Monday, December 15, 2014

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

By Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
   Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
   That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
   And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
   Shall sweep the clouds no more!

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood
   Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood
   And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
   Or know the conquered knee;—
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
   The eagle of the sea!

O, better that her shattered hulk
   Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
   And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
   Set every thread-bare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,—
   The lightning and the gale!

The oldest commissioned warship in the world

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Think I Was Born Under A Lucky Star

The only problem is luck comes in two forms - good and bad.

A while ago I decided to try out my snowblower so it would be ready for the snow when it came. The starter rope broke.

No problem, I ordered another one - genuine Briggs and Stratton.

Took everything apart to get to the recoil starter so I could replace the rope. Can't quite get there because it requires removal of nuts holding it on and I am afraid there is much more tearing down necessary that I have neither the tools or the enthusiasm to deal with.

Maybe the sensible thing is to take it into a repair shop. The only problem is the astronomical charges.

Got a little snow and decided to try reassembling everything and to try starting the thing by tieing the broken ends together. Went along pretty good. No problems on reassembly.

Probably flooded it because it wouldn't start. No problem, just wait a while.

Had lunch and tried again. The knot did not hold. The one broken end is lost inside and all I have is a handle.

The rope is probably nylon so it probably would not stay tied even if I pulled everything apart again to get the loose end.

Trials and tribulations!

I suppose, in spite of the cost and the wait time, it is either the repair shop or the snow shovel this year.

It is really sad because I actually kind of enjoy clearing snow with the snow blower.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

73rd Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor Attack

December 7 marks 73 years since the attack on the Pearl Harbor aval Base by Japanese carrier planes.

There was a gathering of survivors and they were all in their 90s.

This was one of those completely unforgettable moments for people at the time and launched the US into World War II.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Musings on Colorblindness

A short time ago a friend who was ill asked me to pick up some sets of sheets. She wanted light blue or possibly a light beige.

So when I got to the store I easily found a light blue set. The package was clearly marked as light blue. Easy enough for me. I can sometimes get confused between blue and purple but the label made sure I was on safe ground.

She did want two or three sets and I did not think three blue was a very good idea. Anyway, there was only one blue in her size.

Other colors available were black, red and yellow which were not on the wish list.

She already had a light green set so I figured light brown or tan would be a natural choice.

Brown and green for a person with red-green colorblindness can be very difficult to distinguish. On top of this, rather then simply identifying the colors as brown or green or whatever they decided that pretty names like sagebrush and hawthorn were much more attractive. You can not understand how frustrating this can be.

I once bought a suit that I just made up my mind was the perfect brown suit I needed. It looked perfect to me and I did not have the basic common sense to ask someone else what the color was. Needless to say when I got it home and finally figured out it was green it never left the hanger. Not even on St. Patrick's Day. I was too embarrassed to admit my mistake.

At least with the bedding I had the sense to ask a salesperson when I finally found one.

I really wish there was some sort of device available that you could hold up to a shirt or whatever and would display a simple name of the color. Or you could hold near a car and it would tell you it was red rather than candyapple or whatever.

I am not talking about a scientific instrument like a fabric colorimeter. What I am looking for is something that will average the value over an area to give a simple one word description so it would work for things like plaids, patterns, or things like metallic finishes.

Something simple you could point and click to get results while shopping or browsing.

Maybe a cellphone app that uses the camera and averages the color over an area would be useful and handy. Just make sure it resolves into basic colors like red, green, blue, brown and forget marketing wonders like mocha, azure and whatever.

The relief that a simple device like this would provide would be tremendous. Whether it would be a single purpose color detector or a cell phone app is not important.

What is important is the sense of relief it would give to 10% of the male population and 1% of the female population that sees colors in a little different way than the rest of the population.

All I have found so far are industrial testers and a few complicated looking things including cell phone apps.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

That Cricket Again

One thing I have heard over and over is to change the batteries on the smoke detectors when you change the clocks for Daylight Savings Time!

You would think I would learn.

At least I wasn't completely fooled this time like I was a couple of years ago.

I still laugh about my silly mistake:

Being previously informed I went right after the smoke detectors and sure enough it was the upstairs one that was serenading me every now and then.

Talk about learning the hard way. At least I saved a lot on bug spray this time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This Is For The Birds!

In my previous post I described the cold feeling in the house with the furnace disabled.

In the process of finding the cause of the problem the remains of two birds were found in the chimney outlet from the furnace. I guess how they got in there will remain a mystery but the chimney outlet was plugged.

After the birds were cleaned out it was found the blower motor was not working. What next?

The maintenance guy replaced the start capacitor and everything seems to be ok.

Who ever heard of birds disabling a furnace?

I was thankful again that it is not deepest Winter!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Things Are A Bit Chilly In Here Right Now

What do you do when you start to get out of bed in the morning and notice it is quite a bit cooler than usual?

