Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Greetings


Times are tough and life is hard.
Here's your fuckin' Christmas card.
Sorry, this is as festive as I'm going to be this year
and the closest thing to a card I'll be sending out.
bah humbug

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Cheating Cat Is Told Off, Big Time!


This cracks me up every time, I just can't help it!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

*Yawn* I'm Tired

Finally, a weekend without rain! I celebrated by getting off my lazy ass and getting a few things done. After eating some cereal for breakfast and fueling up on coffee I ended up doing all of the following, after feeding my Zuma addiction of course:

  • Cleaned one of the bathrooms
  • Watered all three dozen orchids
  • Fed the cat his special treat 4 times. He's picky so his special treat is a quarter can of nasty smelling wet cat food microwaved 8 seconds to warm it up with a bunch of crunchy food stirred in. It has to be stirred in just right or he licks all the good stuff out and leaves all the crunchies. Yeah, he's spoiled but it makes him eat a lot so he stops losing weight. He wasn't eating the plain dry food and was down to 13.5 pounds which was way scrawny, he looked horrible. Now he's back over 17 and climbing so he's getting back to normal weight.
  • Cleaned the catbox, there's been a lot of that since what I just described. Blech!
  • Washed a sink full of dishes the wife left from her dinner of leftovers last night.
  • Cut up a few potatoes, a couple carrots and an onion, threw it all in the slow cooker with a giant slab of beef I'd browned in some oil then added some beef bouillon then cleaned up all that mess.
  • By then I was hungry again so I cooked my normal weekend breakfast of three pieces of bacon, two eggs, some toast and a banana all washed down with coffee then cleaned up that mess.
  • Scrubbed the glass cooktop until it was freaking spotless (clean enough to eat off of... hahaha I crack me up sometimes), then cleaned the counter tops and disinfected them before cleaning up the sink area.
  • Now refueled I went out and raked a bunch of leaves and bagged them up, mowed the grass then did some garden cleanup until it was too dark to see.
  • After a shower I vacuumed, then broke out the Swiffer and mopped the kitchen and laundry room floors.
  • Oh yeah, laundry. I washed, dried and put away a load of that, almost forgot.
  • By then that bigass pot roast was done so I made some gravy from the juice and ate about half a cow and some potatoes and washed it all down with an ice cold Warsteiner Dunkel (mmmm... good beer), then cleaned up all that mess too.
  • Reorganized the dishes in the dishwasher so I could fit in a couple more (there's always room for more then ran it and afterward put them all away.
  • In between all that I picked up and put away little odds and ends as I found them.

Now I'm kicked back and relaxing with a glass of wine, just finished watching a great football game and doing my damnedest to keep my eyes open long enough to type all this. So what did you slackers do today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Windows Updates Failing To Install, Part 2

Well well well, what do you know? It's once again time to install more updates and once again some of the updates rated as "Important" just won't install. I guess it's too much to ask for Microsoft to create updates which actually work on their own products. So anyway, here they are:

Just click the download button on each of the three pages, you can either run them from Internet Explorer or if you use a real browser save them to your computer then run them at your leisure. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows Updates Failing To Install

Have you ever had Windows updates fail to install? It's happened to me a couple of times now, and after some three dozen failed attempts to install four updates rated by Microsoft as "Important" I was starting to get more than a little annoyed. They were released thirteen days ago (Oct. 13) and if they're so damned important I figure I should be able to install them even if Microsoft can't figure out a way to do it themselves in their own operating system.

So, I said "Hello!" to Google and started searching. Eventually I stumbled across the solution, one so simple that I'm fairly shocked that Microsoft themselves haven't found a working solution for the automatic download and install process. Ready? Install them manually. Yep, that's it! Close the Automatic Updates window and do it yourself.

The updates which wouldn't install were:

To install the updates just click them in the list above. You must use Internet Explorer for this or it probably will not work, Microsoft is funny like that. Click an update, it will open in a new window or new tab depending upon your settings. Then click the "Download" link on the Update page, click the typical multiple "OK"s and "Accept"s and "Allow"s and "Run"s until you eventually get the little alert window telling you the update was successfully installed. At that point, come back here and click on the next one and repeat the whole process until you've done all four.

You can then either check for new updates by clicking the icon and link near top right of the Update pages, or run Update from your Windows Control Panel and check for new updates that way. If all went well the problematic Updates should no longer appear on the list of updates you need to download and install. For me it didn't seem that rebooting my computer was necessary but you may want to do so anyway just to be safe.

If you try this with a browser other than Internet Explorer and it works for you, please let me know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yep, Still Blah

So it's two weeks into the new job. I was right, I don't really like it. I'm bored and I haven't worked for minimum wage in 30 years. There's really no motivation to get out of bed.

Everything else is still a mess. Go me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blah

That one little word says it all. Ok, maybe almost all, it could use a little help. *insert profanity here* blah. There, that about covers it and pretty well describes how I feel.

Ever have one of those days where you just plain can't be bothered to give a damn, about anything? That's what I'm having except it's been going on much longer than a day. I don't seem to care about much of anything these days. I've lost all interest in the projects I started after I lost my job. I've not worked on any of them for weeks, none of them are finished and I don't really care.

The only thing I've really paid any attention to at all is getting rid of the weeds in the lawn. It's a nice mindless job pulling out crabgrass and nut sedge. I can't even begin to guess at how many hours I've spent sitting in or crawing around on the lawn. A lot of it comes back because I never seem to really get all of the roots so I just pull it again next time around.

I start a new job in just a few hours yet I feel zero excitement about it, it will be just another day where I'll wake up, do something to occupy my time, eat dinner then be bored by television or internet until I fall asleep. My life has become boring beyond belief, I look forward to absolutely nothing and have no motivation to do anything. I just don't care.

I need out, but that would be a decision. All this free time has left me a lot of time for thinking and I've realized that every major decision I've ever made which has had any meaningful impact on my life has been the wrong one, so I'm not real keen on trying another. At least I'm consistent! Of course deciding not to make a decision would probably be a wrong decision too. It may even be a good thing that things have unfolded in the way they have, it has relieved me of the responsibility of making decisions so that's less chance of making yet another wrong one. There's that silver lining I was looking for. Woot!

I've lost all confidence in my ability to recognize what's best for me, or even good for me, which makes me wonder if I'm anywhere near as smart as I thought I was. I've missed clues to things which I should have seen coming a mile away yet didn't, though in hindsight some were so obvious that a blind man would have probably seen them.

Maybe I'm just having a mid-life crisis. I'm 45 and accomplished just about nothing, maybe that's messing with my mind. There's got to be more to life than this.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is It Really Music?

If you've never heard of Nora the cat you can check out this Wikipedia article about her. I'd seen a YouTube video and just figured she pawed at a couple keys once in a while but apparently there is more to it than that, even scientists are interested and her behavior is unusual.

I know people can beat, blow or stomp on just about anything and call it music so I really shouldn't really be surprised that some consider this cat's playing deserving of that term. Hell, maybe on some level I don't understand she's actually a musical genius and her compositions are technical masterpieces. I've never studied music theory, what do I know?

Is her playing good enough to warrant being featured in her own concerto (or catcerto)? It seems the answer is....... Yes!! The first minute or so is fairly boring, mostly all orchestra and no cat but it gets better. Take it away Mindaugas and Nora!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Supersized Blueberries

I have once again won my annual battle with the catbirds, go me! Every year it's a struggle to keep those feathered pests away from my blueberries, they are determined little buggers and usually manage to find a way through, under or around the netting I use to cover the plants. I only caught a couple intruders this time, so more berries for me.

For my efforts I was rewarded with enough blueberries to completely fill a half gallon pitcher, with a mound of berries on top. That was just the first harvest, I'll be picking more over the next few weeks as the rest continue to ripen. One plant in particular had huge fruit, some of the biggest blueberries I'd ever seen. They taste even better than they look, so I'm off to eat more.

