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March 19th, 2024

Light To No Posting Until I Get To California

…sorry. But between the server move and my being on the road during a time of crazy winter hanging on even in the Southwest weather, I haven’t had the energy or the time to post here. I wanted my few regular readers here to know this place is not abandoned, regardless of what you might have been seeing if you tuned in. And I have a backlog of stuff I want to write about when I get to Oceano, so stay tuned.

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 12th, 2024

Apple: It All Just Works. Except When It Doesn’t.

…because you need to be a better consumer.

Today in The Computer Geek Chronicles…I don’t know how I’d cope with these gadget’s, especially Apple’s since they seem to love breaking things so you have to buy new hardware you really don’t need. But anyway…

I’m listening to the radio and chance across some sort of Christian tune that I could swear was a note for note steal from a passage in Finlandia by Finnish composer Sibelius. So I go looking for Finlandia in my iTunes library, only to discover I never copied that over. Further investigation shows I didn’t copy it over because I don’t have it on any digital media.

But I have some LP’s with it on them, so I fire up my household stereo, and the turntable which I’m sure is happy to know I still love it. Two good versions are by the very theatrical Leopold Stokowski, who was well known for taking…liberties…with the music he was conducting (See Disney’s Fantasia…). The other by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Finlandia is political protest. It was written as a veiled protest against Tsarist Russian control of the Finnish press. (One of my favorite composers, Dimitri Shostakovich, often butted heads with his soviet overlords) It has it’s energetic, you might even say bombastic passages. But toward the end is this beautiful, soulful, hymn like passage that gets to me every time I listen to it, the way Ralph Vaughan-William’s similar passage at the end of his 6th symphony’s first movement.

I could easily see why it would be co-opted by the religious set, and in fact Sibelius made that passage into a single set piece for his Masonic Ritual Music with a chorus for solo opera singer. I have no idea what those lyrics were, but they almost certainly weren’t Be Still My Soul.

So anyway, to remedy that omission from my portable music library, I went looking for it on iTunes. I couldn’t find the Stokowski version but I did find a copy of the von Karajan version. Then I remembered I have a problem with copying music onto my devices, ever since I upgraded the OS on my iPhone.

I’m still on old Apple hardware, and for several iterations now I’ve had to add a special software patch to my copy of iTunes on my artroom Mac Pro. Then the software patch simply refused to download due to some unexplained “network error”. Hahahahaha…that’s Apple’s way of saying time to spend more money at the Apple Store.

The bug is well known out in the wild, but Apple, in it’s traditional way, won’t fix bugs that allow you to not buy new hardware. So this means I can no longer copy music from my iTunes library to my iPhone.

The work-around is I buy new music on the iPhone. It still gets copied onto my Mac Pro copy of iTunes once I log in. And this allows me to then copy it to my very old iPod.

Because (don’t start laughing yet…), Apple hasn’t updated the iPod OS in over a decade, so the last patch to make iTunes compatible with the iPod, probably a decade old now at least…Still Works.

Dig it. So for now, until Apple decides to stop letting older versions of iTunes download new music from the iTunes store, I have a work-around to get music I buy from Apple onto my iPod. To get music I buy in CD format and copy into my iTunes library, I have to use a third party app. At least that works without my having to Jailbreak the iPhone.

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 4th, 2024

Faking It

I had my first mock cocktail at Rocket to Venus last week and it convinced me that these alcohol free drinks could actually work for me. I haven’t given up drinking entirely, but I have to be very careful because it really is the case that more than one drink in a week’s time and I will get heart flutters. That said, later this week I’m planning on having one or more of La Cuchara’s lovely Velvet Undergrounds (Ancient Age Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, Orange, Hickory Smoke…yes…smoke…you read that right…) but that’s a break up celebration date and heart flutters seem appropriate for such things.

But now I’ve discovered mock alcohol, and in my quest for the perfect mock alcohol I can now report that “Cut Above” mock whiskey is…horrible. To me it tastes like that stuff they put on microwave popcorn to make it taste like it has butter on it, but served as a drink.

That might be me and your mileage may vary. I’ve learned over the years that my genes play a bigger role in how things taste to me than I would have thought when I was a kid. Cilantro tastes like soap, but others seem to like it. I can eat Durian candy and it tastes fine to me, but to others it apparently tastes like vomit. And I’ve never liked the taste of beer, but others will tell me that beer is the bread of life. I can tolerate a good German wheat beer, but that’s all.

