Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Disease and Death

At last, some relatively seasonal weather, or at least something that meets community standards that have been steadily lowering ("At least I have haven't had to scrape frost.") Blustery and cool beats snow, tornadoes and flooding.

I've been perusing our recently acquired new cable channels, and one in particular doesn't thrill me, that being the change of Fit TV to Discovery Fit and Health. I wasn't a big watcher of Fit TV (all workouts, all the time) but the new channel seems to be mostly freak shows, some with the word actually in the name ("Freaky Eaters"). Really large or incredibly small people, hoarders, ER oddities, people with gigantic tumors or other rare diseases....if there's an odd medical or psychological condition, it's on there. A co-worker asked me what purpose these shows serve, and I had to admit I hadn't thought about it, and couldn't think of anything legitimate. I suppose they can classified as either there-but-for-the- grace-of-God-go-I or the point-and-ridicule group, depending of your level of sympathy. Either way it seems a bit unseemly for the Discovery Networks.

My daughter recently went through one of those life experiences we all face at some point, though not usually this soon; the death of a friend, in this case sadly at only 20yo of liver disease. They had been pretty close in junior high and high school. The friend had moved to Sioux Falls after graduation, so we didn't know about the illness, which added to the shock. The poor girl had a hard life, with a father who molested her and her siblings as youngsters and a mother who was so ineffectual that the children were taken away for a year and (as I understand it) only given back to the mother after she had left him. (Frankly, I doubt the wisdom of that return. I only met the mother once, but I wouldn't trust her to feed a fish.) Even then the girl was the glue that held the household together, which is no way to grow up. She had been planning on becoming a chef when I last talked to her a couple of years ago, before the disease. Sometimes it seems some people are born under a cloud.

Technological Leap Frog

To my seemingly endless list of reasons to neglect this humble blog, I can now add equipment failure. A few days ago I pushed the start button and was greeted with only a blinking light and eventually not even that. After a brief bout of classic temporary insanity during which I repeated the same procedure hoping for a different result, I unhooked everything and took the computer to a trusted repair shop, where a diagnosis of power supply failure was reached and a new one installed at relatively low expense.

During the two days it was at the shop I naturally did some shopping for a replacement should it have been necessary, and I was reminded of the constant growth of the capability of PCs, especially in hard drive capacity. Basic units have hard drives that dwarf the one in the ancient PC I'm using, which itself is only about at 1/3 capacity. I frankly don't know what I would do with so much memory, since I'm not a big game player and I don't store a lot of video.

I mentioned this to my professional IT brother and he said something that brought back memories. He noted that even basic software takes up a lot more memory that it used to, and that Windows 7 is noteworthy as a storage hog. I couldn't help but chuckle at this, since I'd been dealing with that since the dawn of PC time, when companies such as Osborne and Victor still roamed the landscape and Bill Gates was not yet sleeping in pajamas made of money.

There has always been the chicken-or-egg question: was hardware growth necessitated by software demands, or did software swell because the hardware allowed it? Looking back, I think it tended to be first the latter, then the former. Software developers used all the available abilities of the hardware, which induced manufacturers to build better equipment to allow better performance, which created room for software to grow, repeat to this day.

Of course, it wasn't and still isn't as sequential as that. Often someone in one camp jumps in front; HP has long been putting huge-for-the-time hard drives into their computers, and game companies often seemed to have products in their warehouses waiting for a computer that could handle them, although that has become less frequent as custom gaming machines have come back. (I wonder what the old Atari people think about the rise of Wii, Playstation, etc.? Having others stand on your shoulders is often uncomfortable.) I suppose it will eventually level off, but at what point is hard to say.

Monday, April 18, 2011

As Long As It's Crunchy

I went to see what Chairman Bill had to say about the upcoming royal wedding, and found this.

Not having his glasses to hand, the Chairman blindly grabbed a nearby open Tupperware box into which he put the bacon bits before taking it outside to scatter on the salad.

Later, when Hay and the Chairman were doing the washing up, Hay enquired how the Tupperware box for the cat’s kitty crunchies had gotten into the washing up.

Anyway, the upshot is that kitty crunchies make excellent and economical salad croutons and no-one can tell the difference.

I find that unreasonably funny. I must say,however, that I'm not sure of the economical part of that statement, based on what I've seen of cat food prices versus those of human food.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blow, Indeed

Charlie Sheen's Tour of something-or-other continued in Chicago after complete disaster in Detroit. Jeffrey Sconce was there to see Sheen try to get back off the canvas. (via Faith in Honest Doubt)

...I felt deep inside the faintest stirrings of a long lost sensation that I believe I once called "shame"--as if I had just been caught emerging from a brothel / geek show / monster truck pull.

Sad,sad,sad....but equally unsurprising. Also unsurprising is that two drug recognition experts I know, when asked what they think Sheen is on, said without hesitation "cocaine".

Monday, April 4, 2011

Expression, High and Low

To some people I would be considered a Renaissance man - that is, someone from the 14th through the 17th centuries. I have neither a Twitter account nor a Facebook page. This humble blog and an e-mail account constitute my Internet presence. I do not own a movable music-playing device unless you count the radio - with a cassette player, no less - in my car. My chief electronic medium for entertainment and information is the antediluvian television, which I first encountered in black-and-white. My primary telephone still makes use of wires running to my house, some of which I connected myself. A cellular telephone does reside here, but it is used almost entirely by my wife when we're on the road. I have been told it has picture-taking capability but I have never bothered to investigate.

All of which is a very long way of explaining why I have no pictures of the objects I recently encountered. Both are another ancient form of communication; signs stuck to the backs of cars. The first was on the back of a vehicle behind which I was parked while waiting for my daughter. It was in the shape of a ribbon of the "Support the Troops" style, but white with a red border, and it said "Support Farting". This one induced more thought than it probably should have, probably a result of it being right in the line of sight for period of time.

My standards for humor are fairly low, but this perplexed me. It's not clever, and it's not disgusting enough to elicit a wince. I sat there trying to imagine the type of person of sufficient age to own and operate a motor vehicle who would not only consider it amusing but worth purchasing (sadly, there are a number of retailers) and publicly displaying. Then the driver of the vehicle came out of the building, and I must say that except for being slightly older he pretty much perfectly fit the stereotype I had formed, at least in appearance. I didn't consider asking him about it; it didn't seem prudent.

The second vehicle I encountered - at a stoplight - was completely different. It actually had two stickers. The one on the left said "Freedom of Religion Means ALL Religions". The one on the right said "Born Again Pagan". The license plate indicated the vehicle was from Brookings County, home to SDSU and thus slightly more likely to be a location for such thought. Still, a display of that type isn't something seen frequently in South Dakota, at least by me. Based again on a quickly-formed stereotype, and without being able to see the driver, I wish this had been the vehicle I had been parked behind. I would likely have tried to strike up a conversation. I'd like to think it would have been interesting.