Only one logical solution - pull up the covers again and think this over.

I then checked a register. The air was cool.
I checked the furnace as it blew all sorts of cool air through the house.
I checked the thermostat and turned it way up - just in case.

Nothing except continually dropping temperatures.

Time to be a little thankful - it is not Winter so there is no problem with the pipes freezing - only me getting chilled.

Shut off the furnace to stop it from pushing cool air around the house. Also noted that the chimney pipe was cold. Not a good sign.

Called for help.

A couple of hours later in conversation with the maintenance man he told me he had checked the thermostat and igniter and no luck so far. Has to get some parts and would return later or early tomorrow.

I do have electric heaters running in my bedroom and the bathroom so I think I will survive. Again thankful it is only in the upper 40s or low 50s outside so the heaters are helping a little. I really would like to expand my horizons beyond the bedroom and bathroom though.

So as I move into the future it is nice to have some really significant immediate goals. Forget about world politics. Forget about the national debt. Just warm it up a little bit right here!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gaelic Proverb?

Some people make things happen,
some watch things happen
and some wonder what happened.

I thought this was worth remembering. It is also ascribed to a couple of recent authors in one form or another but the Gaelic proverb seems the earliest and most likely to be first.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Interesting How Things Pop Up

It is very seldom you can place yourself as to where you were and what you were doing at a particular date and time a long time ago.

All of a sudden I realized that I got married on this date Sept.6, 1969. It was a Saturday too.

Years after a divorce and with many losses in the families the reminders just are not there any more. I am probably the only person who is aware of this date any more. 45 years is a bit of time and this is not something that is in the front of anyone's mind.

Life is full of peaks and valleys and this was a definite peak. It was definitely a good experience for all involved, I believe.

There is a definite tendency to dwell on what could have been but life is not like that. It just happens and we live it. Probably quite a few peaks and valleys to cross yet.

It is always interesting - not to be a Pollyanna but in good ways if you let it be.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Schools Are Opening And All's Right With The World

The normal things are happening around here and that is one of the best signs.

Schools are starting. Buildings are being built. It is good when things stay the same about most things.

The headlines about wars in other parts of the world belong in other parts of the world. A big part of our need for government is for safety and consistency. Let us get on with our lives without needing to worry about idiots trying to blow up buildings.

I do not know what most of them hope to gain anyway. You still live and die and pay taxes no matter who is in charge. Keep the government as unobtrusive as possible while still doing its job.

You should not even completely stop people from making mistakes. Mistakes can turn into innovations in the right circumstances. Who really knows until it all works itself through?

So let the dummy have his way as long as it does not hurt some one else.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In The Blink Of An Eye

Today is the big day of the eye examination. It happens every couple of years.

You look at a little house in a field. Then you look at a spot and they blow air into your eye.

Nothing much to it.

You look at a row of letters with each eye and then you look at them again through a bunch of different lenses.

Finally you get drops in the eyes and after a while get another examination..

If you are lucky and your eyes have changed you get to pick some new frames and lenses  to look through.

I actually got an added benefit - genuine Polaroid to cover my eyes when I walked outside because my eyes were dilated from the drops and the glare can be pretty intense.

Not bad for about an hours time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Are There

This was one of my favorite programs in the 1950s: It took a historical event and inserted a modern newsroom and reporters to report on it.

You Are There

The programs were great and at the end of the program, after Cronkite summarizes what happened in the preceding event, he reminded viewers, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... all things are as they were then, and you were there.":

On to where I am now. It is starting out as a nice day. Maybe thundershowers later but for now - great.

...And I am there!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Disbelief About Time

Here it is Sunday night already and the 4th of July weekend is almost over.

I remember when I was little how impatient I was for things to happen. Time seemed to just creep along.

Now I think about something and all of a sudden it is over. It never fails.

There is one good aspect to this though. I do tend to get tired of Christmas music rather rapidly each year and before you know it the 6 months or so of commercials is over before you know it. Same thing for snowstorms and other weather things. Before you know it they are over.

Maybe that is why I am acquiring grouch tendencies. No significant holidays. Anybody got any ideas?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Day To Remember?

Not really so far...
  • This afternoon
  • Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 4pm. Cloudy, with a high near 84. Breezy, with a southwest wind 18 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
  • TonightShowers and thunderstorms likely, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after midnight. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Low around 68. Southwest wind 13 to 18 mph decreasing to 7 to 12 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
This is really just a normal un-noteworthy summer day.

It is kind of nice right now. Not too much hot sunshine to deal with. It is just nice for a walk and a wander through the back yard.

Roses are past their peak and the day-lilies have not flowered just yet. Kind of an in-between time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Password Changes

Ebay is the latest company I have heard from that is asking people to change their passwords.

You really have to be concerned about this sort of thing because it seems to be getting more frequent.

You are told to watch for charges on your bill that you did not make. Fine, but who knows what are legitimate bills or not with all the mumbo-jumbo that appears on the statements. A company with a certain name can be billing under some totally unrelated seeming corporate name and scanning a list, who can be sure? Then take automatic payments and what are you supposed to think. The wonders of the electronic age!

I have so many different passwords that the only way I can keep track is by using a password manager. I have the pro version of Roboform and it is a lifesaver. It is free up to 10 passwords but with all my surveys and other stuff I probably have well over a hundred. It is also pretty good at filling in forms where you are constantly putting in things like your name, address, email and so forth. It is really handy at keeping track of password changes.

Over the years I have had a few issues with the program but nothing serious or unresolvable, just aggravating. This would probably be the case with anything so I just go along with it.

I can not see the security situation improving in the foreseeable future. Security systems and hackers are both improving their capabilities so you just have to protect yourself as best you can.

Friday, May 2, 2014

IE8&9 Security

Internet Explorer had a security hole someone discovered recently. It was so serious that there were a number of advisers who suggested switching to another browser until Microsoft fixed it.

The fix went in last night. My IE9 on Vista was patched automatically last night.

Surprisingly when I checked an old computer I still have XP and IE8 on, there was a patch for that too. Microsoft did not abandon the millions who still have XP installed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Peter B. Porter

Peter Porter looks like he was a very active person.

This is a location on Niagara Street near Auburn. It is a quite historic area along the Niagara River.

Fascinating article on Buffalo and Black Rock competition.

Friday, March 14, 2014

If You Don't Take Care

I heard this saying "If you don't take care of yourself someone else will."

This really covers a lot of territory.

  • If you are sick you don't take care of yourself because you can't so if it is severe you need a doctor.
  • If you drink or are addicted you need support to get off it or legal help or someone eventually to bury you.
  • If you just do not feel like doing things you probably need psychiatric or social help.
  • If you do not take care of your education you probably will need government programs to survive.
  • If you are not conscious of your diet needs you will need diet help, medical help or help with your burial at an early age.
There are a lot of people who make a lot of money telling us what to do because we don't take care of ourselves sensibly.

Isn't it degrading putting up with the dehumanizing aspects of applying for and using foodstamps. Welfare because we cannot get hired is brain numbing.

It is not usually your fault if you get cancer but you are in for an experience of dependence on doctors.

All that matters is that you don't take care of yourself whether it is because you can't or won't. What you end up doing is losing a serious chunk of your freedom. The ability to choose is seriously diminished.

Go back to some sort of school. Get rid of the debt and put away a rainy-day-fund. Shape up!

Unless you are totally buried in self deception or denial you have a chance. Unless you are terminal you have options.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We Have Snow!

It is 6:45 pm and it has been snowing all day.

I am planning to plow some snow before it gets dark.

A guy across the street was out plowing a little while ago. A buddy of his was watching and his little pre-school daughter was there with two dogs.

The daughter was running around and getting dumped in snow piles. She was having a ball.

The dogs were both running all over and getting shot at by the snow from the snow blower. They were actually running in front of it to get sprayed more by the snow.

I think everyone is going to sleep very well tonight.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Cold Drags On

I was shocked when I saw that the temperature at my usual departure time was only 3 degrees.

I have always been someone who has enjoyed the winter weather. Everything seems so white and nice when we get some snow. All the defects are covered up and the world seems clean and new.

I have had a snow blower for a couple of years now and the thing works just great now that I have learned most of the idiosyncrasies. It is actually fun to go out and clear the snow.

Really though, I do think we have had enough of these good times. A little warm-up would be appreciated.

Leave the polar vortexes and Calgary Clippers for another year. I really think I have had enough for this year. Bring on the lawn mower!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Think It Is Winter

The past two years have been quite mild around here.

This year seems to be making up for it though. We have been having pretty cold weather and a pretty good amount of snow to go along with it. This is for Kenmore, NY 14217:

It is supposed to "warm up" to the 20s later in the week but more snow is predicted.

I do not really mind the snow but sub-zero and windy conditions take all the fun out of it.

At least the snow blower is working pretty good. It is still fun using that.

Monday, January 6, 2014

An Evenings Entertainment

The tv does not really interest me and there is only so much interest in staring at a computer screen.

Tonight is a good night for other things.

I dropped a bouillon cube in a cup and filled it with hot water. I then walked to the front door and let myself become transfixed by the scene outside. There is not a large amount of snow. In fact you can still see little patches of bare concrete on the sidewalks.It is 5 degrees though and breezy. It is dark and just lit by streetlights and some Christmas decorations.

The wind is blowing right down the street and blowing the snow sort of like it would sand in a sandstorm. There are waves of snow whipping past the house. It is just like a movie of the far north. There is like a mist of ice crystals in the air.

Gee I am glad I am in here and not out there.

I really have a snug, warm and secure feeling watching the world go on around me. It is quite relaxing.