The coin in the pictures is a US quarter for comparison.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Demise Of Free Internet Radio

It looks like the days of free internet radio are numbered, the major players are already starting to charge and it probably won't be long before more of them jump on the bandwagon. Some are charging pretty reasonable rates, others not so much.

last.fm is still free in the US, UK and Germany but if you're anywhere else in the world you'll have to pay €3.00 per month to continue listening. They are owned by CBS radio anyway, the same group who recently ruined Yahoo's LAUNCHcast radio when they took over that service.

XM have completely lost their minds, they expect you to pay $12.95 a month for an online radio subscription. That's $155 a year to listen to the radio! No thanks.

Even Pandora is starting to charge fees now. Users are allotted 40 hours per month, if that limit is exceeded there are three choices. 

  • Do nothing and wait until the following month to resume listening.
  • Pay $ .99 for unlimited listening for the remainder of that one month, you will still have limited skips and you will still hear advertisements.
  • Buy a premium Pandora One membership for $36 per year. That's unlimited play, unlimited skips and no ads.

I suppose Yahoo's LAUNCHcast is still an option, but since CBS took over you no longer have your own customized station, all the time and effort spent on ratings and preferences to customize your own personal listening experience were wasted.

The royalty rates which internet radio are forced to pay per play per user was just cut roughly in half, so there's still hope that the industry itself won't disappear completely. There's going to be some stiff competition from new tech gadgets so it's still not going to be easy for internet radio to survive. Devices like the Aluratek USB Internet Radio Jukebox sell for less than $40. This particular device looks like a USB thumb drive, you simply plug it into your computer USB port and it's own launcher and micro-browser take over to give you access to 13,000 radio stations in 300 countries. You can search the radio stations by genre, state, or country, and you can even create favorites lists.

I think the idea of charging radio stations to play music is an asinine thing to do and I'm sure it's motivated purely by greed. FM radio doesn't have to pay royalties to play music, and satellite radio pays much lower rates than internet radio although that gap has been all but reduced by the new arrangement. I listen to far more radio online than I do on an FM receiver, and very rarely listen to any satellite. Almost all of my exposure to new music comes from internet radio which influences almost all of my decisions to purchase a CD yet artists and record companies demand payment for that exposure. Personally I think it should be the other way around.

So what do you think, will free internet radio survive or do you think it will go away completely? Do you use a free service not mentioned above, and if so which one?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wife + Pasta + Disposal = *@#$&*!!

What happens if you leave a bunch of plain cooked pasta sitting out? It turns into a big, sticky mess unless you've kept it wet. That's pretty much a given, the high starch content makes it the next best thing to glue.

Apparently my wife was absent the day this little gem of knowledge was taught. A rather large pile of leftover spaghetti noodles had been in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, definitely not high on my list of edibles at that point. Sunday night she thought it would be a good idea to stuff it all into the disposal, run it just long enough to clear it all out then turn off both the disposal and the water. That left the pipes full of ground up pasta, which as it turns out is the next best thing to dumping a bag of Quikrete down the drain.

So Monday evening comes along, and after working outside in the yard and the garden for a few hours I am a filthy mess. I come inside, turn on the water and start washing my hands and arms. Next thing I know the sink is full of filthy water, and it's gone through the connecting drainpipe between the two sinks and started filling the other one too. So now I had two sinks full of dirty water. I get out the little plunger, cap one drain opening and use the plunger to try suctioning the clog loose. That was a waste of time and effort, not to mention pretty damned messy. Then I had two sinks full of even dirtier water which looked like it carried the remains of a drowned maggot infestation. *insert cursing here*

I figure I'll wait til after dinner to give it another go, then head to the bathroom to finish washing up. While I'm in there the wife has her second bright idea and pours in a bottle of drain opener. Now I had two sinks full of filthy water, shredded pasta resembling drowned maggots and caustic chemicals! Happy happy joy joy. *insert even more cursing and profanity here*

I hoped that it would clear with time. No such luck. I took off the traps under the sinks hoping to find the clog where it would be easy to get to. No such luck. So today I went to Home Depot and bought 25' pipe snake and spent the afternoon trying to twist and shove the damned thing down the drain pipe. After about an hour and a half and ending up covered with sweat and nasty, stinking, black drain pipe slime I finally got through the clog. Can I get an amen and a big ol' hallelujah?

Happy birthday to me! Now I'm off to shower again so I'm able to tolerate my own smell. Remember boys and girls, pasta + drain = DON'T EFFING DO IT!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yahoo!icide

Yahoo! is continuing their never ending quest to render themselves obsolete.
For reasons unexplainable by me they continue operating with the philosophy "Less is More." Services and features continue to be cut back or eliminated altogether, usually leaving their users with no choice but to go somewhere else altogether. They seem to be intentionally weakening their own customer base while simultaneously strenghtening that of their competition.
 
Y! Games are ancient and have undergone no significant changes in play or appearance for over a decade. Meanwhile, game sites like Pogo are on a level so far above Yahoo! that the big red Y! will probably never catch up and never measure up.

Y! Photos was discontinued, leaving users with two poor choices. Users could either switch to Flickr, an unbranded (but Yahoo! owned) service which was more difficult to use and offered considerably less than what they were used to unless they paid for a premium account, or they could switch to another service not affiliated with Yahoo! at all. Bye-bye users.

The Y! Briefcase service was discontinued and no replacement offered. Users now have to go elsewhere for any photo or document storage. Bye-bye users

LAUNCHcast radio underwent major change, removing the ability to create or maintain custom stations which play music defined by the listener's specific preferences. Bye-bye users

Yahoo! 360° will soon be put out of its misery after years of neglect during which it never functioned properly. No replacement is offered. This completely removes Y! from the social networking market, one of the biggest markets on the internet. I can't even begin to fathom the reasoning behind this decision.

The new "universal profile" is a bug laden disaster almost as unusable as 360° often was. A large percentage of users aren't even able to access their own profile to make changes, so it broadcasts updates about all of their activities on Yahoo! to all of their contacts without their permission or control. The developers of this new profile are themselves unsure of what purpose it is supposed to serve, they continue to add features and functionality which make it usable as a stripped down social networking site while all the while claiming it's not supposed to be. Bye-bye users

GeoCities is the next to be shut down. Users who have had personal websites hosted on GeoCities for a decade or more will now have to go elsewhere. Yahoo! will have no free website hosting features anymore. Bye-bye users

Yahoo! Answers is a disaster. It could have been a worthwhile property but due to incompetence, lack of foresight and lack of any sort of user control it has turned into a giant game, a pre-teen Dear Abby and rate my pic site, a cesspool of hatred and a haven for spammers and malware distributors. Yet Yahoo! still has no restrictions in place to prevent ill intentioned users from sitting down at their computer and creating dozens upon dozens of back to back accounts which they then use to blanket the site with spam and malware. Malware alone has continued unabated for over a year, with the only control in place being the herculean search and report efforts of many of it's users. Even then Y! refuses to give them the tools they need to do the job properly, and keeps breaking the one ineffective tool they do have.

Then there's Yahoo!'s crown jewel, their "Customer Care" division. I doubt there has ever been a more incompetent, ineffectual, self-defeating customer care department than the poor excuse offered by Yahoo!. Instead of working to keep their users, they continually cause them to leave by way of horrible service and attitude. Contacting them about anything only begins a chain of copy and paste responses, most of which don't even address any point made in the original contact. They may as well just respond to the first inquiry with a simple "Fuck you, we don't care." At least then the user gets the idea the first time instead of dealing with the frustration and aggravation of multiple communications over an extended period of time while their issue remains unresolved. On Yahoo! it is totally possible to lose your entire account and everything in it for no reason at all without ever being given a reason, especially if you participate in Y! Answers.
Personally I think Yahoo! totally blew it by not selling to Microsoft. They have cut back their staff and services to the point where none of their new products work and nobody there can fix them. I honestly see no reason to even use Yahoo! for anything now aside from Messenger and for some, e-mail. I won't use Y! Mail myself for the simple reason that I could lose it at any time due to unexplained account deactivation. The one service I still use is Messenger, because it's free. I will not pay them again for the use of the Phone Out service because the last time I did they stole the remaining prepaid balance when they erroneously deactivated my account. When they realized their mistake and reactivated it the balance was gone and they refuse to reinstate it. So, screw 'em. So what do you think, will Yahoo! survive and regain it's former status or will they continue to decline to the point where they are irrelevant?

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Trip To The Urologist

As men age we start seeing more of the medical world. Nowadays this includes an increasing number of women as our physicians and therapists - in my case, a new urologist. My doctor recently referred me to a 30-something female urologist. I saw her yesterday. She was drop-dead gorgeous and dressed to kill... unbelievably sexy. She told me that I had to stop masturbating. Being male I found this an unreasonable request so I asked her why. She said, "Because I'm trying to examine you." D'oh!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Life's Little Surprises

Life has a tendency to spring a few surprises along the way. Too bad they aren't always good ones.

If you know me then you most likely know that my marriage is not a happy one. My wife and I have developed opposing viewpoints regarding several issues, some of which I consider core issues key to any relationship especially a marriage. We've drifted apart and I'm now at the point where the only reason I stay is because I can not yet afford to leave, but that day is coming.

Over the past few years I have become emotionally involved with someone else. We are separated by many miles but talked nearly every day, sometimes for hours but because of the distance we got to share only the occasional visit with each other. We have much in common, both in personality traits and involvement in unhappy marriages. Judge all you want but she made me happy and made me feel loved, appreciated and wanted and I feel no guilt or shame for allowing myself that feeling. Nor do I feel any guilt or shame for loving her. Talking with her always brought a smile to my face and was always the brightest part of my day. When the day came that I could leave my marriage and cut all ties, she was who I wanted to be with.

That's over now, courtesy of surprise number one. She felt it was in her best interest to walk away so that she could get on with her life. I never saw it coming and that's made it even harder to deal with. I understand and don't hold it against her but it still sucks. There's a huge hole in my life and I feel very empty right now. C'est la vie.

Two weeks later along comes surprise number two. My boss shows up at work Saturday right around closing time, she tells me she can't afford to pay me anymore and asks for my keys and parking permit. No notice, no discussion, no alternatives, just an instant statistic. I'm not really all that marketable, have no higher education or degrees and in this shit economy finding another job is going to be really tough.

I'd managed to scrape together a little nest egg for when I was able to leave, but after replacing my dead laptop a little while back and taking a vacation I'd put a pretty big dent in it and this will probably finish it off. I guess I'll just have to start all over again.

That's two shitty surprises in a row neither of which I saw coming. I'm really hoping there's not a third. Looking back, I see there were clues along the way but I either missed them all at the time or just completely underestimated their relevance. Maybe I'm just not as smart as I thought I was... So there's my current happy place.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Third and Final "F You!!" To HP

I should have known better, but I went ahead and did it anyway. Duh me. Notice how that sounds just like dummy? There's a reason for that. Despite my previous experience with an HP PC I went and bought an HP laptop, specifically a dv6000. They really do have good prices and I hoped my previous experience with their product was the exception rather than the rule. No such luck.

I hadn't had it long when it just shut down and wouldn't restart. So I call HP and they send a box in which I am to pack the brand new paperweight and send it back to them for repair. They had shipped a whole shitload of them out with a bad BIOS and rather then recall them all, fix them and put them back out they chose to let people buy them and use them until they crashed then force them to have to deal with the whole "wait for a box, wait for shipping, wait for repair, wait for shipping again" ordeal while being left with no computer. Assholes.

So after about a week with no computer I get it back, all "fixed" and ready to go. I'll give them credit for their warranty repair service. It's quick and painless. As it turns out it's also incompetent. When I got it back I found that I could no longer connect it to my television to view photos, videos, etc... They had managed to break it while fixing it, and we certainly can't expect them to actually test something before they send it out because that's just unreasonable! They wanted me to send it back again but I needed it for work and given how little I used the ability to connect it to a television or monitor I decided to just do without it.

Now here it is, about 16 months after I got the laptop and it's completely dead, again. So I take it to a computer tech to see what's going on with the paperweight now. This time it's the motherboard, and replacing it would cost almost as much as I paid for the laptop. The tech tells me that particular model is notorious for that problem, they used defective motherboards which couldn't handle the heat from the processor they used, one better suited to a PC than  a laptop because it runs so hot. He then pointed to a stack of them on the floor, all with the same issue, and recommends calling HP to see if they will repair it since it is a known defect with their product.

I go home and call them to no avail, they refuse to fix it because it's just out of warranty, regardless of the fact that it's a known defect. I am done with HP, from my personal experience they offer only inferior quality products, clueless customer service, incompetent repair service which breaks one thing when fixing another and they will not stand behind their product. The price point may be good but in this case you really do get what you pay for.

Now I've got a widescreen Sony VAIO with Blu-ray and I'm loving it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's Spring

It's now officially Spring. Not just because of the calendar date but because I've seen my own official harbingers of Spring. Robins are everywhere, there's a bunch of them hopping around in my yard right now eating whatever it is they're finding to eat.

The other sure sign is the red haze everywhere I look, it's the Red Maples (Acer rubrum) flowering. They're everywhere here, all along the sides of the road and a prominent species in woodlands. Did you just learn something new? Most people don't realize that maple trees flower, but they do. Professor Jeff is in the house!

So that's it, I've really nothing else to say. It's been a while since I put anything here so I felt obligated in some strange way to type something.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finally, Some Snow!

For the first time this winter the weather reports were right and we got snow! We got ice on top of it of course but we got snow, enough to be too heavy to shovel so I finally got to break out the snow blower. I've had it for 3 winters now and it's barely snowed since I got it.

I was so happy to be able to use it that I didn't just clear the sidewalk in front of the house, I cleared the walk brick walkway from the street out front all the way to the alley behind my property. Then I kept going past the end of my sidewalk and cleared the walk in front of the house next to me and the house next to it, then the house on the other side of me too! I''m such a nice neighbor. Yeah yeah yeah.. I know... boys and their toys. I can almost hear the women now, just hush!   :P

Speaking of women, I received an e-mail containing a quote about them. I thought it was pretty funny myself, it was "No woman will ever be truly satisfied, because no man will ever have a chocolate penis which ejaculates money."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nothing Exciting To Report

Our new President is now in office, all the hooplah is over so maybe now he/we can concentrate on getting some necessary work done. There's a lot to be accomplished, I sure hope he lives up to the hype. Enough said there.

Remember that whole "get off my lazy ass and get motivated" thing I mentioned last time? It hasn't happened yet, lol. Surprise!! I'm just not feeling it.

I haven't been a total useless lump though. I have managed to get down to the basement to clean off the weights and exercise equipment. I've even used them a few times. In fact, I'm going to do it again tonight as soon as I finish typing this, watching some tv, drinking a beer and eating some popcorn. Priorities dammit! We'll see how long I can keep it up (the exercise you pervs). I'm also trying to modify my diet so it's a little better for me, even stooping to eating rabbit food a couple times a week. Somewhere out there better be some very grateful cows and pigs.

Aside from the above I've not a damned thing except go to a birthday party for a 2 year old at Dave and Buster's and a 50th birthday surprise party. Two trips to Philly in the same month, yay me. That's it for the latest installment of My Uneventful Life.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Another Year Here And Gone

2008 is out of here and I don't think too many people are going to miss it. The general consensus among most of the people I know is "Good riddance".

My New Year's Eve was a quiet one. We had dinner with a couple friends at their house, played some Phase 10 (a very annoying card game), snacked on junk food and dessert then had a glass of champagne as we watched the ball drop. Things sure do get different as you get older. I used to never remember New Year's Eve because an entire night of various overindulgences made it impossible to remember, now they're forgotten for lack of anything worth remembering. I guess I can always blame it on old age.

So now it's another year, back to the same old same old. I'm skipping the whole resolution thing. I was never good for doing things on a schedule anyway, I have better luck doing them when I feel the time or circumstances are right for whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish. There are a few things I'd like to get done this year but we'll just have to see how things go. Some of them just need me to get off my lazy ass and get motivated, others are a bit more dependent on other factors. I didn't get much of anything accomplished last year, I suppose I should try to make up for that this year and do something constructive with my free time. I'll let you know how that goes

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