Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It's a stereotype that men don't read instructions. And, sure, there's truth behind it, like most stereotypes. But it's not a universal truth.

I read instructions. Or try to, anyway.

Not that I'm not a typical guy. I think I'm pretty typical.

But, experience teaches me to read the instructions.

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.

And I've made my share of bad decisions. So, my experience teaches me to read the directions.

But not everyone is that way. And mostly, it's guys.

But not always.

The Little Princess got an iPod Nano for Christmas. A red one (Go Dawgs!).

She didn't have one. And wanted one. And had asked her mother for one. But, she eventually marked it off the list, because of the other stuff her mother got her.

So, when she got the iPod from me and the Wife, she was surprised.

And pleased.

She squealed like a little girl.

Which she is. Well, she may be 24, but she's my little girl. Always will be.

Anyhow, she was all excited about it. We ended up going to the food court at the mall in Brunswick (my son's new apartment -- where we met and exchanged gifts -- doesn't yet have Internet access), to set it up.

But before we did that, we had to undo some stuff.

You see, while I have learned to read the instructions, I wasn't born that way. I had to learn it over time.

And the Little Princess still has a ways to go.

I discovered that when she said, "Um. How do you get it out of Chinese mode?"

Yes, she had played with the scroll wheel and the menu and all, and accidentally put it in Chinese mode.

After minutes of fruitlessly searching for a way to set it back, I picked up the instructions, found the reset method, and set the iPod back.

She's one step closer to reading the instructions. I still don't think she's there yet.

But soon enough, she'll have enough experience to make good decisions.

I just hope it's a more pleasant journey for her than it was for me.

Christmas 2007

Chapter 2
  1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
  2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
  3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
  4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
  5. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
  6. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
  7. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  8. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
  9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
  10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
  11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
  12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
  13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
  14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Visit From St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!" As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Just another Days Inn paradise

Christmas is a hectic time. And, sometimes, family situations make it even more so.

My son and daughter have been coming to our house on Christmas Eve the last few years. But not this year.

A divorce in and of itself causes enough problems for children. But when other family members start getting in on things, it gets even worse. Not just for the children, but for everyone.

And that's true in our situation.

This year, not because of their mother and me, but because of other reasons, the children aren't spening Christmas Eve here. And it all came up at the last minute.

So, Saturday night, I packed up the car and went to Brunswick.

My son has moved to Brunswick. His first apartment.

So, I got him some stuff for his apartment. And, of course, drop off Christmas presents.

Because of the uncertainty of what all was happening when, I got to Brunswick and checked into the Days Inn.

That was fun.

First, the light didn't come on.

I tried the switch several times. Went over to the floor lamp itself.

No luck.

Turns out the light was unplugged. Sort of.

Maybe they didn't have enough money to buy a long enough cord for the lamp to reach the outlet positioned near the ceiling.

Got that taken care of, and went to check out the rest of the room.

Found a problem with the bathroom door. Or a former problem.

Don't know who or what knocked a hole in the door, but it seems they patched it up.

Jam up job, too, from the looks of it.

I guess they ran out of paint, though.

So, what else could be wrong?

Well, when I looked into the bathroom, I saw where someone obviously had a sever attack of ... something.

Whatever they had, they seem to have grabbed violently at the toilet paper roll.

Violently enough to knock the holder out of the wall.

I'm guessing the Days Inn, after having spent all the money on putty for the bathroom door, and lamp cord to almost reach the outlet, didn't have enough left over to fix the toilet paper dispenser.

But, the good news for me is, they had Internet access.

At least, the signs said so.

As well as the lady at the window that checked me into the room.

Turns out, though, that Internet access doesn't actually include access to the Internet, though.

What the heck was I thinking.

The lady at the desk did give me a telephone number to call about it.

Guy was just as helpful as can be.

When he found out I was using a Mac with OS X 10.5, he looked up his trusty troubleshooting guide for OS X 10.2, and went to work.

When it all ended, I still wasn't on the Internet, and he said he'd enter a report for the guy that could fix it. And that guy would be in to work the next night.

So, Saturday night was a real joy.

Sunday would have to get better. Right?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trying to explain the receipt for a pack of rubbers

I use my Visa Check Card a lot.

Well, not a lot. But when I buy something, I use it.

Gosh, I don't remember the last time I wrote a check. Not even sure where the checkbook is. Or the checks, at least. I know where the check register is.

It's real convenient to use. The commercials about using it are a little silly at times, but I've been on the Visa Check Card bandwagon for years.

The Wife, too.

Anyway, I stopped by Walgreen's yesterday for some mouth wash. Ended up buying a couple of other things. Always do.

Including eyeglasses wipes.

For my eyeglasses.

Those, I can spend my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for. Mouth wash, not the case.

Plus, I bought some candy, and other items for around the house.

So, when I went to pay for my stuff, I ran through two transactions. One for the FSA purchases, one for standard purchases.

When I was done, the cashier handed me all my receipts. Or tried to. I was putting my card in my wallet, or my wallet in my pocket, and failed to properly secure them. They slipped to the counter top.

And, I gathered them up, folded them -- without looking -- and put them in my back pocket. That's where I put Check Card receipts during the day, for entry into the check register at night.

Everything was all well and good, until I pulled the receipts out when I got home. I always just put them on the desk next to the computer that we use for online banking.

The Wife looked at them last night ... and had a question.

"What's this receipt for condoms?" she inquired.

"What?" I asked, surprised.

"Yeah, a cash receipt for condoms."

I paused for a second. "Let me see that."

She handed it over.

Sure enough, it was a receipt for three items, including a box of 12 Trojan condoms.

"Not mine," I said. And they weren't.

"They damn sure ain't mine," she said.

Hmmm, I thought. What in the world?

"Look, there's the receipt for the eyeglass wipes, and there's the receipt for the mouth wash and candy," I said.

"And there's your box of rubbers," she said.

"Must have been the person in front of me left their receipt," I began.

"OH! Yeah. Uh-huh."

I just looked.

"Let me see those," I asked.

She handed the receipt back to me.

"Oh, look. Trojan dry. Those are the red ones. I don't buy rubbers in the red package," I smiled.

No, that didn't help.

So, if you ever accidentally pick up an extra receipt from Walgreen's, and it happens to be a receipt ... cash receipt ... for a box of rubbers, I got no advice for you.

Other than make sure your will is in order. You just might need it.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Tastes change.

For example, I used to eat grits with salt (just a touch) and butter. Now, I eat them plain.

Circumstances caused the change in my taste. Plain grits was all I had at one time, and I got used to eating grits that way.

But, other things cause changes, too.

In Korea, they ran out of Coke one time.

Back in 1993, I was at Camp Hovey, up near the DMZ.

We could go to the PX, or one of the AAFES stores, and buy Cokes. But they also had little stands set up where we could get snacks. Including Coca-Cola.

Only, they ran out.

PX, AAFES outlets, snack bars -- all of them were out of Coke. And they didn't know when they'd get any more.

Ajussi said, "We have Pepsi."

I didn't want Pepsi.

"Doct Pepper, then?" he asked.

"Um. Yeah, okay."

And I learned to drink Dr Pepper. Because, for several weeks, there were no Cokes at Camp Hovey. Or Camp Casey (just a short PT run away).

Now, I can drink Dr Pepper. I used to couldn't drink the stuff. But I can now. Diet Dr Pepper, too.

I've always liked RC Cola, but was never too big a fan of diet drinks.

Tab (which I can now drink) used to taste awful. Diet Rite, too. And Diet Pepsi. As well as Diet Coke.

None of that stuff did I like.

Only, I outgrew it.


You see, when I graduated high school, I was 6'2'' and weighed 120 pounds.

Really. I was skinny. Wormy-looking.

I'm still 6'2'' -- but a heckuva lot heavier than 120.

And, I've been fed diet drinks. The Ex- used to buy Diet Dr Pepper, which, when I got back from Korea -- and found out about the upcoming divorce -- I was able to drink.

The Wife also will buy Diet Dr Pepper. And Diet Rite. And Diet Coke.

I'm used to the taste of diet drinks now.

Even when I'm not dieting.

And, that causes some odd sights.

Like the other day.

We were in K-Mart, and they had drinks on sale. Diet Rite.

So, the Wife picked up 4 cases of Diet Rite.

Not so much 'cause it's a lo-cal drink, but because of the taste.

It's what she ... and I ... are used to.

Oh, remember I said we weren't on a diet?

That explains the M&Ms and Double Stuff Oreos in the shopping cart.

Yes, I realize just how silly it is.

But, gosh, I think they taste good.

Not just the M&Ms.

Not just the Double Stuff Oreos.

But the Diet Rite Cola.

I know I can't be the only whose shopping cart has such mis-matched items.