So maybe whatever they’re using to simulate the taste of whiskey in Cut Above is just something that reacts badly with my taste buds. But I ended up pouring that entire expensive bottle down the drain because I simply could not drink more than a couple sips. I bought it thinking at worst it would simply not become a favorite, but there is always worse than worst.

I bought a bottle of Free Spirits mock Bourbon tonight at a spot on The Avenue, and I’m sipping it contentedly now. It’s not a perfect imitation, but close enough that I can tell myself it’s not a top shelf Bourbon but good enough for a nightcap. I can tell they’re using cinnamon to give it that alcohol bite, but it kinda does work.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 22nd, 2024

Yes, It’s Winter In Maryland Isn’t It?

My high tech thermostat was telling me that it’s 13 degrees outside when I got up this morning (it’s taking readings from the AC unit outside where it’s mostly in the shade this time of year). I was hoping for something a bit warmer so I could do my morning walk. But I reckon that’s going to have to wait.

I sure can’t wait for the temperatures to rise into the 50s, like the forecast is saying, later this week. It’ll come with a lot of rain but that’ll help get rid of the snow that’s keeping the car put for now. Of course that’ll mean more flooding.

I’m taking the train to Walt Disney World at the end of the month, as a winter mental health break. Initially I’d wanted to do it right after New Year but there were no roomettes available and this would have to be a train ride because this is the snow time of year and I didn’t want to drive down only to find my streets a foot or more deep in snow and nowhere to park. I’d given some thought to taking a week during Valentine’s day to perk me up, but on reflection that would only have depressed me more. A round trip on the Silver Meteor was available within my budget for the end of January and I took that.

But there were no Disney rooms available in the park other than the top level thousand dollar plus rooms which I can’t afford, and as I write this even those rooms are unavailable. It was frustrating, but on the other hand good to see that DeSantis and Rufo are having zero effect on Walt Disney World’s popularity. I made sure to get my room in Port Orleans Riverside for the May/June two week vacation (can I call them vacations if I’m retired??) now instead of waiting until the annual pass renewal.

I can only wring five nights in a hotel row hotel this trip, but that gives me walking access to Disney Springs which is a must have if I can’t get into any of the park hotels (resorts…whatever…), and the train ride is itself a relaxing part of the vacation. I haven’t done the Silver Meteor in a long time. This time I’m getting off in Kissimmee instead of Orlando. It’s just the next stop down but that gets me a drive into the parks without having to navigate I-5 traffic. I’m renting a car for the stay so I can get around the parks on my own schedule, not the bus schedule, and Florida weather allowing it should be a moment of fun and relaxation. 

Then I get to go back home and trudge through the rest of the winter in Maryland. And spend money on the car. It needs new engine and transmission mounts. So it goes…

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 17th, 2024

The Usual Post Snowfall Routine…(continued)

3:19PM. It’s getting late in the afternoon for this time of year and the shadows are getting longer and the temperatures are going down from the high of cold as hell to colder than hell. And my car is completely clear of ice. I had to do very little wiping it off and no scraping at all. Most of the clearing was done by the sun. It is currently 26 degrees outside.

All that said, I’m retired now and didn’t have to be in the office this morning. I could lounge around the house doing a laundry and some odds and ends and just let the sun do most of the work. But I didn’t hear a lot of scraping this morning either. Work From Home is still apparently a thing for most of the working neighbors here.

Streets are mostly clear of ice and snow but I am not taking the car anywhere for a while because of all the salt on the road. This is the time of year when I have to make double sure I get the undercarriage wash at the car wash. Frequently.

by Bruce | Link | React!

The Usual Post Snowfall Routine

Finally swept four inches of snow off the car just now. There’s still a thin crust of ice covering most of the body, but here’s the thing: with the sun out now and a clear sky, even though it’s well below freezing that sunlight will melt the rest of it off by mid afternoon.

It was 19 degrees out there as I worked, but on the side of the car where the sun was hitting the car body directly there was liquid water in spots and I was able to just brush off the ice with a gloved hand in those locations.

Probably helps that my car is painted a dark color.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 14th, 2024

Relaxing In My Summer Clothes Watching It Snow…

…is my favorite winter activity. We just had a band of pretty fierce snow flurries pass through Bawlmer hon. Moderately large flakes being driven horizontally by the wind. Seems to have stopped as I’m typing this. