Saturday, October 28, 2017

Georgia Florida

I went to the Georgia-Florida game today. It wasn't the first one I went to. I took my oldest grandson today. It was his first Georgia-Florida game.

My first Georgia-Florida game? 1980. Georgia was undefeated and ranked Number 2 going in to the game. Number 1 Notre Dame tied Georgia Tech that day, meaning with a win, Georgia would be ranked Number 1 for the first time in my life.

I managed to secure tickets to the game and took my girlfriend, her mom, and her brother to the game. And, it was something. They didn't call it The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for nothing.

Georgia was down 21-20 with just over a minute left. Third and 12 at their own 8. Then a miracle happened.


[The YouTube]

Here's the whole game if you want to watch it.

Georgia went on to finish undefeated, winning the national championship after beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. I went to that game, too. But that's a story for another day.

Good times. And today was good, because I got to spend it with my grandson at a football game. The score doesn't matter. Being with him, that's what matters.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Movies Anywhere

Some time back, I downloaded the Disney Movies Anywhere app to my devices. That means I had it on my iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV. I didn't use it a lot, but I could use it. That's the point.

I liked it because it allowed my to purchase Disney content on one service and play the content on a device that didn't support the service. Let me explain so you can see why this is a big deal.

Device and Service Fragmentation


Note that I'm only focusing on set-top boxes, not phones and tablets, although some of what I'm saying would apply to those devices. There is less fragmentation in mobile devices. However, I generally do not use a mobile device to watch TV.

So, if you buy something on iTunes, you can only play it back on an Apple TV or an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod). You can't play it back on a Roku.

If you buy something on Amazon, you can only play it back on a device that supports the Amazon Video app. That means you can't play it on Apple TV, since there is no Amazon Video app for Apple TV.

If you buy something on VUDU, you can only play it back on a VUDU app. And that meant no Apple TV until they released the updated device two years ago (I've been streaming for almost seven years).

And, if you bought something on Google Play, you could only play it back on a device that supported Google Play. There's still no Google Play app for Apple TV.

Even when the service has an app for all the devices -- something that only VUDU had -- you had to open that particular app to play the content. For example, I bought Forbidden Planet on Amazon because Amazon had it for a good price. That meant I could not watch it on Apple TV, but I could watch it on Roku or Fire TV. But, on Roku, I had to open the Amazon Video app to watch it.

I bought Raiders of the Lost Ark on iTunes, because they had it on sale. That meant I could only watch it on Apple TV, and not on Roku.

I bought Star Trek movies on VUDU. I got them for around $2 each at the time, which was a deal I didn't want to pass up. However, I could only watch them on the VUDU app and that was only on Roku.

So, depending on what I wanted to watch, I would have to switch devices, or apps within the same device. I was not able to have all my content on the same device and in the same app library.

Disc to Digital


Oh, one thing that I really like about VUDU is their feature called Disc to Digital. That's a program that allows me to take a DVD that I had purchased and add it to my digital library. You can find more about it here.

Not everything I own on DVD will convert, but a lot will. It's $2 per movie, or $5 if you want to upgrade to HD (keep in mind that DVDs are not in HD). That's where most of my VUDU content comes from, actually.

Disney Enters The Picture


A little while back, Disney launched an app called Disney Movies Anywhere. That meant I could buy Disney content on a service limited to one device, but watch it on an otherwise unsupported device. For instance, I could buy Cinderella on Amazon Video and watch it on any device, even a device that didn't support Amazon.

This was only true for Disney content, but that was at least better than it had been before. I had purchased Disney content through both Amazon and iTunes, but the Disney Movies Anywhere app let me watch it on any of my devices. I liked that.

Shortly afterwards, it got even better. Disney content purchased through Amazon began showing up in my iTunes library. And Disney content purchased through iTunes began showing up in my Amazon library. It meant that I could simply go to my regular content library on a device and watch any of my Disney content.

The only way it could get better would be if it also worked for other studios.

Now it does. Not all, but there are now more studios supported.

Disney Movies Anywhere becomes Movies Anywhere


The change to the app is more than a name change. Movies Anywhere expands to include more studios.
Movies Anywhere features a wide range of films from Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. At this time, movies from non-participating studios such as Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM are not eligible and will not migrate to your Movies Anywhere library. As Movies Anywhere evolves, we will continue to add more content partners.
This means that I now have a lot more of my content in one place. Not everything. Not most, in fact. But a lot.

Putting It All Together


Under the new Movies Anywhere setup, my content for Disney, Sony, Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. is now available in my iTunes library and my Amazon library. That's very convenient.

Now, to be sure, not everything gets combined in the libraries. I have several hundred iTunes purchases, but less than half actually are available in Amazon. That's because the studios for those aren't part of the Movies Anywhere service. This is also true of the Disc to Digital service.

Recently, I pulled out 14 DVDs I had purchased and added them to VUDU through Disc to Digital. Only eight of them were added to Movies Anywhere. The other six? Non-participating studios.

So, if you have purchased content from multiple sources, and would like to be able to access the content from a single source, I'd suggest trying Movies Anywhere. The app is free, and after you set it up, the content libraries will merge -- with the caveat being participating studios.

I like it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Invisible flying pinch bugs

I mentioned recently about stopping for gas and an unusual encounter at the pump. There were actually two unusual encounters.

When I got out of the car, there was a large bug on the ground. I don't know what it was. It was kinda like a North American Stag Beetle, but it was the color of the concrete, and the mandibles were very wide. Really wide. I could see it, but it didn't stand out. Kinda blended in. Hard to see. So, nothing like a North American Stag Beetle. Except for being a large bug. With huge mandibles.

Well, I stepped over the bug and closed the door, then proceeded to gas up. You already know how that went.

When I finished, got my receipt, pocketed it, and stepped back to the door, I didn't see the large bug. Good. Or, so I thought.

During the next 15 minutes or so, I mulled over if I had done the right thing regarding the praying panhandler. I decided I had. That's when something seemed to fall onto my shirt.

Now, I am sometimes guilty of putting stuff over the visor in the car, but I didn't think I had done that. Still, something seemed to have fallen from the visor. I wondered what it was. It was dark in the car, 4:00-4:30 time frame, and no other traffic on the road. A little bit of light from the dashboard, but that was it. I couldn't really see anything on my shirt, and I wasn't going to take my eyes off the road for any period of time.

I'm in the middle of nowhere, on a four-lane road, 65 MPH, no traffic, and the possibility of deer, as I was very much aware. So, without being able to see it, I grabbed whatever it was that had settled on my shirt.

It grabbed back.

That's not a feeling you want to experience when you're driving 65 MPH in the middle of nowhere on a road with curves and bridges.

I threw whatever it was down. I realized almost immediately, of course, it was that large bug I had encountered at the gas pump. Seems it had made its way into the car either during the time I stepped over it and before I shut the door, or surreptitiously while I re-entered the car. Either way, there was a large bug in the car, somewhere under my feet.

Okay, then. Maybe I'll stop for something to drink or a snack up the road. Breakfast at a McDonald's maybe. I'll locate and extract the large bug at that time. Then, it flew from the floor beneath my feet to the passenger seat where I had laid my jacket.

This simply would not do.

I pulled over into a turn lane. The four-lane was divided by a large grass median -- about three full lanes wide -- and had the occasional turn-round lane on the left where one could pull into it, then make a u-turn when traffic was clear.

I stopped the car, put it in park, put the flashers on in case a vehicle happened by, put my holster on -- I don't wear it when driving but have it at hand -- and exited the vehicle. I walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, picked up the jacket and shook it, looking for the bug.

No bug.

I pulled out my phone, turned the flashlight on, and began looking though the car.

Nothing.

So, I'm standing beside the road around 4:30 in the morning with an invisible flying pinch bug loose in the car. Now, I'm wondering what the trade-in value is on the car.

After a few more minutes, I finally found the large pinch bug on the floor behind the driver's seat. I grabbed a loose Wendy's napkin -- I don't remember ever hitting a Wendy's drive-thru since I got that car, but that's a mystery for another time -- and picked up the bug and tossed it away from the car.

He didn't like that, and came straight back for the car. My foot put an end to the whole sordid affair.

I left the body just laying there, as a warning for other invisible flying pinch bugs. I am not to be trifled with.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Praying at the gas pump

My schedule has me traveling at early morning hours on some days. That means, depending on how well I planned things, I may be getting gas at 4:00 AM some days. I don't like those days.

Last week, I had one of those days. It was a Wednesday morning, it was the 4:00 hour -- that 0400 not 1600 -- and I pulled in to a gas station to get gas. Made sure I had everything in order, got out, and started the process to gas up.

I'm dressed in my standard work attire: dress pants, dress shoes, dress shirt, tie, jacket. My wallet is in my jacket pocket on my left side. Right next to my .380 in its holster. When I pulled in, I checked the lot and the area around the station, which was situation on the corner. It's on the outskirts of town, and there is wooded area nearby, so caution is always advised at off hours. 4:00 AM is an off hour.

Put the credit card in the slot -- first checking for a skimmer, of course -- enter my ZIP code, select the fuel type, and begin the process of gassing up the ride. Now the waiting. And that's when I made my mistake.

I don't carry money in my wallet. I don't carry a lot of cash, but what little I do carry is separate from my wallet. As I waited for the fuel to fill the tank, I put my hand in my pocket. My cash was in disarray. Normally, it's neatly arranged by denomination -- ones on top, followed by fives, tens, and twenties, if I am carrying those bills. All neatly stacked, and all facing the same way. It's easier for me that way. Only, when my hand went into my pocket, the cash wasn't neatly stacked. Nor sure what happened, but that was unacceptable. What I did was more unacceptable.

I pulled the cash out and sorted the few bills I was carrying. Lined them all up -- that was the major issue; some were sideways -- and put the cash back in my pocket. That mistake allowed two things to happen:
  1. I took my eyes off my surroundings
  2. I allowed other eyes to see I was carrying cash
There were other eyes, as I became aware just after putting the rearranged cash back in my pocket.

"Good morning," came the voice.

I turn my head slowly, saw the young man approaching from the road. I nodded my head, "Good morning, sir."

As I turned back to finish pumping the gas, he spoke again. "Do you mind if I pray with you?"

Just in case you're not aware, if someone approaches you at a gas station and asks to pray, he's probably not a traveling evangelist, but rather someone looking for money. Even if he is a traveling evangelist, he's still someone looking for money. I wasn't in the mood for whatever he had going on.

I looked back at him, "You don't need me for you to pray." I turned back to my task, checking to ensure my jacket was open for easy access to my .380, if needed. You never know how someone reacts to something unexpected. I don't think he expected my response.

His path turned from directly approaching me to one of heading to his right, down the road away from the gas station.

"Jesus love you. He loves you." the young man said as he walked away, keeping an eye on me.

I nodded.

Jesus does love me. But I don't think he's too keen on people using His name for panhandling.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hulu with Live TV

Since I cut the cord in early 2011, I've tried several different ways to get certain content on TV. Sports is what I'm talking about.

I like college football. When I cut the cord in 2011, I waited until after the college bowl season was done. I had purchased a Roku in 2010, but kept cable until after football season because there was no other way to watch the games from home.

Thankfully, that's no longer the case. For sports, I've tried Sling TV ($25/month for package and add-on with all ESPN channels), DirecTV Now ($50/month for package with all ESPN channels), and PlayStation Vue ($45/month for a package with all the English language ESPN channels). Best price is Sling TV for what I want.

Right now I'm trying a different service: Hulu.

Okay, it's the Hulu with Live TV service. That's Hulu, but with Live TV. Which puts Hulu as another service similar to Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue.

Hulu is normally $8/month. That's been serving as my "cable service" since 2011. Recently, they added a Live TV service. It's $40/month. Not an additional $40/month, but it works out to an additional $32/month.

On the face of it, it still looks like Sling TV is a better deal because Hulu and Sling TV together totals $33/month ($8/month + $25/month) as opposed to $40/month. But things are never that simple.

All of the live TV services has problems. They're buggy. They will buffer a lot. It's nearly impossible to watch a game on any of those services, in my experience. So, I use the service to authenticate against the ESPN app (or the WatchESPN app, depending on the platform). The ESPN app is much more stable for live streaming than those live TV service apps.

As for what channels these services offer, here's a chart provided by Roku. It has a few flaws, such as the same channel listed twice (ESPN2 vs ESPN 2, TCM vs Turner Classic Movies, etc).

So, for now, it's $7/month more for Hulu with Live TV vs Hulu and Sling TV. But, I get two streams with Hulu Live TV vs Sling TV's 1 stream (unless I want their $40 four-stream service). I also get more app authentications.

For your purposes, is Hulu with Live TV a good deal? I don't know. I will say that it offers support for more apps than Sling TV does. The downside is Apple TV-related. Sling TV supports Single Sign On, while none of the other services support it.

I may keep this one. This is the first service to threaten Sling TV's position as my go-to service for accessing sports.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane

Yes, there's a hurricane coming this way. This one might be trouble.

Of course, I've been through hurricanes before. The last hurricane that came this close, I went to a football game.


[The YouTube]

I was at that game. Want proof? I'm in this picture.



Wait. Here's a better picture.


[Photo credit: Georgia Southern Athletics]

Did you find me?



I'll probably stay inside for this one.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Satire News Sites Sue ESPN Over Intellectual Property Infringement

ESPN reporter Robert Lee
ATLANTA (AP) -- Several satirical news Websites have file suit in federal court in Atlanta against ESPN alleging the sports network has infringed on their intellectual property. The suit comes days after ESPN announced that the network was removing reporter Robert Lee from the University of Virginia home game on September 2.

Kurt Mueller, COO of The Onion, said that the network's actions are "a clear infringement of The Onion's intellectual property. This should be an open and shut case. After all, when news of Mr. Lee's reassignment was announced, social media exploded with questions asking if it was a post on The Onion." The topic was trending on Facebook and Twitter.

The Onion was joined in the lawsuit by news satire Websites Weekly World News, Babylon Bee, DuffleBlog, and others. Paul Szoldra of DuffleBlog explained, "While we focus on satirical news from the military standpoint, an infringement against mainstream humor is an infringement against us all."

Weekly World News spokesman Bat Boy said "The lawsuit speaks for itself." Babylon Bee's Adam Ford added, "Yeah, what he said."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

https

I received an email from Google last week. I'm not sure what to make of it. Let me first take a minute and give you some idea of how Google and this little blog are intertwined.

The domain name of this blog, basilsblog.com, is registered with Google Domains.

This blog is hosted by Google, via their Blogger platform.

I could register the domain elsewhere, and I could host it somewhere else, but Google's reliability and pricing are hard to beat.

One other thing that isn't directly blog related, but worth noting is that Google also has a Web browser that is quite popular, called Chrome.

Oh, and there's a thing called Google Search Console which offers tools that can be handy in checking out and improving your Website. You don't have to be hosted at Google to use Google Search Console.

Got all that? Good.

Now, that email I got from Google. It's from Google Search Console, actually. It said:


Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as <input type="text"> or <input type="email">) that will trigger the new Chrome warning.
So, I it would be a good idea to enable https on the blog, right? Only...

Warning: HTTPS is currently not available for custom domain blogs.
Which means that, as long as I'm hosted at Google on their Blogger platform, and have my own domain name, I can't enable https.

So, all together, this means that Google is warning me that I don't have https enabled on my Website that they host and don't allow https for Websites like mine.

Catch-22? Maybe. Or maybe I need to move back to another platform and host for this little blog. Which I don't really want to do.

I can hardly wait to see what I decide.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Disney World

Until recently, I hadn't been to Walt Disney World in two decades. The last trip was one with my daughter and son in the mid-1990s.

When I was younger, a teenager or thereabouts, I had been to Disney World a few times. It was always a big deal and I always enjoyed it.

Of course, back then, they had the tickets (I think they actually called them "coupons") designating different attractions. A ticket, B ticket, up to E ticket. I always spent my E ticket on The Haunted Mansion. Love that attraction.

Note: Here's another link showing different attractions on some of the tickets.

When I took the children in the mid-1990s, that was, I believe, my first experience without the ticket books. That was great in that I didn't have to choose among certain attractions. The downside? Neither did anyone else. That meant the most popular attractions had long lines. That did put a little damper on things, but I focused on making the trip as enjoyable as I could for the children. I'm not sure how successful I was, but they did seem to enjoy it.

When I became a grandparent, I wanted to take the grandchildren to Walt Disney World. There were some catches, though. When the first grandchildren were born, I wasn't living in southeast Georgia where I grew up. The Columbus, Georgia area is a good six hour drive from Walt Disney World. That meant over 12 hours driving on the trip. Two adults, three children, in a single car, for that time and distance? Not comfortable.

Then, the long lines. Yes, Disney had introduced FastPass, but I didn't know much about that. I can be a quick study on some things, but honestly, I didn't do proper research into it. That's changed, as you'll soon see.

Oh, and the cost of driving and eating and hotels, not even counting the price of admission of adults and three grandchildren. All in all, an expensive proposition. And, it was something we never did. But, it was something I wanted to do.

Now, years later, I have more than three grandchildren. And I still wanted to get them to Disney World. Well, the two year old might be a little young to appreciate it. He'd get almost as much fun out of a sprinkler in the yard, but the day is coming soon. However, he has been to Disney World. More on that in a bit.

While I did want to take the grandchildren to Disney World, there were attractions much closer to Columbus than the one in Orlando. Atlanta has Six Flags over Georgia and Stone Mountain Park. We managed to take the grandchildren to each of those a few times. Even bought year passes for each at different times, but ended up not going that often. Work schedules, school schedules, and self-imposed restrictions that I thought were kinda silly (no, I won't elaborate), all contributed to making it not as often as would have been nice.

Still, the occasional trip to Six Flags or Stone Mountain did happen. Six Flags over Georgia and Stone Mountain Park are great places to visit. What they don't have is the "Disney mystique." I mean, you don't hear Super Bowl winners saying "I'm going to Stone Mountain!"

This year, though, I've been to Walt Disney World twice, and am gearing up for a third trip.

I mentioned that my youngest grandson had been to Disney World. His grandmother, my ex-wife, took him. She had also taken my second-youngest grandson, also her grandson, to Disney World. She's taken him more than once. Note: those are the only two grandchildren we share. My other grandchildren are not also her grandchildren.

This year, at the last minute, my daughter asked about our going to Disney World along with her, her son (my grandson), and her mother (my ex-wife). This was like two days before they were scheduled to go. I was open to the idea. Ex-wife and I get along fine. There's not a bunch of tension in the room when we're in the same place. We've had troubles in the past, but I'm not going to dwell on them, and neither is she, it seems. So, I said if I could work it out (that always means funding) we'd be delighted to go.

Actually, it turned out to not be "we." Wife didn't go. That nearly put a damper on things. Ex-wife expressed concern about that, but after talking with my daughter, it came down to my decision, and I went. And I enjoyed it during the time I was there. I didn't stay for the entire time they were there, but did have a blast riding the rides with my grandson. He rode the rides with me most of the time.

Seeing how much fun he was having made me decide to get the other grandchildren to Walt Disney World. Before I left Orlando, I was already setting things in place for a trip with the other five-year-old.

Wife still didn't want to go, so I ended up taking his brother and sister, both 17, a week later. They were great at keeping up with their brother, and had a fun time. Granddaughter in particular really enjoyed it. From my daughter, I had learned how to work the FastPass+ feature using the app for my iPhone, along with another app. That made the visit a lot more enjoyable, as we never waited in line more than 10 minutes for anything. Okay, there was one 20-minute wait for one ride, but only one. Everything else was either FastPass+ or short lines by noting the wait times on the app.

Right now, there's one more grandchild that's still in school (she's also 17) that hasn't been to Disney World. That's being remedied Labor Day weekend. And, this time, I won't be the only adult in the car. Wife is finally going. She went decades ago, before we met, but I don't think she particularly had a good time. Maybe that'll be different this time around. After all, I'm such a delight to be around.

Oh, remember that I mentioned that one granddaughter really enjoyed her trip? Well, she wants to go again. Only, I had to tell her "no." I explained that I wasn't going to take her twice and the others once. And my focus was on getting her cousin there, and that I wasn't going to buy her another ticket just yet. Undaunted, she said she was working and asked what if she bought her own ticket. I told her that, of course, we'd take her along. Which changed my "no" to a "yes." So, she bought her own ticket. This trip will be two adults (Wife and me) and two teenagers (cousins), which will mean the car is as full as it can be, what with luggage and a six hour trip. I am so looking forward to this trip with three of my favorite people.

There are still a grandchild that's in college. I have an idea how to manage getting her to Disney World. And, there's another that's not in college. We've discussed how to deal with that, too. We will work something out.

Anyway, I've been to Disney World twice since last month, and have another trip coming up next month. I'm not sure when I'll get Disney Fever out of my system. Maybe never.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hating TiVo

I don't really hate TiVo. In fact, I love my TiVo devices and the TiVo service. Sure, they're expensive, but they are top notch devices and the service is outstanding. Let me emphasize again, I love TiVo. But, I also hate it.

The problem isn't the cost. I willingly spent the money for devices and for lifetime service.

I first got a TiVo device back in 2006, and have been a fan through all the years, upgrading as time went on. And, after my pleasure of working with a TiVo Roamio, I was excited when the features of the newer TiVo was announced a couple of years ago. I was ready to upgrade my TiVo Premiere and anxiously awaited the release date.

Then I saw one.



I am not putting something that looks like that in my house. I don't know what kind of crack they were smoking, but I won't get near that thing.

Sure, the specs are great. And, if it looked like something a normal person would have in their house, I would have bought one when it came out.

But, I'm not spending my hard-earned money on something so stupid looking as that.

So, I decided to wait. Surely, they'll make something that a sane human being wouldn't be ashamed to be seen near. But, as the years have passed, there's been no indication that they're going to fix that abomination any time soon.

I've spent a decent amount of money over the years, purchasing a Series2 (that should have been my first indication that their brains were cockeyed when they left out the space between "Series" and "2"), a Series3, multiple Premiere, and a Roamio.

Speaking of Roamio (stupid name, another flag I missed), I have an OTA that is sitting in a box. But, where I want to use it -- that is, where I currently have a Premiere running -- has a cable package. There's no antenna, and the location is far enough away from TV towers that an indoor antenna won't do the job. And I'm not going to go through the time, trouble, and expense of putting up a sufficient tower and antenna. So, there's a Premiere still running there, not a Roamio (which I'd buy if I could find a new one that supported cable card) or a Bolt (which looks stupid as hell).

So, I'm hating on TiVo. The dumbasses at TiVo that came up with the idea of the appearance of the Bolt, and the dumbasses who won't put a decent-looking device out in its place.

I'll just keep my money.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Missing Music

When I got my new(er) car back in February, it had a SirusXM radio that had never been activated. Which means it was still eligible for the complementary three months service thing they do.

I'd had SiriusXM since I got Vlad (the Impala) in late 2007. It was actually XM Radio at the time, before the merger with Sirius Satellite Radio in late 2008. I'd gone through some cutbacks over the next few years, and was preparing to drop XM (it was Sirius XM by then), but one of the reps offered me a really cheap plan just to keep me on. Didn't offer much, none of the 60s on 6 type of channels, but it had Symphony Hall, Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl, The Bridge, and Laugh USA, so it was enough to keep me entertained while driving. Overall, around 50 channels.

I don't see the plan I have online, so I'm assuming it was a retention plan, keeping me as a customer for $6/month (it just went up to $7/month in June) rather than losing me altogether.

Where was I? Oh. The radio in the new car. Right.

When I retired Vlad and put Abe into service, I contacted Sirius XM about switching service. Because of the plan I had, I couldn't do it online, and had to call them. I intended to simply switch service to the radio in the new car and leave everything as is. Well, that's when the CSR found out that Radio ID has never been used with the three month introductory plan. And, yes, it was still eligible. So, they put that on, and scheduled it to return to the previous plan ($6/month at the time) when it the three months were up.

Well, for three months, I had the big package. All the channels. And that's when I started wandering around the dial. Before that, I had programmed the channels I was used to on the presets. Then I went wandering. The Decades channels were there (you know, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, and so on), along with many others I had heard before. It was nice.

Of course, some channels were gone. 40s on 4 had been replaced by some nonsense on 4. Then, I stumbled across SirisXM 74, 40s Junction. So, 40s on 4 had actually been incorporated into a 40s-style station. I say that because they'd actually play songs from the 50s that were stylistically 40s music. For example, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White is a 50s song, but it sounds like something from the 40s. It was written in 1950, and was a major world-wide hit for Perez Prado in 1955. They didn't play that on 40s on 4, but did on 50s on 5, even though it sounded like something from 40s on 4. They do play it on 40s Junction.

The point is -- at least, now this is the point -- that I discovered how much I missed the 40s music. I never listened a lot to it, but would listen to some. I spent most of the next three months listening to 40s Junction.

The three months ended, and my subscription to the Sirius Basic plan kicked in again, right in the middle of some song. I toyed with the idea of upgrading my plan, but the cheapskate in me won out. Back to classic rock and classical music.

But, I do miss the 40s music.


[The YouTube]

I miss it a lot.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Watching the Un-MSTied versions, Update 1

I mentioned in June that I was watching the un-MSTied versions of the movies shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Actually, I had mentioned that in April, but that was in passing. In June, I began focusing on doing that. Still am.

Since the, I've only watched five of the movies I haven't previously seen in un-MSTied form:
  • The Deadly Bees
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • The Mole People
  • Prince of Space
  • The She-Creature
Why only five? That's all I could find. I had to subscribe to Netflix DVDs to get those. Yes, I actually did that. And, it leaves me with 45 movies still to go:
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • At the Earth's Core
  • Carnival Magic
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • Daddy-O
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Devil Doll
  • Escape 2000 (Escape from the Bronx) (Bronx Warriors 2)
  • Final Justice
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon
  • The Green Slime
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Legend of Dinosaurs
  • Lost Continent
  • Master Ninja I
  • Master Ninja II
  • Pod People (The Pod People) (The New Extraterrestrials)
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Red Zone Cuba (Night Train to Mundo Fine)
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • San Francisco International
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • The Sinister Urge
  • The Slime People
  • Soultaker
  • The Space Children
  • Space Mutiny (Mutiny In Space)
  • SST - Death Flight
  • Superdome
  • The Starfighters
  • Teen-Age Crime Wave
  • Teen-Age Strangler (Terror in the Night)
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die
  • Time Chasers (Tangents)
  • The Touch of Satan
  • Untamed Youth
  • Village of the Giants
  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • Wild Rebels
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet (The Prehistoric Planet)
A few are available via Amazon by renting them. Over a dozen are listed on Netflix DVDs, but not in stock. So, I'm gonna ride Netflix DVD until that peters out. Will probably take a while, what with having to wait a couple of days inbetween each mailing. I've found other movies, unrelated to this project, that I'd like to see anyway, so I'm having Netflix send me those until the MST3K-related movies are back in stock.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Don Henley is now a tired old man

Remember the Don Henley song, "The End of the Innocence?"


Don Henley The End of Innocence by HollieMario

The lyrics at 1:59 refers to President Reagan as "the tired old man that we elected king." Now, while the song was co-written by Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby, and both sang it in concerts, the song and video were released by Henley, so he owns this, as far as I'm concerned.

Now, let's do some math.

From Ronald Reagan's birth to his inauguration was 25,551 days.

From Don Henley's birth to today is 25,551 days.

Don Henley, as of today, July 5, 2017, is now the same age Reagan was when he took office.

I wonder if he considers himself a tired old man. Maybe he should have just stuck to mentioning political references instead of trying to get personal. Because getting personal will always bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Watching the Un-MSTied versions

I mentioned a while back that I was watching the movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed. The original versions. Without the riffing.

Why am I doing this? Heck, I don't know. Lots of things I do for no good reason. It's what I do.

Anyway, I've actually seen most of the movies. I've got 25 more to go.

Let's do some numbers real quick. There are 213 episodes of MST3K, counting the revival series on Netflix, and the local season on KTMA TV-23 in Minneapolis way back in 1988-89. There's also the movie from the "pilot" episode, which was really just a demo reel, not an actual pilot episode. That brings us up to 214 episodes.

Now, keep in mind that nine of the movies from the KTMA season were later re-done in Season 3 on Comedy Central. That means there are 205 movies to watch. Well, I've watched 155 of them. That means there are exactly 50 more to go. Here they are, in episode order, with alternate titles, or sometimes, original titles, listed along with them.
  • The Green Slime
  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • SST - Death Flight
  • Superdome
  • The Legend of Dinosaurs
  • The Slime People
  • Untamed Youth
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet (The Prehistoric Planet)
  • Wild Rebels
  • Lost Continent
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon
  • Pod People (The Pod People) (The New Extraterrestrials)
  • Daddy-O
  • Master Ninja I
  • Master Ninja II
  • Warrior of the Lost World
  • Secret Agent Super Dragon
  • Teen-Age Strangler (Terror in the Night)
  • Teen-Age Crime Wave
  • Village of the Giants
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Code Name: Diamond Head
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • The Starfighters
  • The Sinister Urge
  • San Francisco International
  • Kitten with a Whip
  • Red Zone Cuba (Night Train to Mundo Fine)
  • Escape 2000 (Escape from the Bronx) (Bronx Warriors 2)
  • The Mole People
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die
  • The She-Creature
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
  • Prince of Space
  • Devil Doll
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • Space Mutiny (Mutiny In Space)
  • Time Chasers (Tangents)
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • The Deadly Bees
  • The Space Children
  • The Touch of Satan
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Soultaker
  • Final Justice
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
  • Carnival Magic
  • At the Earth's Core
All of the other movies, the other 155 movies, I've watched. Some I watched before there was an MST3K. I enjoyed some of them. Some, I absolutely hated. Which movies fall into which category is something I'll get into when I'm done watching them all.

Of course, that assumes I'll be able to watch them all. But, I know me. I'll figure out a way. In fact, 17 of these 50 are, or have been, recently available on DVD. The other 33 might be difficult. However, many of those have shown up online, though sometimes just briefly. There are only about four that I've not seen as available online or on DVD, even if briefly. I suspect I'll be able to see them all before the year is out.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kudos to Comcast

Up front, let me tell you that I absolutely hate those sorry grawlixes at NBC news. NBC can just cease to exist as far as I'm concerned.

Having said that, I do want to say some nice things about their parent company, Comcast.

Several days back, my mother's home phone went out. She has Comcast's XFINITY Triple Play, with cable TV, Internet service, and home phone provided by them. It's what she wants, it's what she's got.

Only, her home phone went out, and the local office -- people that have always been good to her and seem to want to take care of their customers -- told her that it would be a week and a half before someone could go by and service her account.

I jumped on social media (The Twitter and The Facebook) and let my displeasure be known about their making an 81-year-old widow woman do without a home phone for 10 days. Well, turns out that Comcast reads The Twitter and The Facebook. They reached out and asked for more information. After some communication back and forth, they left word that someone would be by on Sunday. That was last Sunday. And, someone did come by.

Comcast service tech Patrick made the visit on a Sunday afternoon, and, before he left, her home phone was working. He inspected all the lines under the house, in the attic, and outside. He found an issue -- actually, something that was still working but would become an issue in the future -- and got that fixed. She and I were happy with his service.

But that's not all. Let me relate about a family friend from the church, an 81-year-old woman who lives alone. She had DirecTV service that hasn't worked since summer, plus AT&T home phone, Internet (6 Mbps DSL), and cell phone (flip phone) service. They weren't giving her any discounts, despite having four services from AT&T (remember, they own DirecTV). She was paying out a lot of money.

No more.

Today, Comcast made their scheduled service installation visit, and hooked up her cable TV, Internet (75 Mbps), and home phone (ported her number). Service tech Eddie came by within the service window, and set to work to make her a happy customer.

He didn't work fast, but he didn't piddle around, either. He went through the steps, verified everything was working at each step, worked to clear up some hiccups along the way -- yes, I was there and watching -- and, when he left, she had everything she was wanting. And, she'll pay less for more. She's happy.

As much as people dump on Comcast -- and I'm sure much of it is deserved -- I think it's proper to say when something goes right. Maybe those people that trash Comcast have legitimate complaints. I'm certain they do. But, what they don't have is Patrick and Eddie serving them. People like Patrick and Eddie make Comcast look good.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MST3K: Completing the library?

I wrote before about having a full library of all the video releases of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Shout Factory has continued to release volumes since I originally wrote that.

Volumes XXXVI, XXXVII, and XXXVIII have been released, as well as re-releases of Volumes 2, 3, 4, and 5. And, yes, I have them.

Volume XXXIX would normally be released this summer, based on the schedule Shout Factory has maintained since they took over the releases in late 2008. And they normally announce the next volume when a volume hits the stores.

This time, they didn't.

What they did do was announce that the complete Cinematic Titanic collection would be released in August. That's around the time of the normal MST3K summer volume release (traditionally, late July).

So, why no annoucement? Why Cinematic Titanic instead of a new collection of MST3K? I dunno. But I've never let that stop me.

In case you aren't aware, Cinematic Titanic was Joel Hodgson's project that, like Mystery Science Theater 3000, had a crew riffing on movies. Like RiffTrax -- from Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, who were Mike, Tom and Professor Bobo, and Crow and Brain Guy on MST3K -- they pretty much were themselves in the riffing. Like MST3K, they used silhouettes over the movie.

Cinematic Titanic ran from 2007 to 2013 with DVDs and live shows. Since it's from MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and featured MST3K stars Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester/Crow), Frank Conniff (TV's Frank), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and J. Elvis Weinstein (Dr. Erhardt/Tom Servo), it's quite closely related to MST3K. And, it seems that Shout Factory is using the complete CT catalog to fill in for the summer release. At least, that's how I see it.

Anyway, we're not sure if we've reached the end of MST3K releases, or if we're simply close to the end.

As of this writing, there are only 13 national classic episodes that have never been released in any form (that is, Rhino VHS, Rhino DVD, or Shout DVD):
  • Rocketship X-M
  • Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
  • It Conquered the World
  • Fire Maidens of Outer Space
  • Attack of the The Eye Creatures
  • Girls Town
  • The Amazing Transparent Man
  • Terror from the Year 5000
  • I Was a Teenage Werewolf
  • The Deadly Bees
  • The Space Children
  • Quest of the Delta Knights
  • Diabolik
There's one other, The Amazing Colossal Man that has never been on DVD, but was released on VHS.

None of these are public domain, so rights have to be negotiated. Only two are likely for release: The Amazing Transparent Man and Quest of the Delta Knights (Source: Travis Hosey).

Shout Factory may never get rights to some of these. I'd personally be fine with them releasing any they could, with inclusion of previously-release solo items padding out to fill a four-pack. For example, Shorts Volume 3 was only on Rhino VHS and as a bonus disc on early issues of The Essentials (Rhino). That would be great to have for fans that didn't get those early or limited editions.

Some of the solo-only episodes would be great, too:
  • Beginning of the End
  • Red Zone Cuba
  • The Wild Wild World of Batwoman
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate
There are also some that were released on Rhino that have never been released on Shout Factory.
  • Eegah
  • I Accuse My Parents
  • The Crawling Hand
  • The Hellcats
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Technically, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was never a solo release, but part of the aforementioned two-episode The Essentials DVD release along with Manos: The Hands of Fate and, for limited pre-orders, Shorts Volume 3.

I wouldn't mind Volume XXXIX consisting of packaging some of the solo-only releases. For example, a Super Essentials with Manos: The Hands of Fate, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Shorts Volume 3, and maybe the full versions of Poopie and Poopie II (their bloopers reels) as the fourth disc. The uncut versions of the two films would make great Bonus Disc materials. They'd even make good replacements for the interviews and features that have been staples of the releases.

Volume XL could be one (or two) of the unreleased items for which Shout Factory has or can get rights, padded with Tom Servo's All Time Favorite Host Segments volumes 1-5, The MST Scrapbook, and The Last Dance - Raw (though that would be great to pair with Diabolik, should it ever see the light of day.

Perhaps they could even work out a deal with RiffTrax for some of their public domain movies they riffed to be released.

Now, I firmly believe that if Shout Factory were to release anything other than four previously unreleased episodes, they'd get complaints. Heck, they've received complaints about some of the four-packs of unreleased materials. Some people live to bitch, moan, and complain.

Anyway, I'm not sure if we're on the home stretch, of if we've actually crossed the finish line.

Oh, and I've not even mentioned the KTMA episodes. Word is they exist. I've seen them, or tapes of broadcasts from episode 4 on. They're rough. They're not the quick-paced riffing we're used to, because it was all ad-libbed. Still, there are some gems there. But that's a topic for a whole 'nuther day.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Night Fish Fry

What's the oldest rock n roll song you know? When did it come out?

If your answer after 1949, you may want to think again.

Until recently, I wasn't familiar with Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry." But now I am. How I ran across it is ... well, there's a story.

A long time ago, on the SiriusXM radio in the car, I had several of the Decades channels on the presets. 40s on 4, 50s on 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, and 80s on 8. I stopped after the 80s because I know what music from the 90s and later sounds like. But the thing that might surprise some is the 40s on 4.

Some of the songs from the 40s are songs that I would listen to as far back as high school. Not many back during my high school days, but some. And as time has gone on, I find more and more from the 40s are songs I'd listen to. I have a few songs from the 40s on my iPhone for occasional listening. Which means my listening might consist of a sampling of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Merle Haggard, The Who, Aerosmith, Glenn Miller, Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, and Nat King Cole.

I was a little disappointed when SiriusXM did a reworking of the channels some time back and 40s on 4 disappeared. Channel 75 Pops disappeared at the same time. I was not a happy camper.

Anyway, the other day, I noticed that right below Channel 74 Met Opera Radio was Channel 73 40s Junction. So, I added that back to my presets, just ahead of 50s on 5.

Now that we're all caught up, I have noticed that when I switch channels because I'd rather hear something else, that when I stop on 40s Junction, I'm not so quick to change to something else. So, I'll drive for some time listening to that.

Well, the other day, right after Glenn Miller (or Benny Goodman, or Artie Shaw, you get the idea) something called "Saturday Night Fish Fry" started playing. I looked over to see if I was still on 40s Junction, or if I had hit the Next button on the steering wheel and moved to 50s on 5.

Nope. Hadn't moved. Was still on 40s Junction, listening to what sounded like a rock n roll song.


[The YouTube]

Now, I have heard some 50s songs -- songs from as late as 1955, the traditional start of the "rock n roll era" -- on 40s Junction. But, I made a note to look this song up. 1949.

That's rock n roll before there was rock n roll.

If you know of an earlier rock n roll song, let me know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sweet!

I like sweet tea. Or, as we call it here in Georgia, tea. The only problem with sweet tea is the Calories. But that's both bad and good.

It's bad, because I don't need to be taking in as many Calories (or kilocalories, properly) as I do. But it's good, because the more Calories something has, the better it tastes. Usually.

Anyway, I like sweet tea.

I like really sweet tea.

Really sweet tea.

Tea so sweet that if it was a little bit thicker, you could pour it over pancakes. That's how sweet I like my tea.

Only, I really do need to lose some weight. Which means I could drink something else, like water, or unsweet tea. But I don't like unsweet tea. I like water, but sometimes you want some flavor in your drink at the table.

So, I thought, I could do unsweet tea and put a sweetener in it. And, the only sweetener I really like -- actually, don't intensely dislike -- is sucralose. The most well-known brand of which is Splenda. Basically, it's sugar with a chlorine atom attached, so you body passes that poison right through. You get the taste, but not the Calories. At least, that's the theory.

The thing is, I don't like the powder, because it never works right. I mean, if you take a little bit of hot water and dissolve the Splenda in that, it's fine when you add it to your drink. Yes, I've experimented with this. But that's not always the easiest way to do it in a restaurant.

Fortunately, there's Splenda Liquid.



It does a pretty good job, and I've used it recently. I carry it around in the pocket of my blazer, so I would order unsweet tea, then pull it out and squirt some of the sweetener in. A little stirring with a straw and it's done. Tastes okay.

Then I went and left it on the table at a Huddle House. Yes, I will eat at a Huddle House. Shut up. Their omelets are pretty good. Anyway, I went back later, but they already threw it away.

Thing is, Splenda liquid is hard to find. At least, around here. In fact, I've only found it in the Walmart store in Perry, Georgia. I'm sure it's in other places, but I don't know what those places are.

Around here, the grocery stores -- and Walmart stores -- carry other stuff. Like Stevia liquid stuff.



It ain't the same thing. And I don't like it. But, it'll do until I get some more Splenda liquid.

Or, I may just decide to stay fat. That's always an option.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ellis Island

My mother visited my daughter in New York the past few days. She's been to New York before, but the weather was horrible, so this was her first opportunity to actually get out and see stuff there.

The Little Princess had a blast showing her grandmother around. Broadway shows. Some famous restaurants. One World Trade Center. Many of the typical tourist things.

Once place they went this past weekend was Ellis Island. While they were there, my daughter sent me a text:
Do you know the name of any ancestor who came to Ellis Island? We are here and can look up names
I knew the answer off the top of my head, but thought it best to actually verify. I called up some ancestry records I had easy access to, and gave her the first part of the answer:
Ellis Island opened in 1892. All 8 of my great grandparents were born in the US prior to that date. ...

I'll check your mother's side.
And, a few minutes later, I confirmed it:
All of your ancestors were in the US prior to the opening of Ellis Island facility.
The Little Princess wasn't fully aware of how long her people have been here. Yes, her ancestors came to the U.S. from other countries. Only, many of them didn't come to the U.S. It didn't become the United States until well after they were settled. Many of them, anyway. There may be some that arrived in the 1790s. Records are skimpy, but I have run across one that appears to have arrived then. And that's the most recent.

That's not to take away from any families that came here during the time Ellis Island was open. But that has been played up so much that she assumed some of her ancestors came to the U.S. then.

They didn't. They were already here, welcoming those immigrants.

Or, knowing my family, giving them a rough time. Probably that.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bob Owens

I became aware of Bob Owens back when he ran the Confederate Yankee blog. His early days, if you will.

I never actually met him, but I did run into his brother in Las Vegas. His brother ran Phin's Blog (now defunct). "Phin" was a huckuva nice guy. But his brother Bob, the "Confederate Yankee," was the big time blog. Or it became big time in short order.

I'm sad I never did have the opportunity to meet him. I think I would have come away the better for it. But, it wasn't to be.

Bob apparently took his own life yesterday.



I don't know the circumstances. I do know that when the pain, whatever the cause, exceeds the clarity of thought, bad things happen.

I'm shocked about what has happened, and I hope the family will be able to recover from this devastating loss. I just wish Bob understood how many miss him.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

To absent friends...



Beth Cleaver died yesterday. I'm heartbroken.

I don't know how many of you followed her old blog, "My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy," but it was always a must-read. She dropped it and continued on Facebook for the last several years.

She always spoke her mind, and always cared about her family, her friends, and, of course, her country.

I don't really know what to say. I do know that we need more people like Beth, not fewer.

Cancer sucks.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gettin' ready for the new MST3K

You knew it was coming back on the 14th, right?


[The YouTube]

Yep, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back -- or will be back, really soon. Like a week and a half. Not even that long. On the 14th. So, yeah, soon.

Are you ready? I'm not. But I'm getting ready.

First, I need to subscribe to Netflix. I don't ever watch Netflix, what with Hulu and iTunes and Amazon and TiVo and everything. I had Netflix, but never watched it, so I stopped paying for it. Plus they ticked me off about something, but I don't remember just what. Anyway, I'll need to subscribe to Netflix, since that's where you can watch it.

Also, I thought about watching the old episodes again, but I watch the occasional episode every week anyway, so I'm not doing that. I actually did that before, back in 2011 & 2012. I started at the beginning, with the KTMA episodes. You can't buy them, but you can find them if you look hard enough. Honestly, unless you have those on a bucket list, it's like a pre-season football game. It doesn't really satisfy, but you can see them training and growing and working the kinks out. Some of the host segment are really good, so good they were redone for the national series. If you want to read my reviews of the KTMA episodes, start here.

If you want to start with the official Season One, start here. I watched them in the original airdate order, which is slightly different than most episode lists you see. It only makes a difference in a couple of places but the first season has one of those places.

If you want to just look at the overall review of all the episodes, videos, and what-not, try this link. Use the sidebar to go to particular ones you want. Or, just watch them in order (if you own them or can find them) and see if you think about them like I do.

Anyway, what I've been doing that's MST3K related is finding the original uncut, unedited, un-MSTied versions of the movies and shorts that aired and watching them. Why? I dunno. Maybe to see what the MST3K crew had to go through. Maybe just to say I did. That last one seems more likely, knowing me like I do.

But what about you? What are you doing to get ready for the relaunch of MST3K?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Check your doors when you leave

Got an unusual text from my sister -- the Mean One -- the other night.
Mean Sister (8:54 PM):
Are you in town?
Me (8:54 PM):
Yes
Mean Sister (8:55 PM):
Can you come to my house with your gun. I just got back in town, and my front door is open.
Me (8:55 PM):
On the way
Mean Sister (8:55 PM):
Thank you.
That's not a very common request from her ... or from anybody, actually. At least, it's not a request I get very often.

I threw some clothes on, grabbed the gun, got my sister on the phone, and rushed that way.

A room to room search determined no one was there ... or had been there. The front door was locked, but wide open. The conclusion was that she had pulled the locked door to but didn't properly close it, and that it has blown open.

She admitted that she never checks the door when she leaves because she "always keeps the door locked." I tried not to be too much of a jackass, but I did suggest that she change her habits. And, just in case you have ... well, sloppy, to be honest ... habits regarding securing your residence, rethink things.

Always check your doors when you leave. Go to every door, and make sure they're locked. Check your windows regularly. If you ever open them, check them before you leave or before you call it a night.

When you leave out a door and you pull it to, turn the knob to ensure it's locked. Push on the door to ensure it's latched. And, if you have a deadbolt, use it. Sure, it's a pain to do every time you leave. And it takes anywhere from 2 - 6 seconds. Take that extra time. Please.

The problem isn't that my sister didn't do these things and get me out. It's that she wasn't being safe. I'm hoping she changes her habits. I want her to be safe.

You be safe too, okay?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Handgun advice

I'm looking for advice regarding a first handgun. Yes, it's for me.

Now, I have actually owned a handgun in my life. A handgun. Owned a revolver. Left it with the ex-wife many years ago. She also had a handgun or two -- revolvers -- but she obtained them, I didn't. Except for that one that was left with her, as I mentioned.

Wife (number two) has several. Lots of revolvers, some shotguns, couple of rifles. She either bought them or inherited them. Anyway, she obtained them, not me.

I've never been much of a gun person. That is, never went to the range, never bought handguns (except for that one cheap revolver just to have for home protection). Only fired a handgun once, and that was, gosh, 40 years ago. It was a friend's and I really don't remember why.

Fired a rifle that my father owned. Little .22 that he kept for, oh, I don't know, birds, rattlesnakes, whatever. Only fired it a few times. And, that was well over 40 years ago.

Of course, in the Army, I fired some M16 rifles. Had an M16A1 issued to me briefly (nope, never fired it full auto), then M16A2 rifles for the rest of my time in service. I was an okay shot. Qualified as Sharpshooter but never as Expert.

I've recently fired a few weapons at a local indoor range. I'm not a great shot, but I think I'm decent at close range (7 yards). I'd probably ruin some bad guy's day, or at least, make it not turn out quite as well as he had planned. I've had no handgun training, of course, but I know some weapons basics from the Army and apply those.

Anyway, never owned a lot of firearms. But, I'm wanting to have something for personal protection around the house ... and when out of the house. I'm on the road a lot every week, and I'd just feel better if there was some protection available when I'm in certain places. And, yes, I've applied for a Georgia Firearms Licence, which is required to carry in public outside of home or vehicle, whether concealed or open. Georgia is a "shall issue" state.

But, as you can tell, I'm no expert. So I'm curious as to what would be a good personal carry weapon. Should I go with a 9mm? .380? Something smaller for a first weapon? Or is larger better? Should I forego a semi-automatic and get a revolver?

What would you suggest as a first weapon?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington's Birthday 2017

George Washington
I've been posting this -- or posts very much like it -- for over a decade. And I'm gonna keep doing it until everyone gets it right. Because it's important.

What's the problem? Some people call today "Presidents' Day." Those people are wrong. Don't be those people. Today isn't Presidents Day. It's Washington's Birthday. At least, that's the holiday. His real birthday is actually coming up on the 22nd, but today is the federal holiday honoring Washington's Birthday. Check out 5 U.S. Code § 6103.

When George Washington was born, the date was February 11, 1731. You see, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was using the Julian Calendar back then. There is an issue with leap years with the Julian Calendar, so the calendar was always slowly getting more and more inaccurate. Also, in England and the colonies, New Year's Day was on March 25. Go figure.

Anyway, in 1750, the U.K. changed to the Gregorian Calendar and fixed things. New Year's Day was now in January. The calendar dates were adjusted 11 days, which meant that, retroactively, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But that was only the first time people screwed around with his birthday.

The federal government did try to do right by Washington in 1879 when they added a fifth national holiday. Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, was added to the list of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as national holidays. Other holidays were added later, until we have the ten we have today.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, moving many of the holidays to Mondays instead of the proper or traditional day. Washington's Birthday was one of those. And, just like the government, they made it so it would never be right. The holiday falls on the third Monday in February, which means it can be as early as the 15th, and as late as the 21st. It will never be on the 22nd, which is when it actually is.

Some states used to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday on February 12th. Around half the states have state holidays honoring both Lincoln and Washington today. And, states can do that. Still, the federal holiday is, and has always been Washington's Birthday.

If your state celebrates more than just George Washington today, fine. Honor Lincoln and the other presidents that your state recognizes. But, there is a reason the federal holiday is simply Washington's Birthday. Don't forget to honor the man without whom we might very well not have this great nation.

George Washington. February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799. First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vlad the Impala

After 178,000 miles, I've retired Vlad, the Impala. And, yes, we actually called it that, because, well, it's funny.

I bought the car new in late 2007, and took care of it as best I could. Serviced it on schedule, tried to be a responsible owner, and I feel pretty good about the miles I put on it. Lately, though, it's begun to have issues.

A year ago, it developed an oil leak, and the dealership did some $2400 worth of work on it. Well, whether or not it was actually worth that much for the work, I can't say. That's what they charged though. But, to keep the car running, I had the repairs done. Well, recently, the oil leak returned. Took it back to the dealer, and they wanted $1800 to fix it, with the work being rework of most of what was done a year ago. Which, to my ignorant mind, wasn't a good thing. I figured if the car took 150,000 miles to get the leak in the first place, it should have been a while before the same leaks reoccurred. Silly me.

There was also some damage to the vehicle over the years. About five years ago, some clown backed into me at a gas station in Peachtree City, GA. He had picked up a waitress from a nearby restaurant, stopped at the store next to the restaurant -- where I was gassing up Vlad -- then backed straight into the car. His insurance wanted to give me some crap, but they never were able to refute that my car was turned off and I was out of the car, fueling it when he backed into me.

Around a year ago, I had an incident on a stretch of highway near Baxley, GA around 4:30 one morning. Slightly foggy. 65 MPH stretch of road. Four lane divided highway. Two deer, one in each northbound lane. Hit the brakes, swerved to the left (I was already in the left lane) and did a 180 in the median. Lots of superficial damage to the bumper from all the growth in the median.

Then, a few weeks later, near Brunswick on that same US highway one night, a large dog, one of two running beside the road, decided he wanted to cross the road instead. I was in the right lane this time, and he met the bumper on the driver side.

I kinda feel I was lucky in both incidents. The deer thing could have gone horribly bad. So could the dog thing, if he had gone under the car, since he was a large dog and the Impala sits pretty low to the ground. I've been in a vehicle where that actually happened, and don't recommend that experience.

Apart from those incidents, I always enjoyed my time in the Impala. It was a comfortable car, and the best car I ever owned. But the fact it was needing major work every year meant it was about that time. That or the dealership does crappy work. Still, 178,000 miles.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new car. Well, not a new new car, but a newer car. Didn't trade the Impala. They wouldn't have given me anything for a 2008 Impala with 178,000 miles on it and an oil leak. So, I kept Vlad and added Abe to the stable.

I turned Vlad over to my son to oversee selling it. I have all the receipts for services, repair work, tires, and turned all that over to him so he can show the history of the car, along with the details of the current issues. Maybe it'll sell. Maybe it won't.

I'm missing Vlad, but Abe is a nice ride. I hope I can get many miles and many years from Abe. Vlad set a standard that'll be hard to beat.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Aunt Martha

We buried Aunt Martha yesterday. She was my father's little sister. Not his youngest sister, but younger than he was. And, she wasn't a very tall person. She was on the short side, much like her mother, my grandmother, was.

Aunt Martha was always a hard worker who loved her family and loved her garden. But, Aunt Martha hasn't been the same for the last, oh, nearly nine years. That's when Uncle Dave passed. Some time after that, she moved into her son David's house.

Her later years were impacted by Alzheimer's. She knew it, of course, and it frustrated her. But one of the saddest things is that two of her grandchildren, David's children, may not be able to remember her as she was. They're not small children, but their last several years of knowing their grandmother were years of her being affected by the disease.

She was okay on some days, but was really dependent on David -- and David's wife, in particular -- for, well, just about everything. Even if it was nothing more than being right there. My last extended conversation with Aunt Martha was actually a pretty lucid affair. But, she was always checking to make sure her daughter-in-law was right there, or at least close by. She knew what the disease had done and was doing to her.

It is s shame that some of her grandchildren, and all of her great grand children -- her daughter's grandchildren -- won't be able to remember Aunt Martha at her best. Because she was one of the best.

We miss her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I think I accidentally bought a Windows tablet ...

For those that know I'm a Mac user and might wonder why in the world I'd want a Windows tablet, let me start with some computer background about me and the family.

I've been a user of Macs since 2007. I'm fairly heavy into the Apple ecosystem with a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air, an iPad Pro, an iPhone 6s, an Apple TV, plus hundreds of movies, many TV shows, and thousands of songs from the iTunes store. And that's just me. I've bought many other devices for family members.

Now, I'm not exclusively Mac. I have a fairly decent Windows desktop computer, as well as having virtual Windows computers on my MacBooks. The grandchildren use Windows computers still. All those that are double-digit ages got computers, and I've kept them updated every 3-4 years provided they swap them back to me. That ensures they take care of them. Not all do, but most of them do.

At work, I use a Windows computer. Not my choice, but what they assign me. I would prefer to use a Mac, but I cannot justify the extra expense to the company, so I use the Windows machine. I also log in and work remote regularly. That requires a Windows computer, which normally means my Windows desktop.

I was using a virtual machine on my Mac to log in to work if an emergency came up and I wasn't at home ... and had my MacBook with me, which I often did. However, my virtual machine (using Parallels) has recently encountered an issue with the shift key. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Caps Lock always works, but some characters (! @ # $ % etc) are only possible -- or feasible; I know about ALT-KEYPAD but prefer to not do that -- via the shift key.

Now, considering that in a year or so, I'll be updating at least three of the grandchildren's computers, and that it would be useful to have a reliable Windows laptop for emergency remote log in, I've been looking at getting a Windows laptop. The grandchildren's computers have all been Dell Inspiron laptops, which I've found reliable, and, until recently, easy to work on if necessary. But, as those three are looking to finish high school in another year, I'm thinking a better grade of laptop might be better for college.

Anyway, I've been looking at Dell's XPS line of laptops. I've never had one of those, and wasn't sure if it would be good to get one of those, or a MacBook. Getting an XPS for me would get me familiar with how good they actually are as well as solve my immediate need for a reliable emergency remote work computer. So, I've been looking at the XPS line.

They ain't cheap. But, I looked into the Dell outlet -- that's their discontinued and refurbished store -- and saw some XPS machines with solid state drives at pretty good prices compared to a MacBook. So, I shopped there for a bit. I wanted at least 256 GB drive, 8 GB RAM, and at least a 13-inch screen. However, it came down to "pick two." So, I went with the drive and RAM, and settled for a 12-inch screen, similar to what the MacBook line offers.

It came in last week, and when I opened the box, it was kinda sparse inside. A laptop and a power supply. Truly bare bones. So, I plugged the laptop in (USB-C connection for power) and let it sit for a bit while I took care of other stuff for a few hours. Then, that evening, after supper, I decided to dive in. First thing I did was open the device. That's when the screen came off in my hands.

I sat there for a minute with what I can only figure was a really stupid look on my face until I realized that it was designed to do that. It had connection pins and magnetic alignment to ensure they were touching. It was, in essence, a 12-inch Windows tablet and a full-size hard keyboard attachment.

The touchpad works very well, as good as my MacBook keypads. At least, so far. The screen is a little small (being old sucks), but I knew what I was getting into when I started. Changing the resolution (lowering it) has helped that a little.

So, I'm using a Windows laptop, specifically a Dell XPS 12, which is actually a tablet. (Note: Windows PC and mobile operating systems are the same, unlike Apple's macOS for computers and iOS for mobile.)

So far, so good. But I still feel a little stupid for not realizing what I was buying.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I got better

After a bout with ... well, whatever it was ... I'm much better now. Actually, I've been better for a bit. Only, it was one of those things where I wasn't sure if I'd suddenly relapse or otherwise need to see the inside of a hospital again. But, I'm pretty sure I'm better. I even have the word from a doctor that I'm doing better.

Briefly, I was hospitalized ... twice, or maybe three times ... with the same symptoms but for apparently different reasons.

First time, I passed out at work on a Friday, possibly from food poisoning. The following Monday, a visit to the doctor turned into a visit to the hospital, and a stay for a few days because of an apparent intestinal blockage. After a few days out, and a quick return to a normal diet, I went back in on Christmas Day with the same symptoms, but with no blockage found.

So far, there has been no definite reason found for all this, which means it could be a combination of things, or a thing still not determined. I'm going with a combination: food poisoning, followed by a temporary blockage exacerbated by a hernia, followed by my body not ready to process regular food.

I've continued my soft diet -- mostly stuff that you can either either with a spoon or with no utensils -- and slowly adding items from my normal diet. So far, so good.

Now, all that explanation accomplished one thing: it gave me time to think about what it is I really want to say. I want to say "thank you" to all that expressed concerns and offered prayers, kind words and thoughts, and wished me well.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Monday, January 2, 2017

How I spent my Christmas vacation

In the hospital
I do hope your Christmas and holiday time were joyful and a blessing. I know mine was, despite a couple of things: two hospital stays.

This post isn't to ask for any sympathy or anything, but to explain where I've been. For those that noticed I've not been online much.

On the 15th, I had supper at Atlanta Bread Company in Columbus. I got sick. How sick? The store is now closed. Really. Apparently many Atlanta Bread Company stores have been closing during 2016, if my Google search is an indication.

Anyway, I got sick at work the next day, passed out, and they called EMS to take me to the hospital in Columbus. They released me that night. Unable to eat the entire weekend, I went to the doctor on Monday, and he sent me back to the hospital with specific instructions. They said I had an intestinal blockage. Stayed there for a few days, then was released after it was cleared. After spending Christmas eve with many of the grandchildren, on Christmas morning, I drove to southeast Georgia to spend time with the other grandchildren. And went back into the hospital that night.

After a few days, I was released and have appointments with my doctor and a surgeon this week. We'll see how it goes.

So, despite spending many days in the hospital over the last half of December, I got to see all the grandchildren.

It was a good Christmas holiday.