Can I?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blocked from your own blog

Many blogs, including this little blog, used a plugin called Bad Behavior.

What it does is keep known spammers away.

Well, for a while this week, it was keeping several people from their own blogs. Including this little blog.

There are many different ways of preventing spam on blogs. And that's because there are many different ways of spamming blogs.

Comment spam is comments that are for the purpose, not of commenting on a post, but to use your Web space to advertise the junk they're selling.

There's another kind of comment spam that, while not selling anything, is still unrelated to your post. Those are usually attempts to find out how successful their attempts to spam are.

Sort of like the Verizon guy that says "Can you hear me now?" He's got nothing to say, just making sure he can get a message through, when he's ready to send his message.

Those spammers with the "innocent" comments, like "Really like your post. Cool!" and such, are trying out spam methods. And, if they get through, will bombard you with spam.

There's also TrackBack spam. That's when people post links to their Web sites in the TrackBack section of your blog. Similar to comment spam, just stored different.

Sometimes TrackBack spammers will link to your blog. Sometimes not. Either way, they are spamming you.

A variation of that is the aggregate spammers. It's a form of TrackBack spam where they set up a site just for advertising. They don't post anything. Instead, they take excerpts from blogs, put them on their blog or Web site, link to the various sites, and send TrackBack spam.

Those aggregate spammers are trying to use your blog to drive traffic to their site that's not a real blog.

I don't like any of them.

And that's why I use different methods of blocking spam.

I'm a paid user of Akismet. Yes, Akismet is free. But I'm a supporter of their product.

I'm also a paid user of Spam Karma 2. Yes, it's free, too. But I use ... and support ... Dr. Dave's product.

And, I'm a paid user of Bad Behavior. Yes, it's free. But, like the others, I use ... and support ... Michael Hampton's product.

They all use different methods of blocking, removing, or preventing spam.

And, this week, Bad Behavior broke.

It locked many, many folks from their blogs.

Including me.

And Michale Hampton.
In brief, yesterday I moved all of my sites to a new dedicated server. In the process, I decommissioned an old blacklist I was running which I thought wasn't being used, not realizing that Bad Behavior was still set to use it. Shortly afterward, I found myself locked out of my own blog, just as you all did.

So, if it happened to you, you know know why.

I had to log on to my server through a back-end interface, then physically remove the Bad Behavior plugin. Then I could log on to my blog.

The problem has been identified ... and fixed. And, if you use Bad Behavior, you should do what I'm doing: updating Bad Behavior.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My car sent me an email

I got an email from my car yesterday.

I've never received an email from a car before. So, it was my first time.

I was sort of expecting it. But when it came, I guess I still wasn't prepared for it.

What did the car want?

It wanted to tell me to put air in a tire.

No, really.

You see, I got a new car recently. And it came with OnStar.

Now, OnStar was not a selling factor for me. I didn't expect to get a car with OnStar. Didn't know for sure I was getting a GM car. Ford would've been fine. But, I found what I wanted ... and in the right price range ... in an Impala.

So, we got a car. And it came with OnStar. I thought it only came on a Cadillac or something. But, no, it comes with the Impala.
Well, the OnStar thing is all set up and all. And one of their features is they'll send a monthly maintenance report on the car.

Well, the first monthly maintenance report came yesterday, Tuesday, 2-1/2 days after we got the car.

And, it told me the tire pressure in the left front tire was a little low.

It's supposed to be 30 PSI. It was 26.

So, the car emailed me and told me about it.

I stopped by a BP station last night after supper, and put air in the tire.

Air used to be free. But hasn't been for a while.

The BP on Macon Road wanted 75 cents.

So, I got out, took the caps off the valves, put three quarters in the machine, then ran around, putting air in the tires, trying to read the gauge when there's no good lighting.

So, I wasn't sure what the air pressure was when I was done, just that, according to the gauge at the BP ... which only works when you're burning seconds off your 75-cent allotment ... the tires are now pretty much even.

And, it seems that 75 cents is too high a price for some people.

No one was near the air pump when we pulled in.

After I put my money in, cars started lining up to try to get my leftover seconds.

Yes, I took my own sweet time about putting the caps back on the tire valves. And adjusting my seat belt. And mirror. And looking both ways. Twice.

Anyway, now I get emails from my car.

Oh, and this means that now the Wife and the car both give me tasks to do.

Ain't technocracy great!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New car vs new truck

I mentioned the other day that we got a new car. It's a Chevy Impala.

It replaced the Chevy Lumina.

Yes, I'm a Chevy guy.

The Wife? She's a Ford girl.

She has a truck. A Ford F-150. Four door. Got it 4 years ago.

She likes her truck.

A lot.

Of course, I like the Impala.

A lot.

It's the car I been looking for. Not that we've been looking for a while. But, when we went looking, we found what we were looking for. And in the price range we were looking.

So, we got the car.

Anyway, I like the car.

But she likes her truck.

For instance, we got a Sears riding mower. An LT 3000. Not a huge lawn mower, but a decent size one.

And, first spring after we got it, we were going to take it in for servicing.

I told the Wife that I was going to put the mower on the truck and go to Sears.

She hit the ceiling.

"You're not putting that on my truck!" she insisted.

"What?" I asked.

"That's my brand-new truck and I'm not having you scratch it up by putting the lawn mower on the back," she declared.

So, we borrowed a trailer, bought a ball, and hooked it up, drove the lawn mower on the back, and took it to Sears.

Because she didn't want to use her truck as ... a truck.

But the good news, now, is the Impala has a big trunk. A real big trunk. It could hold two, maybe three, bodies. With concrete blocks and chains.

Anyway, she still doesn't want to put the lawn mower on the bed of the truck.

Maybe, when spring comes, I'll put the mower in the trunk and take it to Sears for servicing.

At least the truck won't get scratched.

Monday, December 3, 2007

College football playoff pairings

I've been promoting the best plan for a college football playoffs.

Simply put, it's the winners of the 11 major conferences taking the top 11 seeds, then 5 at-large or wild-card teams thrown into the mix, making a field of 16. Their seedings are by BCS standards. Non-BCS rated teams (the non-BCS-locked conference champs, usually) are seeded by winning percentage, then by head-to-head, then coin flip or drawing.

Keep in mind that conference champions are seeded first, then the wild-card/at-large teams. Some odd seedings, unless you consider that winning the conference is important. Just like in every other sport, at every other level.

Here are the seeds, with their conference, their record, and final BCS standings:
  1. Ohio State (Big 10; 11-1; #1)
  2. LSU (Southeastern; 11-2; #2)
  3. Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast; 11-2; #3)
  4. Oklahoma (Big 12; 11-2; #4)
  5. Southern California (Pacific 10; 10-2; #7)
  6. West Virginia (Big East; 10-2; #9)
  7. Hawaii (Western Athletic; 12-0; #10)
  8. Brigham Young (Mountain West; 10-2; #17)
  9. Central Florida (Conference USA; 10-3; NR)
  10. Central Michigan (Mid American; 7-5; NR)
  11. Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt; 7-5; NR)
  12. Georgia (wild card, Southeastern; 10-2; #5)
  13. Missouri (wild card, Big 12; 11-2; #6)
  14. Kansas (wild card, Big 12; 11-1; #8)
  15. Arizona State (wild card, Pacific 10; 10-2; #11)
  16. Florida (wild card, Southeastern; 9-3; #12)
Notice that the top 12 teams in the final BCS standings all make the cut, with the number 17 team, and 3 unranked teams (but conference champions) filling it out.

However, does it seem right that Florida Atlantic or Central Michigan are seeded above Georgia, Missouri, et al?

Of course not.

Except that they won their conference. And winning the conference means something. And you get rewarded. Just like in every other sport. At every other level.

So, with those seedings, here are the pairings.
  • Florida at Ohio State
  • Arizona State at LSU
  • Kansas at Virginia Tech
  • Missouri at Oklahoma
  • Georgia at Southern California
  • Florida Atlantic at West Virginia
  • Central Michigan at Hawaii
  • Central Florida at Brigham Young
Of those 8 games, 5 should be good games. 3 should be blow-outs. However, in this crazy year with this crazy game called college football, you never know what would happen.

Anyhow, the 8 winners would play the following week. The top 4 remaining seeds would host the bottom 4 remaining seeds. Oh, and the 8 losers would get bowl invitations. Pretty good bowl invitations, in all likelihood.

The "final four" would play in conjunction with a bowl, in my plan. And the championship game could be a bowl, or a separate game. Don't matter.

I like my plan much better than what they got going on today.

Any team -- even Central Florida, Central Michigan, or Florida Atlantic -- that makes it through that tournament, deserves to be called national champions.

You can't spell BCS without 'B-S'

So, they've concluded the regular season ... and the conference championships ... and they have picked the two teams to play for the college football championship.

And, again, they got it wrong.


Because the system is fundamentally flawed.

For example, Ohio State got into the game because the teams above them lost. Georgia, right behind Ohio State, didn't.

Georgia was left out because they didn't win their conference. Never mind that Nebraska (in 2001) and Okalahoa (in 2003) also played for the national championship after not winning their conference.

LSU, who the pollsters said was 3 spots worse than Georgia before Saturday, jumped over Georgia to make it to the title game.

Against Ohio State. Who will get creamed by an SEC team ... again ... this year.

So, Georgia, who was assured of playing in any BCS bowl game other than the Sugar Bowl ... plays in the Sugar Bowl. Against Hawaii. Who the Dawgs will beat by a couple of touchdowns. If not more.

LSU, the second-best team in the SEC plays for the national championship.

Why do I call them the second-best team in the SEC? Because if they played Georgia this Saturday, Georgia would win. You know it. I know it. Mark Richt knows it. And Les Miles knows it.

Ohio State? They'd lose to UGA. And Tennessee. And Florida. And Arkansas. And ... will lose to LSU. You know it. I know it. Les Miles knows it. And Jim Tressel knows it. Or will find out soon enough.

But, the pollsters screwing over a quality program for another program? It's happened before.

In 1978 (after the 1977 regular season), Notre Dame, ranked number five, beat number one Texas in the Cotton Bowl, 38-10.

Alabama, ranked number two, beat Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, 35-6.

So, who ended up number one? Notre Dame.


Because they were Notre Dame.

Why didn't Alabama move up from number two to number one? Because they weren't Notre Dame.

Same reason Ohio State made the jump from number three to number one. Because they are Ohio State.

Same reason Georgia didn't make the jump from number four to number two. Because they aren't Ohio State.

Oh, well.

Maybe when everything's all said and done, the Dawgs will end up number two.

If West Virginia beats Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

And if Kansas beats Virginia Tech Orange Bowl.

Unless Missouri beats Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Or Southern California beats Illinois in the Rose Bowl.

Of course, if they had a playoff...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More Christmas music

I mentioned earlier that I wasn't a huge fan of Christmas music.

Oh, sure, it's fine. Just that I don't get all school-girl giddy over it, like some folks do.

But there's another aspect of Christmas music that I didn't touch on.

That's music given as a Christmas gift.

For instance, I gave the Wife a couple of CDs for Christmas a while back. She really enjoys her Christmas music. She also loves a music box. And I found a couple of CDs that fit the bill, including a CD of Christmas music on a music box.

She loved them.

And, music is a common gift for Christmas.

Though I won't go into the details, Snuffie (if you've followed along, you know she's a member of the family) likes her music. And among the things she's getting for Christmas is some music.

Others, too, are getting music, or related items. Not just that, but that's part of what many are getting.

Me, too.

The Wife has picked out some music for me.

I used to have all the Beatles albums.

Yes, albums.

You know, the large, 12" pieces of vinyl that you put on the record player and listened to.

Yeah, I know. Some of you have no idea what I'm talking about.

But it's how music used to come.

And I had all the Beatles albums.

Okay, not all.

I didn't have Beatles Story a make-a-buck-quick LP put out by Capitol Records. Or Introducing... the Beatles, a collection of Beatles stuff that made it to America before the Beatles hit it big. My Big Sister (who's 5'4'') had them, though.

But, all the other albums? Yep, I owned them.

Meet the Beatles, Beatles Second Album, A Hard Day's Night, Something New, Beatles '65, Beatles VI, Help!, Rubber Soul ... okay you get the picture. I had all their U.S. releases.

And, their hits collections. Like 1962-1966 (also called the Red Album) and 1967-1970 (also called the Blue Album). I even had second copies of the Red, White (The Beatles), and Blue albums that were pressed on respective colored vinyl.

Even had the late re-issues like Reel Music, Rock and Roll Music, and such.

But that was a while back. As far as I know, the Ex- still has them. Probably over at her mother's old house. Or her other mother's house.

Now, I don't have a lot of Beatles music. I do have the Hard Day's Night CD. The British version, not the U.S. version with 4 instrumental tracks.

And 1, the 27 number one hits of the Fab Four.

But that's pretty much it.

However, I do know that I'm getting music for Christmas.

I'm getting the Red and Blue albums. Or CD, I should say. And, I think, another. Rubber Soul. Or maybe Revolver.

And I will enjoy them.

Plus, this year, I'll be able to play them in the car.

You see, my Christmas presents include a CD player in the car.

It came with the new 2008 Impala that's in the front yard.

Christmas music

The Wife loves Christmas music.

She's gathered her Christmas CDs together, and is waiting on me to get off her computer (my MacBook's not back from the shop) so she can put together a Christmas music playlist for her iPod.

Me? Not so much.

That is, I doubt I'll be adding a bunch of Christmas songs to my iPod. Sure, there's "Happy Xmas" by John Lennon on there, but that's because I've put my John Lennon CDs on my iPod. No other reason.

I hear plenty on the radio. When I listen to the radio.

I hear plenty in the stores. When I'm in the stores.

I don't know. I've just never been much on listening to Christmas music.

Sure, I'll sing Christmas carols with the children ... or the grandchildren, now. And I'll go watch the Nutcracker ballet or other holiday productions. So, it's not like I don't like Christmas music. I just don't go out of my way to listen to Christmas music.

But, Christmas music was something that I encountered yesterday.

We went shopping yesterday. The Wife and me.

And that meant hearing a bunch of Christmas music. Which was fine.

Only problem was the drivers of the other cars. Most of them, anyway.

I'm not saying Christmas music makes them drive crazy. Because a lot of them drive crazy in July, March, and all the other months far away from Christmas.

I now it's just the fact that so many people are out on the roads, that increases the number of idiots on the roads.

And in the parking lots.

And in the stores.

No, it's not the fault of Christmas music. And I'm not trying to suggest it is.

It's just all the crazies that are out when Christmas music is playing.

The Wife is ready for me to get off her computer so that she can finish her Christmas music playlist. So she can get her CDs back and playing in her CD player that she has blaring through the house.

And even money says one or two crazies show up at the front door today.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hey, Apple! I could've told you that!

Hmmm. Seems that Apple is reporting issues with some MacBook hard drives.

I found a story on PC World about it. The story was also on MacWorld, of course, but that's somehow harder to navigate for me.

They seem to be not overly concerned, Why?

... it doesn't appear to be a widespread problem, Apple said it has "received a few reports that some MacBook consumer notebooks may have hard drive issues, and we're looking into it."

Not "widespread?"

Okay, I'll believe that. They seem to be keeping the problem focused on a few select individuals.

Like me.

My MacBook went down in early October, then again this week.

The October issue was definitely the hard drive. I haven't received confirmation that the current problem is the hard drive, but I strongly suspect it is.

Booting in verbose mode, I see the word "mount" appear a lot on the two lines that seem to display over and over. And, when I boot from the OS disk, the hard drive isn't visible.

So, yeah, I'm thinking it's a hard drive. But, I gotta remember, I'm PC Guy. Have been for over a quarter of a century. So, I can't say I know as much about these Apple thingies as I do those PC thingies.

But I know when it doesn't work.

Still, I can't say that the problem I'm having is related to the issue reported by Retrodata. Because I can't check the firmware. Because the Mac is broken.

But my packing slip does show it is a SATA drive, so that much matches.

If you have a MacBook, you might want to look into your configuration and see if you're in danger of losing all your stuff.

Like I did.

Others report on the same issue: Information Week, Apple Insider.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More calls for a college football playoff

Yahoo! sports columnist Dan Wetzel called for a college football playoff this week. And his plan is closest to the plan I've been promoting for a couple of years.

Wetzel calls for a 16-team tournament. The 11 conference champions, plus 5 at-large teams. He'd seed them in BCS standings order (or some similar formula).

I've been suggesting almost the same thing. The 11 conference champs, plus 5 at-large teams. Only, I'd follow the NFL pattern of the conference champs taking the top spots, and the at-large teams taking the bottom slots.

In the NFL, the division champs take the top sports, in a seeding order based on record. They fill in with "wild card" teams, the best teams that didn't win the division.

Mine is similar. The college "at-large" teams would be the equivalent of the "wild card" teams. That's the reason I say put them at the bottom of the seedings.

Wetzel removes the playoff teams from the bowls. I don't. My plan allows teams bumped in the first round ... or even the first two rounds ... to remain bowl-bound.

For instance, most would expect the MAC, Sun Belt, or C-USA champs to be bumped in the first or second round. They'd still get a bowl invite. I mean, the GMAC Bowl or the Las Vegas bowl wouldn't mind having a playoff team playing, would they?

Wetzel says lots of folks have supported his plan. I'm not in that group. Not 100%, that is.

His plan is better than the current BCS screwed up situation. But I think mine's better. But Wetzel's plan is close. Awfully close.

Again with the hard drive?

The MacBook is down. Again.

That's twice. Since I got it in early August.

No, I'm not a happy camper.

Shut the MacBook down yesterday prior to heading to work. Brought it with me, so that, at lunch, I could get online and check some stuff.

At lunch, I turned the MacBook on, and ... nothing.

Okay, not nothing.

Got the white/gray screen with the Apple logo, and the little "busy wheel" or whatever that thing's called.

And nothing more.

Initial diagnosis was an operating system problem. According to the Apple-authorized technician I spoke with, some Leopard upgrades (and mine game with Tiger -- OS X 10.4 -- and was upgraded to Leopard -- OSX 10.5) had similar issues.

So, since I didn't have my Leopard disks with me, he gave me instructions that I could use when I got home.

And, following those instructions (an Archive and Reinstall, which is essentially a re-installation of the operating system, keeping current settings), I discovered there was no hard drive being recognized.

A couple of months ago, the hard drive went out. Lost everything.

Now, it seems there may be another hard drive issue.

I got all my disks with me to take when I go by the Apple repair place at lunch.

You know, I really do like my MacBook.

When it works.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


One of the things about changing the way you eat ... or drink ... is that it can have a long-lasting effect.

For instance, when in the Army, I found a change to the way I ate certain things.

Grits, for instance.

I always ate grits with butter and salt.

Oh, I wouldn't always add salt to my grits. If cooked properly ... in water salted just right ... the grits have enough salt to give them that ... certain something ... that makes them the wonderful Southern dish we all know and love.

Okay, you might not love grits. Or even know grits; that is, you may not have ever eaten properly prepared grits.

But, I always added butter to my grits.

However, if you ever find yourself in, say, some desert in some Muslim country, you might not find grits readily available.

Unless they are instant grits.

Never was a fan of instant grits. But instant grits are better than no grits at all.

So, in the Army, in the desert, I'd have to eat instant grits.

And, sometimes, there'd be salt or butter. And sometimes not.

So, I learned to eat grits without salt and butter.

Oh, I'll still eat salt and butter with my grits. If they're fixed that way. Like at IHOP or some other place that serves grits.

But I won't put salt and butter on my grits. I can eat them plain. And I'm not sure that's a good thing.

In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Breakfast at McDonald's

Sometimes, the Wife and I will stop for breakfast at McDonald's. I like the Sausage McMuffins, and the Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuits.

Oh, and the Big Breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuit). And the Deluxe Breakfast (Big Breakfast, plus hotcakes). Or the Sausage Gravy & Biscuits.

We'll sometimes hit the drive-through. That's when I get the biscuit sandwiches. Or the McMuffin thingy.

But, sometimes, if we have time -- which means if we leave for work early enough -- we'll go in, sit down, and eat.

That's when I get the Big Breakfast or the Deluxe Breakfast.

The thing about McDonald's is that you know what you're going to get. And get the same quality food every time.

Now, sure, it's not great food. I mean, unless you're a pre-teen, it's not a big deal to go eat at McDonald's.

Still, the food's actually pretty good. Not necessarily good for you, but I don't care. It's as good as any food at any other place to eat. Unless you eat at one of those hippie joints where the lack of good food makes your brain go soft so that you vote for Democrats.

Eating at McDonald's is fine. And it's a great place to take the kids. Or the grandkids. And the breakfast is pretty good, too.

Okay, to tell the truth, I like Hardee's breakfast better, but McDonald's is on the way, and it's still pretty good.

And like I said, you can take the kids.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, you run into things you usually only see at a Wal-Mart at 2:00 AM.

McJammiesLike folks walking around in their pajamas.

Yes, that happens sometimes. Like the other day.

The Wife and I left for work early, and decided to eat breakfast on the way. And we stopped at McDonald's.

We went in, ordered the food, then sat down to eat.

I went back to get a refill on my drink, and ran into the Pajama Woman.

I don't know if she shows up at McDonald's in her pajamas a lot. I just ran into her the one time.

So, I'll still stop on occasion at McDonald's to eat breakfast.

I'm not looking forward to running into her again.

I guess I should be thankful that it was cold weather, and she had her long pajamas on. I don't want to know what she sleeps in come summertime.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How to be a dumbass III

I have been known to do stupid things.

Sometimes, it's because I thought something was funny, but it was just stupid.

Other times, it's because I just made a bone-headed decision.

And then, sometimes, it's because I wasn't thinking. Or thinking about something other than what I was doing.

That happened recently. Again.

I mentioned how busy I've been at work. Well, it's one of those things where, if things go right, I'm very busy. If things go wrong, I'm even busier.

Well, some things went wrong, and I had to go in early to resolve an issue. And by early, I mean earlier than the normal "get to work by 8:30" kind of early. Like, the phone ringing at 4-something, notifying me of a problem.

A quick troubleshooting process over the phone determined that the issue was an issue I needed to handle. And that meant coming in to work early. Like, right then.

So, a quick shower and I'm off to work.

I had my iPod with me, because it's nice to have some music to listen to while I'm working away by myself. And, I decided to listen to it on the ride into work. I have one of those things that allows it to play through the radio.

When I pulled into the parking garage, I found a spot near the door and backed into it. I like pulling forward out of the spaces, because some folks will run over you if you try to back out.

Anyway, after backing into the space, I put the earbuds into my ears, grabbed the iPod from the dock, put it into my pocket. Then I grabbed all my papers and stuff and got out of the car.

I had that nagging feeling that I had forgotten something.

Oh, well. I'd find out later.

Anyway, into work. And, after an hour, the issue was resolved to the point of things working like they were supposed to. Then, into the research into why things went wrong in the first place, so we could prevent it from happening again.

Around 6:30, I reached into my pocket and noticed my keys were missing.

Ah, so that's what I forgot.

I felt sure that I had locked the doors, so that would mean that I hadn't just left my keys in the car, I had locked the keys in the car.

Boy, what a dumbass, right?


So, what do do about it?

Well, the Wife would be leaving for work in about an hour. She was probably getting up about this time, and I figured I'd wait until she was ready and everything, then ask her to bring the spare keys. After I verified that I had indeed locked the keys in.

About that time, another person I worked with was there and we had to follow a troubleshooting path. It took a while.

Next thing I knew, it was a little after 9:00, and the Wife was already at work.

Oh, well. I'd call her at lunch and get her to run the keys down here.

As 11:30 approached -- early for lunch for us, except for me on this day, since my day began really early -- I called. No answer.

So, I headed out the door, figuring I'd walk down to where she worked, get the keys, and unlock the car.

As I passed the parking garage, I could see my car.

The headlights were on.

So, not only had I locked the keys in the car, I left the headlights on.

The good news was the lights were still on. That meant the battery wasn't dead. Yet.

I went into the parking garage instead, moving straight for the car.

I felt heat.

And heard a noise.

Yes, not only did I lock the keys in the car ... not only did I leave the headlights on ... I left the engine running.

For hours.

A look into the window showed that the car wasn't overheated. Yet. Temperature was up there, though.

Another call on the cell to the Wife. Still no answer.

So, I began walking that way.

Kept calling the whole time. Phone ringing. No answer.

Finally, after I entered the building and entering the elevator to head to her floor, she answered.

Got her to bring me the spare keys, then headed back out.

Waked back to work, to the parking garage, and finally go the keys out.

I've done some things before that show just how big a dumbass I can be.

This is way up there.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Got to thinking about stealth recently.

No, not because I've been hiding for a couple of weeks.

Okay, I haven't been hiding. I've been busy. With work.

I made the decision when I started this little blog to not blog about work. And that wasn't a problem.

Oh, occasionally, I'd mention the Evil Corporation where I work. Not that it's really evil. But it is a large corporation. And, to hear some folks talk, all large corporations are evil corporations. Therefore, when I' mentioned the place I work, I'd mention the Evil Corporation.

I like where I work. It's, well, I don't know if "fun" is the right word, but I enjoy what I do. And the folks I work with.

But, I'm not going to blog about work. I don't blog at work. And I don't blog about work. Blog and work are separate.

So, why do I spend all this time talking about what I'm not going to talk about.

Well, if I didn't blog about work, I wouldn't have a whole lot to blog about right now.

And that explains why I haven't blogged about much lately. I haven't been in stealth mode. Not on purpose, anyway.

Tonight, though, I ran across something else about stealth.

It's my MacBook.

Or, actually, it's the wireless router.

It began when I found about about Apple's update to Leopard.

Now, being a PC Guy since, well, a quarter of a century, I'm not used to operating systems known as things like "Tiger" or "Leopard."

MS-DOS 2.11.

Now, that's a name for an operating system.

It was the first PC operating system I had.

Oh, I had a Tandy Color Computer running OS 9 before that. But, when I moved onto a "mainstream" platform, it was DOS 2.11.

And Windows 2.03.

That was the first edition of Windows I used.

So, calling an operating system "Leopard" takes some getting used to.

If you're still PC Guy, it's Mac OS X 10.5.1

But they call it "Leopard."

Same thing.

Anyway, Apple released an update to OS X 10.5 on Wednesday. But I didn't know about it, until I got an email from ZD Net talking about it.

I have the MacBook set to check for updates weekly. So, it would have caught the update in the next 5 days ... or sooner.

But, I forced an update check today. And it got it.

After reboot, I checked out the main thing ZD Net was talking about -- the firewall.

I made sure it was in stealth mode, then did something I hadn't done in a while.

I went to Gibson Research and checked out Shields Up!

And was I ever shocked to find out I failed.

Was the firewall screwed up?

No, it turns out the firewall is fine. Or at least, I think it's fine.

But a couple weeks ago, I got a new router: The Apple AirPort Extreme.

Powerful little thing. Great signal all over the house. Like it.

But, as it turns out, it's not stealthy.

The old Motorola router that cost half what the AirPort cost was stealthy.

Used to be able to go to GRC, run Shields Up!, and get a "passed" report. That meant all ports were in stealth mode.

If you're not familiar with that, it might help to know that the Internet is a bunch of computers communicating with each other. But you knew that.

When it was put together, it assumed that all machines talking to all other machines was a good thing.

They forgot one little thing: people would be using those machines.

And some people are mean people. That's why we have to be on our guard against thieves, spammers, hackers, and Democrats.

Anyhow, because some people are like some people are, we don't want our computers to always respond positively to all other computers.

Because, if they did, bad people could put bad things on your computer. And we don't want that.

One way of stopping it is to not let computers respond to all requests.

And, there are a couple of ways to do that.

One is with a software firewall. Microsoft includes a simple software firewall with Windows. And other companies sell more powerful ones. And Apple includes a firewall with OS X. Including an update in OS X 10.5.1.

The other way is with a hardware firewall. And many routers, including my old Motorola router, as well as my older Netgear one, have built-in firewalls.

But Apple's AirPort Extreme router doesn't operating in stealth mode.

Tonight, researching it, I ran across a post at the Houston Chronicle from back in May talking about the previous version of the AirPort Extreme. And they take a classical "on the fence" position.

And, I admit, I see both sides of it.

But, they bring up the same thing that concerns me.

Which is, how big a deal is it if an address -- and your computer on the Internet does have an address -- rejects a request to a port, as opposed to not responding at all.

Here's one way to look at it.

A kidnapper walks up to a house and asks, "Can I come in?"

Now, the kidnapper doesn't want to visit. He wants to kidnap someone. He's a kidnapper. But he's acting all nice and polite and asking to come in.

Now, if he walks up to two houses. One blue and one green.

He asks each house, "Can I come in?"

From the blue house, he gets no response. From the green house, he hears a voice say, "No, you can't come in."

Now, tell me, which house is he more likely to keep trying to enter?

I think he'll keep trying the green house. He knows there is someone there.

And, to me, that's the difference in a firewall responding with a refusal or just not responding at all.

And the not responding? That's "stealth" mode.

That's what I'd prefer.

But, Apple says it's okay.

Me? I'm not so sure. I think I'd rather be stealthy on the Internet. And not by going two weeks between blog posts.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Driving back from Athens

I mentioned earlier about the ease of the drive to Athens this morning.

The drive back was not quite as easy.

Following the football game, the Little Princess took me out to supper at Weaver D's. If you've been to Athens and haven't eaten at Weaver D's, you've missed some good eatin'.

Anyway, I got in the car and started out around 6:00. Nearly 5 hours later, I sat down on the couch at the house.

Just over 3 hours to get there. Nearly 5 hours to get back.

No, the distance didn't change any. But the flow of traffic did.

Don't know if it was all the folks from Alabama -- the Bulldogs hosted Troy -- heading back all at one time. Or if that's what traffic is normally like following a game in Athens.

But it was rough.

10-15 MPH at spots.

Early day. Late drive back.

But a really nice visit in between.

Made the drive worthwhile.

Driving to Athens

My daughter called last night. The Little Princess was asking about the Wife and me driving over to Athens today. Seems there's a football game gong on. UGA is taking on Troy. Should be a blowout. But you never know.

Anyway, I could make the trip. But the Wife couldn't. Oldest granddaughter has her 8th birthday tomorrow, and the Wife is doing the cake. So, she needed to stay at home and get all that together.

So, I drove over alone.

I haven't been to a lot of Georgia football games. Was at the 1980 game where Lindsay Scott caught the touchdown pass to beat Florida. The Sugar Bowl in New Orleans that following January, where they won the national championship. Was also at the "1st and 99" Georgia-Florida game a couple of years later. And, I think, one other UGA game.

But that's it.

And never at a game in Athens.

So, this morning, I wasn't sure what I'd run into in way of traffic.

Turns out, it wasn't all that bad. Left the house just before 7:00 and got to Athens around 10:00. And, by 10:30, had parked at some coffee house, put money in the meter, hit the ATM, ordered a cinnamon roll and a Coke, pulled out the trusty MacBook, and was blogging just after 10:30.

So, traffic wasn't all that bad.

Except one small stretch of road.

After I got off I-85 and onto GA-316, I noticed the right lane was moving much faster than the left lane. And I was in the left lane.

Now, if you're not familiar with GA-316, it's a large highway. Divided by a median. Sort of like an interstate highway, but it does have the occasional traffic lights.

Right-hand lane sometimes has a turn lane. Left lane always does. So, it follows that there'd be less traffic issues in the left lane. But the left lane was moving slow.

Speed limit was 65, and we were moving between 50 and 55, depending on how close or stretched out traffic got.

But the right lane was moving right along.

Knowing it shouldn't be that way, I figured whatever it was would clear up and I'd be fine, so I might as well stay in the left lane.

Then, my patience ran out.

So, an opening was there ... a long stretch, actually ... and I moved into the right lane.

I sped up to 65 and was moving much faster than the left lane.

Then, I found out why.

Pick the one of these that you think it was:
  1. Road construction.
  2. A wreck.
  3. A blue-haired lady driving a Chrysler with a Bartow County tag in the left lane.
If you picked "C" then you're a winner.

Anyway, once I got past her, traffic was fine. Other than actually in downtown Athens.

I was surprised how well it went. Of course, the fact that almost everyone was going to the game ... or a game-related event ... in Athens may have worked in my favor.

One Auburn fan must have thought the traffic was really bad, and decided to get a one-week head start. Or they can't read a calendar. I'm not sure which.

Anyway, until downtown Athens, the traffic was pretty good. Encountered one intersection where some idiot pulled out and had all four paths of traffic blocked for a little bit.

But, the trip wasn't a bad trip after all. And the game's in a couple of hours. So, I got to go get ready for that.

It should be great.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Overthinking things

I mentioned that I've been really busy.

Really busy.

Lots of stuff going on at work. And some issues arising that have caused them to call me in at like 4:00 in the morning. But, hey, it comes with the territory.

And, there's a couple of projects I've been working on at home. One with another blog. Actually, a couple. One after another. And the other project is a family thing. And they've taken my time from this little blog.


Oh, and we've been switching computers around here at the house.

The Wife has a Dell desktop computer that she's been using. But, we took that down this week. Tonight, in fact.

She's now using the Dell notebook. It's newer than the desktop, and as powerful. Actually, a slightly more powerful machine. And, she likes that she can unplug it, put it on a tray, and sit in another chair or on the couch and do her computer work.

Not to mention that it takes up very little space on the desk. Her big CRT (that's a monitor, Big Sister; that's the TV-looking thing, Mean Sister) is no longer taking up all that space. And no big bunch of wires hanging down, running from the monitor, or from the keyboard, or from the speakers, over to the CPU.

Her desk almost looks clean. At least, you can now see the desk.

She's happy with the switch.

But the timing of it ... well, it's one of the things wearing me out.

Out with the Tiger, in with the Leopard

You see, Apple just released OS X 10.5 ... known as "Leopard" ... and I updated my MacBook.

I like Leopard. It actually allows me to use my old HP LaserJet 1100. You see, that old printer isn't compatible with a Mac. You must have a Windows computer to use it.

Well, you used to.

Leopard ... or OSX 10.5, as the PC Guy in me likes to call it ... has drivers for that printer. So, now, I finally have a laser printer on the Mac.

And the operating system upgrade ... even though it went very smooth ... has been another thing going on.

But, there's something else going on.

Running through the AirPort

Since we've been having problems with the old Motorola router, I got the new Apple AirPort Extreme.

This week.

Yesterday, in fact.

And it ran into an issue.

Well, I ran into an issue.

You see, it appears that when you change routers with BellSouth DSL and a Westell modem, you have to reset it. Twice.

At least, that's what the folks at BellSouth tech support had me do when I called them when I couldn't get online with the new router.

Anyway, once everything was working, I was very pleased that from anywhere in the house, we were getting a very strong signal and full speed. The old wireless router began to lose a little signal beyond the door to the bedroom.

So, it's a good thing.

It's just the timing of it all.

Network printing

One thing I overlooked, though, was the printer.

You see, the laser printer is in the office on the far side of the house. Where the DSL modem and the router is.

And the printer is hooked up to a D-Link printer server, that's hooked into the router.

So, tonight, I was going to print something. And that's when I realized I needed to hook the printer server up to the AirPort (the router).

So, I plugged it into a LAN connection, and went to check the configuration.

That's when I realized I didn't know how to do that.

So, looking up on the D-Link Web site, I found that my printer server works with Windows. But not with Mac OS X.

So, I began researching other printer servers, trying to find one that worked with Mac. I found a document that I downloaded to read up on it.

Then, it hit me.

I had never even tried to print.

I had already printed on the old network, just not on the new network.

So, with the document open, I clicked print.

And it printed.

I hadn't done the simplest thing: trying it.

And, when I did, it worked.

And that's how things have been with the MacBook. Everything I've wanted to do, I've been able to do with very little difficulty. And I've found it easy to do.

And almost every time I've had a problem, it's because I was in PC Guy mode. I assumed it didn't work until I configured things.

I've been overthinking things.

It's a habit that's been hard to break, after 25 years of using MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Cold Hard Facts of Life

Porter Wagoner died this weekend.

I missed that. Didn't find out until this afternoon. Been busy. Way busy. And still busy.

But, I just feel I need to talk for a minute about Porter Wagoner.

If you don't know who Porter Wagoner was, you missed a showman. You don't have to like country music ... heck, I don't ... to appreciate Porter.

He knew his audience, he loved his audience, and his audience loved him.

He had the rhinestone-studded outfit, the big country music hair.

Porter Wagoner looked the part. And he lived the part.

We used to watch Porter Wagoner back when he had his show on TV.

Now, you might be wondering why I'd watch The Porter Wagoner Show if I didn't like the music.

Well, you gotta remember ... this was back when folks had just one TV. Hooked up to an antenna. And when the knob fell off and was lost, you had to get a pair of pliers to change the channel.

Yeah, we're talking a while back.

And we ... my sisters and me ... didn't control the TV. The grown-ups did. And they watched Porter Wagoner.

I'd half-watch it. I'd pay attention when Speck Rhodes came on. He was the comedian, you see. And, well, comedians are funny. Or, they have to be if they last. And he lasted the entire run of the show. So, yeah, he was funny. And we'd watch.

Sort of like on the Jackie Gleason Show. I didn't pay much attention until Crazy Guggenheim came on.

Anyway, we'd watch Porter Wagoner.

My great-grandmother, "Ma," liked Porter and his singing partner, Norma Jean. She didn't know that Porter was cheating on his wife with Norma Jean. She knew that there was trouble around the same time that Norma Jean left the show and Dolly Parton showed up. And, I think that Ma suspected that Dolly was the problem.

Whether or not she thought Dolly was a home-wrecker, she always called her "a hussy."

Might have been the tight outfits that showed off Dolly's assets. Might have been thinking Dolly was screwing Porter (she wasn't). But Ma never did like Dolly.

I might have watched the show when Dolly came on. For a couple of reasons.

But, even with the others on the show -- Speck Rhodes, Norma Jean or Dolly Parton, the square dancers that always featured some little pre-teen girl out-dancing the grown folks, the musical guests -- Porter was always the star.

Last year, I saw Porter Wagoner hosting a segment of the Grand Ole Opry. And he was in charge.

He worked the audience and gave all the attention and applause to the guests. And running a live radio/TV show, he timed it perfectly. That impressed the heck out of me. Not bad for anyone, to say nothing about a man nearly 80 years old doing it.

Like I said, I was never a fan of country music.

But, Porter Wagoner was a star. Not just a country music star.

He was a star.

And I'll miss him.

Friday, October 19, 2007

BellSouth Tech Support

Switched from Windows to Mac ... for my computer at least ... back in August. Things have gone pretty well. Takes some getting used to, but it's not the drastic change I thought it would be.

That's not to say there haven't been issues.

For one thing, the hard drive crashed. Now, support was good. Took it to the shop on a Tuesday, and it went off to repair (in Memphis, I think) and was back in my hands 48 hours later. That's not bad turnaround.

But, this week, I had the pleasure of trying to get support from BellSouth regarding my MacBook.

"Why?" you might ask.

Go ahead and ask. I'll wait.

Well, since you asked, I'm not always at home. And this week, I had need to dial in to the Internet.

Using a telephone line.

You know. Hit "connect." It goes beep-bip-bip-beep-beep-bip-bip-bip-beep-beep. Then it squeals. First a medium, then quickly a low, then a high pitched squeal.

Then it stops squealing and the word "connected" comes on the screen.

Ah, dial-up. The good old days.

Yes, I know. Many people connect via dial-up today.

But I don't.

But I did. Had to. Yesterday.

Got to try out my fancy Apple modem. And it worked.

Only, it seems, I haven't set up a dial-up connection in a long, long time. And never on a Mac.

So, naturally, I messed up.

Did get a screen in my browser that told me I needed to reset my password.


Reset my password?

Okay, I thought. Somebody at BellSouth has gone security crazy. Not that anything's wrong with security. Security is a good thing.

If done right.

Anyway, it told me I needed to use Internet Explorer to do that.

And, in case you missed it, I have a Mac.

Okay, to tell the truth, I do have Internet Explorer on my Mac. I have a utility called "Parallels" on my Mac. It lets me run other operating systems inside a window on my Mac.

And I have Windows XP installed. And, of course, it comes with Internet Explorer.

So, yeah, I have IE.

Only, the thing is, Windows XP won't work with an Apple modem. Unless I download a driver. From the Internet. Which I can't connect to unless the modem works to reset my BellSouth dial-up password.

Need the modem to get the driver to be able to use the modem.

So, I called BellSouth tech support.

First guy I spoke to didn't accomplish a whole lot, other than help me reset the password on the account.

But it still wouldn't dial in.

So, he connected me to another group.

They were sales, or something.

They apologized and sent me back to tech support.

This new guy was much more helpful. By the time he was done, I was online, doing what I needed to do.

And that was all well and good. Until I got home.

Was tired, and didn't write anything up after I got home.

Until this morning.

And I couldn't get online.

Instead, I got the "BellSouth password reset" screen.

Well, called them tonight. And, as it turned out, I needed to reset the password on the router.

Of course, it took them a bit to understand that I had a Mac, not a Windows machine.

Okay, yes, I could have gone over to the Wife's Dell. But I didn't feel like it.

Anyway, finally got the DSL modem reset. And the password on the router set. The little girl did good, once she understood the situation.

And now I'm back online.

Lucky you.

Football IV. For my Big Sister. Who's 5'4''

Because my Big Sister (who's 5'4'') wanted me to, I'm writing about football.

She likes football. Or thinks she does. I'm not sure.

Anyway, we talked about starting the game. And we got as far as putting the ball in play.


The most common football play is the run.

The quarterback, who stands behind the center, receives the snap and the play starts.

On a run, he'll usually give the ball to a runner. Often called a running back.

The "back" part is because he's behind (or back of) the line of scrimmage.

Traditionally, their are four backs, though that's not quite as common these days ... or for the last 40 years.

The back that's back the most is the fullback. The one (or two) that are not as far back are the halfbacks. And the back that's closest to the center is the quarterback. And any could take the snap from center.

Or it used to be.

Nowdays, the quarterback is just the guy that takes the snap. Often, there's no "fullback" in the traditional sense. When there is, he's often called the tailback.

But they are all (except the quarterback) called running backs, because the original meanings don't usually apply anymore.

Anyway, the quarterback takes the ball and will usually hand it off to a running back. He can run with it himself, if he wants to, but often, he's some high-paid prima donna who doesn't want to break a nail.

So, the running back takes the handoff (or a lateral or backwards toss from the quarterback) and runs with it.

Other player can block for the runner. They can't grab a defender (that's called "holding" and is a 10-15 yard penalty, depending on where it occurs). They can't block the defender from behind (that's called "clipping" and is a 15-yard penalty). They have to face them man-to-man.

The defender tries to knock the runner down, or out of bounds.

If the runner falls on his own in high school ball, he's down and the play is over. But in the college and pro game, he can get back up and run some more, if he's not down because of a defender's actions.

The runner is down if any part of his body other than hands or feet touch the ground.

Then, the play is over, and they huddle up and do another play.

The pass

It's legal to throw the ball downfield. But there are restrictions.

We talked earlier about ineligible receivers. They can't be downfield when the ball is thrown forward.

Oh, by the way, note that I said "thrown forward." That's a forward pass. When someone says "pass," they usually mean "forward pass."

A backward or lateral pass is not a forward pass, and can occur any time the ball is in play.

A forward pass can only occur if the passer (often the quarterback, but it really can be any player) has not advanced past the line of scrimmage ... and if a forward pass has not already been thrown.

Only one forward pass can occur on a single play.

Only eligible receivers can touch a thrown ball (unless and until a defender touches the ball while it's in the air).

If a pass is dropped without the receiver having obtained full possession of the ball, it's an incomplete pass and the play is over.

If a defender catches a pass, it's an interception, and they become the offense at the conclusion of the play.

Oh, no player (offense or defense) can interfere with another player (offense or defense) trying to catch a pass. Interference can be hitting the man before the ball reaches him. Or it can be waving arms in his face.

The key thing, though, is that both offense and defense are allowed to catch the pass. Hitting a player while you are in the act of catching a pass is not interference. Hitting a player while you are getting ready to catch a pass is.


We said that a pass caught by the defense is an interception.

Well, if a runner (or receiver who has caught a pass) drops the ball, it's a fumble. Either team can recover a fumble.

If the defense recovers the fumble, play continues until the player with possession of the ball is down, then they become the offense.

If the offense recovers the fumble, play continues as normal.


Each team gets four tries to move the ball 10 yards. In the U.S., at least. In Canada, they get three tries.

Each try is a "down." When a team gets possession of the ball, their first play is "first down." And if they get 10 yards, the count of downs starts over.

For example, it's 1st and 10. (First down, with 10 yards to go for another first down.)

The team throws a pass, and it's incomplete.

Now, it's 2nd and 10. (Incomplete pass costs a down, but no gain or loss of yardage.)

They run the ball, picking up 7 yards.

Now, it's 3rd and 3. (They have 3 more yards to go for another first down.)

A pass is complete for 12 yards.

Well, since they got more than 10 yards net yardage on that series of downs, it's 1st and 10 again.

Now, let's say the next play is a run, but the runner is tackled 6 yards behind the line.

It's now 2nd and 16. (They need 16 yards to net 10 total yards, since they stand at -6.)

A pass is complete for 20 yards.

It's 1st and 10.

It keeps going this way until they turn the score or turn the ball over.

Let's say it's now 4th and 4. And they gain 3 yards. Well, they used all 4 downs and didn't gain a net of 10 yards.

The other team takes over possession.

This doesn't happen often, though.

Want to know why?

That's the next post.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Football III. For my Big Sister. Who's 5'4''

My great-grandparents lived in a log cabin. Ma and Pa, we called them. That's what their children (my maternal grandmother and her sisters) called them. And that's what their children (my maternal grandmother's children, and all their cousins) called them.

And, that's what the great-grandchildren (me, my sisters, and all our first, second, third, and so on cousins on that side of the family) called them.

Well, when Pa died, in 1967, Ma had to give up the house. The log cabin.

She went to live with her daughters. They all lived in three separate counties in southeast Georgia, usually with one for two weeks, then the next, then the next, and so on.

When Ma came to visit, she had her chair in front of the TV.

She'd sit there with her sewing or knitting ... and her snuff can. And she'd watch TV.

Wrestling, usually. Or "rasslin'" as it was often called. Georgia Championship Wrestling, hosted by Gordon Solie. If you never heard a wrestling match called by Gordon Solie, you missed a truly great experience. He was the best.

But I digress. We're talking about Ma watching TV. Actually, we're supposed to be talking about football. But we're almost there.

Ma would watch whatever was on TV. And, sometimes, on Saturdays or Sundays, there'd be football.

One day, Ma was watching the game, then suddenly called my name.

"What do them fellow do when they squat down there and look at each other?" *

Well, here's what they do.


Following a kickoff, the teams line up to put the ball in play.

One team has possession of the ball. That's the offense.

The other team is defending a goal. That's the defense.

The offense puts the ball in play by lining up, and one man, the center, moves the ball to another player behind him, and play begins.

The offense must have at least seven men on the line of scrimmage.

The line of scrimmage is an imaginary line that runs through the football, from one sideline to another.

Seven (or more) offensive players must be lined up in a row on the line of scrimmage. Any less, and it's an illegal formation. More is okay, but there are impacts of that.

For example, the offense must move the ball downfield by running, or by successfully throwing the ball.

Anyone can run with the ball. Only certain people can catch the ball.

To catch the ball legally -- that is, to be an eligible receiver -- you must line up behind the line of scrimmage, or be one of the players lined up on the end of the line of scrimmage.

The center, the man who puts the ball into play (by "hiking" it), must, of course, be on the line. He can be on the end, but that's very uncommon.

A normal formation has the center, then a "guard" on each side, then, outside each guard, is a "tackle." Normal formations have additional players on either side of the tackles, called "ends."

Ends are eligible. Players behind the line are eligible, with one exception we'll talk about later.

Any player who lines up on the end -- even if he is the center, guard, or tackle -- is eligible. It's practically unheard of for a center to be an end. Likewise, for a guard. But it's more common, though rare, for a tackle to be an end.

When a tackle is an end ... called a "tackle eligible" play ... there must still be six other men on the line of scrimmage. And that means another player who would often be eligible is, for that play, an "exterior lineman," and ineligible.

Also, in pro ball, quarterbacks who line up immediately behind the center are ineligible. If he lines up farther back ... often called a "shotgun" formation ... he is eligible. In high school and college, a quarterback is always eligible.

Ineligible receivers may not run downfield if the ball is thrown forward (a "forward pass"). If the ball isn't thrown, they can run downfield.

And, under no circumstances can an ineligible receiver catch a forward pass. They can legally catch a pass deflected by a defender, but not directly from the passer.


Before putting the ball in play, each side gets together, often in a "huddle," to receive the play. Depending on the particular play, everyone has a different role to play and action to perform.

On the offense, some will run with the ball. Others will run downfield to attempt to catch a pass. Others will stay back and block for others who have the ball.

On the defense, some will "rush" the quarterback. Others will follow a receiver or guard a particular area or "zone" of the field from a pass (called a "zone defense"). And, sometimes, lots of players rush the quarterback. That's called a "blitz."'

In high school, the offense has 30 seconds to put the ball in play. In college, 25 seconds. And 45 in the NFL.

But all that happens after the teams line up. And squat down and look at each other.

And there's more that happens when the ball is put into play. More on that later.

Football II. For my Big Sister. Who's 5'4''

Because my Big Sister (who's 5'4'') wants to know about football, we're talking about football.

We covered the coin flip earlier. Which determines who kicks off.

The kickoff

Used to be, everybody kicked off from the 40 yard line. High school, college, and pro. Then, in 1974, this thing called the World Football League showed up. The WFL, though an unsuccessful league, had an impact.

The WFL kicked off from the 30. The NFL moved kickoffs to the 35, then, years later, the 30. College moved kickoffs back, too. High schools still kick from the 40.

The teams line up for the kick. The kicking team cannot have anyone past the football before the kick. And the receiving team cannot have anyone closer than 10 yards from the ball before it's kicked.

Once kicked, the ball must go 10 yards. Once it travels 10 yards, or if the receiving team touches the ball regardless of distance traveled, it's a "live" ball. That means either team, kicking or receiving, can gain possession of the ball.

If the kick goes out of bounds (or doesn't travel 10 yards) without being touched, it's a penalty. The ball can be moved back and kicked again, or the receiving team can take possession of the ball. Their choice.

Onside kick

This bit about 10 yards comes into play most often with a play called an "onside kick."

Usually, this happens when a team is behind, scores to close the score, but needs the ball again and there's not a lot of time left on the clock.

When that happens, teams will often try an onside kick.

The kicking team will kick the ball in such a way that it doesn't travel very far, and is hard to handle. The idea is to try to recover the ball and try to score again.

Most of the time, though, the team kicks the ball as far as they can, hoping to prevent a return.

If the kickoff crosses the goal line and either goes out of bounds or the receiving team gets the ball behind their goal line and chooses to not run the ball back, it's a touchback, and the ball is put into play on their 20 yard line.

If the receiving team catches ... or picks up ... the kickoff, they get to return the ball. They can run as far as they can, before the runner is tackled or forced out of bounds.

If they run it all the way back and cross the other team's goal line, it's a touchdown, and they score 6 points.

Usually, though, after the return, the receiving team will line up on offense at the point of the end of the return (tackle or out of bounds), or at the 20 in the event of a touchback, and they begin a series of downs.

We'll cover regular play, a team taking a series of downs, later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Football. For my Big Sister. Who's 5'4''

Becasue my Big Sister (who's 5'4'') wanted me to ... and because I'm the perfect little brother ... here's a little bit about football. Football isn't football Now, when I say "football," I mean American football. Not soccer. Or association football. Which the rest of the world calls "football." Well, not all the rest of the world. The U.S. and Canada call American football by the name "football." And Canadian football is a little different than American football. But, essentially, it's the same game. Field a little different, teams line up different, minor rules differences, but still, pretty much the same game. And, in the U.S., there are three big types of football. High school, college, and professional. War First, football is war. A contained war, but a war nonetheless. And that's part of the attraction of football. There are two types of football fans. One who likes the old, traditional, "three yards and a cloud of dust" kind of football. Then, there's the football fan who wants to see a bunch of passing and a lot of scoring. Like baseball. There are the fans that love a 1-0 pitcher's duel. Others wants a 12-11 slugfest. In football, some like the 6-3 game. Others wants a 49-48 game. I'm the former. In both baseball and football. I want my football games to be old fashioned, hard-hitting, blood on your face, dirt on your uniform, football. I think that if you want to see a 49-48 game, you need to go find you an arena football team and leave the gridiron to my kind of football. Now, having said all that ... and pissing off half the folks who watch what passes for football today ... here's a little bit about football. So my Big Sister ... who's 5'4'' ... can enjoy the game. Or at least understand what she hates. Starting the game Football is played by two teams. Each time can put 11 players on the field at one time. One team has possession of the ball and tries to move downfield and score. They are the offense. The other team doesn't have possession of the ball. Instead, they are trying to stop the other team from driving downfield and scoring. That's the defense. The two teams take turns being offense and defense. And they decide who goes first by a coin flip. The team that wins the coin flip gets to choose. Used to be, they had two options. Nowdays, they've added a third option. At least in the pro and college game. The winner of the coin flip can:
  • Choose to kick-off or receive the kick-off
  • Choose which goal to defend
  • Let the other team decide one of the above
Often, the winner of the flip defers. That's because whoever chooses to start the game, has to let the other team choose when the second half starts. Most teams, when having to choose, usually choose to receive the kickoff. Not always, but usually. The team that doesn't choose between kicking or receiving chooses which goal to defend. That's important when wind and weather can be a factor. But not often. "We'll kick to the clock" Back in the early days of the AFL (an old professional league that operated from 1960-1969 before being absorbed into the NFL), the AFL championship game in 1962 was tied after the end of regulation. Used to be, tie games were allowed. Unless it was a playoff game. (There's an interesting instance when playoff games can end tied. More later.) Anyway, in pro football, when a playoff game is tied, they start the "third half." That is, they have a coin flip, and start playing, just like at the start of the game. So, after the Dallas Texans (later, they moved and became the Kansas City Chiefs) and the Houston Oilers (who later became the Tennessee Titans) were tied at 17 when the fourth quarter ended, they had to play overtime. In the pro game, overtime starts just like a new game, but with 1 critical difference. As soon as someone scores, the game is over. Sudden death overtime, it's called. So, tied at 17, the Texans and the Oilers were headed for overtime. The wind at the stadium in Houston was a factor in the game, and Dallas coach Hank Stram told his team captain Abner Haynes, to elect to defend the goal facing the clock if they had to kick off. That would give them the winds at their backs, and a possible edge. So, when Dallas won the toss, Haynes was briefly flustered and told the referree "We'll kick to the clock." According to one report of the game, the referee, Harold Bourne, told Haynes, "You made the choice and said you'll kick." Then Houston chose the wind. Fortunately for Dallas, they held Houston from scoring, then after the fifth quarter ended, the teams swapped ends of the field, and Dallas has the wind to their backs. That's when Tommy Brooker kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Texans their first AFL title, and save Haynes from being goat of the game for screwing up the coin flip. Review Football stars with a coin flip. The team that wins the flip gets to make decisions about who goes first and who defends what goal. Next time, we'll cover the actual kickoff, and what happens from there. Okay, Big Sister?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The New BCS

I said so last year. I actually have said so for over 20 years.

Major college football needs a playoff system.

Now, the NCAA, the politically-correct, financially-corrupt organization that oversees college football in the U.S., won't come up with a playoff system for the "big schools" like Ohio State, LSU, Florida, Texas, and the like.

They have playoffs for Division III. In fact, the championship playoffs begin with 16 games (32 teams) on November 17, and conclude with the championship game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, in Salem, Virginia, on December 15.

Division II has playoffs starting with a field of 24, with the first 8 games on November 17th. The playoffs end with the championship on December 15th in Florence, Alabama.

And Division I has a playoffs, too. Used to be called Division I-AA, but now it's the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Same thing, different name. Anyway, the field of 16 starts playing on November 24, and the title game will be December 14 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

But Division I-A, now called the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)? They still use the half-assed BCS.

And though the process is half-assed, those running it are full asses.

There's no reason, other than the fact that the money greases the right pockets, for Division I-A (or FBS) to not have a playoff for the championship.

But they could.

And here's how.

Friends Of Cathy

Cathy Forsythe, sister of Chris Muir, who writes Day By Day, died Friday.

Cathy had battled cancer for some years. And bloggers helped promote her battle against cancer. Cathy had her own blog, in fact.

Many of us have been touched by cancer. Whether it's a friend or a family member who suffered, or whether some of us have battled the disease ourselves, most of us have been touched in some way.

But many of us have been touched in a different way.

Many of us have known survivors. And cancer survivors are some of the strongest, most inspiring people you could ever meet.

Sometimes, people survive for a while before finally succumbing. Others beat the disease and it never returns.

But, quite often, those that have fought cancer manage to be a source of strength for others.

Cathy is one of those who battled the disease and managed to use the Internet, radio, newspapers, and other media to bring attention to the fight.

In that way, Cathy fought not just for herself, but for others.

Cathy's fight is over.

But the battle continues.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Mac is Back

My MacBook crashed recently. Lost the hard drive.

And that's not a good thing.

Anyway, Tuesday, took it to the local Apple Authorized place. They sent it off to Apple. And Apple fixed it -- replaced the hard drive, actually -- and sent it back.

Picked it up this afternoon. And have spent most of the evening getting it back running like it should.

Updates and such. Installed latest version of iLife and iWork suites I have.

And, the good news is that it was able to recover my bookmarks and email settings from iDisk. The iTunes stuff, though, I haven't tried. Don't look promising, though.

Anyway, got my toy back. And I can't complain about the service I got from Apple regarding the MacBook. Other than needing the service in the first place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"You think you'd want to drive a hybrid?"

Watching some movie that TiVo recorded today. Just the Wife and me.

First commercial break happens, and there's a commercial for a Honda Civic. At least, I think that's what it was for.

Had the "Odd Couple" music paying. One guy was driving around in his Civic, picking up trash that another driver was tossing out. And, at the end, he returned all the trash he had collected. And that's when we realized it was a car commercial.

For a hybrid car. The Civic.

The Wife turned to me and said, "You think you'd want to drive one of those? A hybrid?"

I looked slowly over at her.

She added, "For the gas mileage?"

And I asked her, "You're asking me that? And you drive what?"

Now, just so you know, I drive a Chevrolet. An older car. A '99 Lumina. They don't make those anymore. But I like it. Have put nearly 160,000 miles on it. And, of course, it's paid for. Been so for a while.

And it gets between 25-30 miles per gallon, depending on how much highway driving I do.

The Wife? She drives some big-ass Ford truck. An F-150. About 4 years old. And it'll be paid for in two months.

And she gets about 10-12 miles per gallon, depending on how much highway driving she does.

And she wants to know if I want to drive a hybrid.

She stuttered and stammered for a bit when I asked her, "You're asking me that? And you drive what?"

Now, this isn't to say that I won't get a hybrid.

It's just that I'm not sure about when she's going to get that mote out of her eye.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

MacBook down

I've really enjoyed my new MacBook.

Until it broke.

Seems something caused it to not recognize the hard drive.

And, with no hard drive, the computer won't do much.

So, at lunch (I'm eating a sandwich now), I took the MacBook by the Apple Authorized Repair Center in Columbus. And they are shipping it off to the MacBook hospital.

Not sure if it's getting a face-lift, a transplant, or what. But it should be back by the end of the week.

So, for now, I am operating on my old Dell notebook.

I miss my MacBook already. But this old Dell ... well, it's dependable. And I don't know of a better testimonial to give about any computer.