. I studied on. On the Internet I found there hundreds of species of fish called sardines. And I found they come from all over the world. I had thought sardines came from Norway, and the Baltic Sea only. And I found that the realm of sardines is bifurcated into the canned world and the fresh world. Fifty species of fish can be canned as sardines. Only one species can be labeled sardines. Others must be labeled with a modifier, such as Norwegian Sardines or Pacific Sardines, or some such. In the realm of fresh fish, any species can be sold as sardines. In fact, Portugal has a Sardine Festival, on which date the Portuguese go nuts over fresh sardines, with stalls along the street selling grilled sardines.

Armed with this knowledge I looked at the other cans in my pantry. The mackerel came from China. One can of sardines came from Thailand, and another from Morocco. Thailand I can understand, its’ being on the Indian Ocean, but Morocco? Morocco is a desert for gosh sakes. Sardines from the Sahara? Unbelievable.

Indeed I was better off before I read the labels. When dining on sardines, it is better to be blissfully ignorant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dinner with the Cat

For a while I lived with my step-dad. We were both single, and he did the cooking.

One day when he was away I had to fix my own dinner. I looked in the cupboard to see what was available. I found a bright red can of Jack Mackerel and I opened that. I had mackerel and crackers.

When step-dad returned he asked, “What did you have for dinner?”

“I had some mackerel from the cupboard.”

“What? I keep that to feed the cat.”

“Tasted pretty good,” I said.

After that he would frequently ask, “Shall I fix us some dinner, or did you have dinner with Missy?”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Town Crier

In days before Television and Radio News, towns used to employ a Town Crier to patrol the streets at night and cry out in a loud voice the time and the status of the streets: "One O'clock, and all's well."  His reassuring cry and the time must have helped the citizens rest.

I wonder what he called when all was NOT well? Perhaps, "Two O'clock. Storm brewing, creek rising."

At the old folks home we have replaced the town crier with lighted digital clocks to tell us the time and a care giver who peers in at us to make sure all is well.

My grandparents had a cuckoo clock to chirp the time hourly, and I have a talking watch that states the hours: "Beep.  It is three o'clock, A.M."

Usually I sleep right through the announcments, and I suppose folks slept right through the shouts of the town crier.

I wonder why these customs prevail, even in this modern day.

Quiz on the Nineteenth Century

Let's see what you know about the nineteenth century.  As always, run your cursor over the answer to reveal it.

Nineteenth century quiz

Whose cow kicked over a lantern and started the Chicago Fire of 1871


Whose development of alternating current made practical the home use of electricity


Who was Sherlock Holmes adversary, and who was Holmes’ companion and biographer


Who discovered gold in Sutter’s mill race and started the Gold rush of 1849


What two railroads connected at Promontory Point Utah to complete a transcontinental railroad


Where did John Wilkes Booth assassinate Abraham Lincoln


Who founded the Mormon Church that Brigham Young carried on.


What ARE the first names of Lewis and Clark, and what was the name of their expedition


Who invented the telephone


Whose invention of the telegraph made modern telecommunication possible


What were the first words spoken on the telephone, and what was the first telegraph message.



What is the latitude of the famous Mason-Dixon Line and what states did it separate


Where did Henry Ford make his first automobile and in what year?


:“Fifty four forty, or Fight” was catch phrase denoting dispute between what countries?


Who was elected President of U.S. in 1800? In 1900?


From what job did Robert E. Lee have to resign in order to lead the Confederate Army



What job did Sally Hemmings hold?


Who gave her father “forty whacks”


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Morning Adventure -- Round Trip

Once in a while I feel like I could walk again.  Today was such a day. 

I woke up feeling like I should try walking.  I got my walker from its storage place and placed it in front of my wheel chair.  I rose and walked.  Slowly, very slowly, and putting all my weight on my walker, I walked across the room.  I turned and started back.

"I'm walking...and as well as some residents here at the old folks home. Maybe I could manage more."

But by the time I reached the wheel chair again, I was thoroughly exhausted and ready to sit down. But I made it.  A round trip of twenty feet.

 Maybe more next Sunday..

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I Promised You a Rose Garden - One Day Later

What a difference a day makes.  (Popular Song) And that is true in our garden. Look at the difference in the blossoms in these two photos, taken a day apart.



Shocking Fruit

On the way out of the dining room, I reached into the fruit bowl and selected a nice red winesap apple.

Later I took a big bite of "apple" and was shocked..."What's the matter with this apple?"  It was wrong flavor, wrong color, wrong texture.  Curious I took another bite.  It was a NECTARINE.

It was a perfectly good Nectarine, only, I had expected apple. The shock came from expecting one thing and getting something different.

I was reminded of the time a dinner guest, unfamiliar with my Grandmother's cuisine, took a great spoonful of mayonnaise from the top of his Jello salad, and while I watched in amusement, put it in his mouth.  He let out a yell as though he had been shot. 

Since it was on Jello, he thought he was about to taste whipped cream, and instead got the tart bite of mayo. There is nothing wrong with mayo, except when you are expecting whipped cream.


Friday, June 8, 2007

I Promised You a Rose Garden - Today

This is the way "our" rose bush looks today


                     Second Blooming


Monday, June 4, 2007

Senior Semantics

There are two ways a senior citizen can speak to a housekeeper.

(1)  "Please put things on the lower shelf where I can reach them."

OR (What I hear more of)

(2) "What's the matter with you?  Can't you see I am in a wheel chair?  How am I supposed to reach that high shelf? Do my arms look that long to you?  Maybe if I had Gorilla arms I could reach some of that stuff. How many times do I have to tell you?"

Please, folks, remind me to be the former, there are too many of the latter.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Pretty Place to Live

I live in an old folks home, but it is a PRETTY old folks home.


There are several rose gardens.  One contains "our" rose bush, the one we have followed from twig to second blooming.  Here it is today with the second crop of blossoms and in the upper left corner, lots of buds which will bloom soon.


There are two inside courtyards with flowers.


Also in the inside courtyards are orange trees.  Look at this crop of oranges.  They are lovely to look at, although the winter frost has made most of those gorgeous oranges rather juiceless.


I was elected to "baby sit" the garden club's tray of seedlings. I squirt the little shoots with a spray bottle on this week end when the regular squirter is away on a trip.

Comfort Sounds

Last night as I was dropping off to sleep I heard the sound of a train approaching town.  I listened as it whistled its way through town and then off into the distance. It was a calming and familiar sound. I enjoyed it, and then went to sleep.

Most of my life I have lived close enough to the railroad tracks to hear the trains that pass through at night. Their sounds have become a lullaby.

For a while I had a mobile home a few yards from the track. When the trains passed by, it was no gentle sound but a roar that shook the bed, but even so, you soon become accustomed to it, enjoy it even, and even sleep through it if you are already asleep.

For several years I lived far from the railroad, but close to the ocean.  In those years, I was comforted by the mournful sound of the fog horn on foggy nights, and by the sounds of the crashing surf on clear ones.

Once when traveling, I checked into a motel late at night, and clerk apologized for having only one room left, adjacent to the highway and the sound of trucks. He was right.  It sounded as if the trucks were coming right into the room.  But as soon as I realized that I was not going to be crushed in my bed, I managed to sleep well, with a new and different rock-a-bye. 

So trains and horns and trucks can become comforting sleep aids, but what do you folks who live far from tracks, highways, and ocean use for comfort sounds?