Odds and Ends No. 70


It is a bathrobe day.
It started on the way to choir
practice last night.

With a full weekend singing
schedule ahead of me, it is
my turn for the creeping crud.

I feel like an old Alka-Seltzer
TV commercial; I’ll spare you
the grizzly details as I knock

around my apartment like a
puck in a bumper game. Or
is it just my head?

When you are sick nothing
tastes right so I immediately
started my three “T” sick day

regimen. Tea, toast, and two
Tylenol. That would be hot,
sweet, and milky tea. And

back to basics white bread
toast to the burnt side with
margarine and grape spread.

Meds only today; the idea of
taking supplements in any
form or size is revolting.

When you are sick some things
sound good; normal food does
not. Like tuna. I gag at the

thought. But instant mashed
potatoes sound wonderful for
lunch with a touch of margarine,

salt, and pepper. It is the pork
sausage that I’d normally have
with it, that is causing me to

pause and think. Not sure on that.
And more hot tea of course. The
idea of coffee this morning seemed

metallic to me. So more tea. Maybe
if I leave out the mustard, I could
handle a sausage. I don’t even

want to think about food although
lunch is near. For those of you who
might think I’m on a Mac; I’m not.

I’m on my Yoga because I needed
to install a Vietnamese language
pack to continue work on my book.

Mac and I had a falling out.

Among other reasons, my gamer
has become my main laptop for
everything. I’m out from under

the insidious Apple umbrella and
back completely in my Google
and Windows world.

(Is there such a thing as Apple
and iPhone AA?)

The Mac force may be with you
but it will no longer draw me back
to the dark side.

A rotten 2017 slowed down my
editing process, but I’m back on
track now tweaking chapter six.

O well. Sausage followed by
sleep may work. Thank God for
hot tea and my old bathrobe.

 

Odds and Ends No. 67


It didn’t occur to me to have chocolate
for breakfast until this morning. You
see, I’m a purist at heart when it comes

to bagels. Can’t eat them every day. It
is hard enough to keep my weight down
as it is! This is my second Saturday in

my new place and Saturday breakfast is
a bagel. Once a week. So, I took one out
of the freezer. Popped it in the micro

for thirty seconds—thaws it enough to
slice with a bread knife for the toaster.
As I fixed a cup of instant coffee, it

came to me that I didn’t have any cream
cheese. How could I? Those containers
normally say, “Use within 10 days.” Well,
one bagel a week won’t work for that.

I may get around to doing bean coffee
in my old Bodum press, but I don’t have
a coffee maker now and don’t really

need one. Not interested in the one-cup
makers or the expense. So, anyway, the
bagel pops up. Don’t feel like butter;

butter is my backup. The idea of peanut
butter on a bagel made me gag. Then I
saw my little jar of Nutella! Bingo. Why

not? And there it is—a first for me.
Nutella on a bagel. Not bad at all. I
normally only have Nutella on a single

slice of toast to go along with a nice
hot bowl of oatmeal on those cold
winter mornings. Peanut butter toast

works well there too. It wouldn’t occur to
me to eat oatmeal in the summer. Since
I’m recovering from my move, etc., I

gave myself permission to goof off today.
I had light classical music playing in the
background most of the day. I installed

Windows 10 on my MacBook Pro and
played Halo and Oblivion until I couldn’t
see straight. And then I rebooted into

Boot Camp having decided that I didn’t
like Windows running on a Mac. Just
wasn’t right for me. There may be a

gaming PC in my future just so I can
play my old PC games! You’ll never guess
what made me think of that. Well, when

I was unpacking books, stuff, and more
stuff, there was a small zippered case.
It is like gold. I’ll never get rid of it.

It is a case of PC tools from back in the
day when we used to build our own box!
Motherboard, RAM chips, sound cards,

and you know, all those little screws.
Hence the famous “claw” tool to extract
the little things you dropped down into

the computer case while working. Time
will tell. Getting close to dinner time
now. Since there won’t be any PCs in

heaven, I may have to build one more!

Odds and Ends No. 53


Mark your calendar for it was a week
ago yesterday that I jumped ship. This
is the way it happened. My life has

been on hold lately. I had it with a lot
of things, but my raging computer wars
had to come to end. It was time! My

five-year old HP laptop couldn’t handle
it anymore—Windows or Linux. I felt
that to finish the book I’m writing and

meet publishing protocols, I have to
stay with Word. What worked for my
recent poetry book in print wasn’t

enough this time around. So, I was
thinking Windows 10. I seldom make
an emotional buy; I had to keep the

price down as things are tight. So, I took
it real slow. After search upon search,
I narrowed down the field. I was so sure

this was it, I shutdown Ubuntu for what
I hoped would be the last time, closed
the lid, and stuck it on the bottom of the

bookshelf in front of my desk. Looks like
a decorative paperweight. Plugged in.
Well, I was excited; I parked and walked

briskly in the 108° F heat into the massive
warehouse. I circled the computer area
several times. Didn’t see it. I watched as

other customers discussed computers with
sales persons. My laptop was not to be
found. Got to be a salesperson somewhere.

“Excuse me,” I mentioned to the nearest
clerk, “Are there PC’s anywhere else, is
this it?” “No, this is it,” he said, “The one

you are looking for is probably an online
buy only.” Oddly, every demo laptop was
running Windows 10 Home. Not one was

running Pro. I walked briskly back to my
car. The temp was up to 110° F. I thought,
“Could this be a sign? No more Windows for

me?” I started to pull out of the parking
lot. Left or right at the stop sign? Left
would take me home. What is to the right?

The mall. So, what is at the big shopping
mall that I never go to? The Apple Store.
I looked into my rearview mirror to make

sure there was no one behind me as I
paused to make up my mind. Clear. Good.
I looked at a few Macs but. But what?

A lot of “but’s”—and I’ve been a Windows
guy since DOS was king! I turned right.
I parked and entered the mall on the top

level. I had forgotten how huge this place
is! “Hey, bud, I thought there was an Apple
Store here?” “No problem. Take the

escalator down after the food court and
make a hard left, then left again; it will be
on your right. You can’t miss it.” Thanks!”

He was right. There it was with all its glass
doors in all its glory. And it was crowded on
a Monday! Kids everywhere. Another twenty

or thirty folks waiting for a class to begin. A
few old folks. Not many. I was playing with
a 13″ MacBook Pro with Function keys; not

the new strip. I’m color blind and thought
it and I wouldn’t get along. A salesperson
walked up to the kid next to me. In seconds,

Joe College bought an Air. Another sales-
person surfaced. As we greeted each other
I saw him glance at my forehead and smirk.

I must have been wearing a neon sign that
only he could see that flashed, “Windows
user, approach with caution.” He answered

all of my questions, but wouldn’t leave no
matter what I said. I stared at the Mac. And
it was more than sticker shock. It was more

than a switch from Windows to the Apple
OS. A decades old friend was slipping away.
Was I about to do the right thing? Also, I

couldn’t talk to anyone about it because I
left my phone in the car which was at the
other end of the mall! I was on my own.

This was it. “I’ll take this one in Space Gray.
2.3GHz and the smaller hard drive. Most of
my stuff is online anyway.” He politely

suggested a few add-ons. I politely declined.
I made up my mind to go trackpad, no mouse.
Nothing else. If a piece of bubble gum was

an add-on, I wouldn’t do it! One last try; I
looked up at the sales rep, “Any discounts?
Military? Old age? Green stamps?” He looked

at me funny, “You got a military ID?” “Yep!”
I walked out of the store carrying a new
MacBook Pro. I was a wreck, but I made it

back to my car. So, here it is about a week
later. Doing okay. Everything is set up. And
oddly, I feel that Office works better on the

Mac. (Microsoft is no fool!) I imported this;
I imported that and wham! Flawless data!
I’m not in Kansas anymore. My Windows

nightmares are over. I’m up and running!

So much so that a few days ago I called my
phone carrier, “Any iPhone deals; I can’t
afford a 6 or 7 and don’t really want a phone

bigger than my head.” She was brilliant!
“I got a refurbished iPhone SE.” Now, I have
a good-as-new iPhone SE. Holy Smokes!

With cool trackpad swipes and tons of great
keyboard shortcuts, I’m in heaven. “Beam me
up, Scotty!” Loving the keyboard. On top of

all of that, I gave Siri a female British accent.
I’m having fun and in love again. Can’t beat
that. I may have to watch Star Trek tonight.

Odds and Ends No. 49


Looks like it hit 119° F this afternoon.
I had a late lunch after my massage at
noon, so I’m eating a late dinner as

well. It is a little after seven. High
temperatures didn’t change much for
me. I made a simple ramen soup.

Chicken flavor. With peanut butter,
grape jelly, and a slice of Pepper Jack
on wheat bread. This is one of my

standard eat-by-myself meals and a
favorite of mine. The sweetness of the
jelly and the heat of the Pepper Jack

plus peanut butter being peanut
butter go well together. A little sweet.
And a little zing. Why the soup? Well,

In the hot summer months we keep
the house at 79° F during the day. Not
very cool, but cool enough for me that

soup is an easy choice for me all year
around. And, oddly, ramen noodles are
a substitute for a rice fix that I don’t

have as often as I’d like. Cooking for one
is no fun, so I don’t cook major meals as
much as I’d like. Windows Pro 10 had

installed a major upgrade. With Firefox,
Word, and Excel open at the same time,
I had a hunch that my CPU was running

hot. So, I installed Core Temp and
SpeedFan. Critical warning Core 0! I
promptly closed Excel. I returned to my

work in Word. About six warnings
followed in as many seconds. I closed
Firefox. Still too hot. I installed Chrome;

and uninstalled Firefox. When in doubt,
press restart. It got worse no matter
what I did. Software froze or wouldn’t

open. I saved my work in a nick of time,
as they say. Then, I held down the power
button. I closed the cover. My laptop

could be used as a hot plate. I let it sit
until the next day. The night was short.
My brain woke me up a little before four.

I installed openSUSE Tumbleweed again!
And I tweaked my book manuscript in
LibreOffice. Lunch came and went. And

here I am. I was so busy with this OS
mess this morning, I missed my second
cup of coffee and neglected to put it in

my thermos. I wanted something fresh,
flavorful, and strong. That is when I
remembered my espresso beans. One

cup for me at nine (We ate breakfast at
five.) and the rest in the thermos for
lunch. It made an excellent cup of

regular coffee just like the package
said. Not just for espresso. And the
hazelnut creamer made it amazing.

It looks like my trusty old laptop can’t
handle Windows anymore. I can’t be
OCD with operating systems anymore.

Core 0 is at 64° C; Core 1 is at 60° C.
Linux is it until my next laptop (which
is long overdue). Gets warm but not hot.

I didn’t need the computer drama, but
at least I’m back on track and writing
again. But wait! Windows 7 is good

until 2020. I’m thinking factory reset.
(Just kidding.) Paying for Office 365
and running Linux doesn’t make sense.

How about a clean Win 10 Pro install
without any other intruders? Tada!
Is this my next computer challenge?

 

Odds and Ends No. 45


I change my laptop operating systems
as often as some people change their
clothes. Not sure why. (I really don’t

want to know why. I’m sure it is a
sign of a major flaw. I don’t need to
know about any more of them; I have

my share.) Not walking today. I walked
Thunderbird two days in a row; the
temperature was 105° F both days. It

was excellent. I have to rest today as
I’m not sleeping as well as I would like.
(Doc appointment in July should fix

that.) When it is this hot I carry my two
banged up aluminum bottles as usual.
One fits in my belt carrier; the other

does not. I carry that one. A walking
stick in the other hand, changing mid
way. The third bottle, blue plastic, I

leave in the car while I walk. I fill all
of them with ice then water, but the
blue plastic bottle gets about half of

water that I drink on the way to the
parking lot. Ice melts completely in
the other two bottles on the walk.

I stop to change bottles about half
way. At the end of my walk there
might be half a bottle or less left.

And it is warm. So, when I get in my
car, I pour it over the ice in the blue
bottle. Voilà! I may not do things the

easy way, but it works for me. It is
a strange week. I think it was on
Monday. I ran to the bathroom

three times; and three times I
played Bejeweled Zen. (Let’s say
unplanned breaks.) I’m on level

forty-nine. Much too much of both
(Are you silently telling me to get a
life? I’ve been working on it for

years. Give me a break!) O do I need
sleep. I thank God for Flomax, but
I’m praying for an increase next

checkup. Or a miracle. Or both. The
air was still on both days with a
welcome gust of wind here and there.

The latest major Windows Pro update
was painless. CPU not running as hot
as it was before. Good thing.

Same goes for me. May or may not be
a good thing.

Odds and Ends No. 19


My lunch the other day is much
like the one for today. Maybe a
different cheese, but bologna is

still my standard lunch fare, if
you must know. I had made the
tea thinking it would stave off

hunger so I could eat later. I was
hoping to lunch later because I
didn’t want to eat before my

MRI of the brain at five. The
neck was added but they told me
they needed clarification from the

doctor’s office as the work order
was not clear as written. So, I
will have to come back next week.

Anyway, I decided to eat lunch
after I had made the tea. Hence,
my cover on the tea. If you think

my placeholder on the book is iron,
you are correct. It is a piece of iron
rod for concrete. Great paperweight.

It is impossible to eat lunch, drink
tea, and hold a book down at the
same time. (Possible, but annoying.)

(The photo is not an art form; it is
a blog aid, to help explain lunch.)
And yes, I did have radishes today;

added a few green olives. Swiss, no
provolone. Few variations. It could
have been coffee instead of tea, but

our Friday Wally coffee was so good
for breakfast we finished it. “Hi, your
car will be ready in about a half hour.”

The call we were waiting for. We made
another stop on our way to get the car.
We had to make sure her new Square

was working with her old phone and
her WiFi at her other work. Worked
fine. Pulled into the car repair. (Rush

hour traffic starts early on Friday’s.)
Now, why did I tell you all that? So you
know we took our time getting there.

“Where’s the car? I don’t see it.”

I didn’t see it either. I spotted a white
car, hood up, on a lift in the first bay.
Not ready it would seem. She elected

to stay in the car. I walked in. I listened.
For a number of good reasons, it would
be about another hour or so. I said no

problem; be right back. I walked back
outside to let her know. She left in my
car; I went back in to wait it out. Not

sure why but I keep on going back to
Trello. I can’t afford to subscribe. But
something inside is telling me to give

it another try. A voice really. I was
dreaming about Trello as I awakened
this morning. Boards were popping

in my head. My military mind said,
“This is not a drill.” I had six boards
made in under an hour this morning.

I cannot afford the bells and whistles.
I have to be creative in my design.
So, there I sat waiting for the car. No

book, no paper, only my phone. It
was Trello time. So, in between chats
(face-to-face, real talking with real

people) with the staff, I came up with
workarounds so I don’t need to use
“Power-Ups” to get my work done.

One power-up per board is okay; over
that, you have to subscribe. I can’t now.
Maybe someday if Trello works out for

me. Download your data? No-pay means
JSON; pay means CSV. Not too cool. Do
I really want to do this? I mean, store

all my data, tools, projects, references,
and you name it and have to pay to get
the data out again? Am I nuts? What

seemed like a great idea this morning
has turned into a “test” period. Some
days, I want to trash it all and return

to “manual’ methods, e.g., by-hand, Day
Timer, or a Moleskine bullet list in pencil.
The world has us in a strangle hold! We

are all the walking dead, walking around
with electronic nooses around our necks.
Did I waste another two hours of my life

today? Time will tell. Thank God, there
is no time in eternity, electronic or
otherwise. Go back to “The Source.”

Odds and Ends No. 8


I’m taking a break drinking a comforting
cup of Irish Breakfast tea at 16:16. Mug,
actually. And a few crackers with PB to

hold me until later. First time I sat down
today. It started this morning. Well, more
accurately, it didn’t start; that was the

problem. She looked sweet as can be at
a moderate bling level racing to the door
to get to work. I saw the garage door go

up. No car pulling out. I heard the door
open. “It won’t start.” I walked out in my
bathrobe and confirmed. “It won’t start.”

She took my car to work. After I shaved,
dressed, and was as fully awake as
possible for me these days, I tried the

car again. Tick, tick, tick, nothing. Called
our mechanic. We had a new starter last
summer. And new battery in 2015. The

Arizona desert is tough on batteries. I had
until mid to late afternoon to continue to
write. As it was, I continued to fight my

electronic computer wars! Exasperated in
that the mind map files that were fine in
Windows wouldn’t work in Linux.

Same software on both platforms. Every
detail about my book is laid out in a mind
map. I could use something else. Like my

brain. I fiddled around until noon. Time to
have lunch. I could eat the two ends of my
bread or eat her healthy sprouted bread.

I don’t know why, but when I think of her
bread, I think of Brillo pads. I used the two
ends. Two slices of bologna, one slice of

ultrathin Pepper Jack, spicy brown mustard,
three radishes, three green olives, and
another cup of Irish breakfast tea. Three

cookies, too! I read a few psalms to relax
then continued to read my Christmas gift.
Today I’m reading about the World War II
battle for Okinawa. I put my Michener tome

on hold for this fast read. Michener can
wait. I returned from Okinawa to my desk
to write. Flipped pages here and there, then

before I knew it, she was home. Car time.
Tried to jump it. No luck. Tick, tick. Dead.
The mechanic shop said. “Could be the

battery. But it could be the alternator or the
starter.” I was trying to avoid a tow charge
the day before payday. (Trying to avoid any

charge before tomorrow! Tea cup is empty.)
They are 20 miles away; rush hour is soon.
“If I bring the battery in, could you test it for

me.” They could. Now to get the battery out.
I found them in the bottom of my toolbox;
those metric sockets I’ve used only once or

twice since I bought them. I put the battery
in the trunk and carried it in when I got there.
He said, “Voltage is bad; dead cell.” I asked,

“How about the warranty?” His boyish face
looked up from the computer, “Expired last
month.” (That figures!) “Okay, how much?”

I was floored after he told me. I knew I could
do better, but I’d probably use the price
difference in gasoline. He added, “Plus, your

account shows a twenty-dollar credit!” As I
put the new battery into the trunk, it hit me.
The charge went through, but I forgot that

the account was low! Thank God for smart
phones. My account was showing a zero
balance. Yipes! I did a fast transfer. My

transfer and battery purchase were in electronic
la-la-land. I held my breath and checked the
balance again. I won! God is good. I was only a

penny short! God is never short. His resources
cannot be fathomed or measured. Thank you
Lord for your constant provision. Nurse called

a bit ago to tell me, “All the blood tests are
good; and the scan showed benign nodules
we’ll check again in six months.” See, God

has always provided for me. He’s got my back.
Thank you, Lord, for life another day. Blessed
is His Holy Name. (And I’m back in Windows.)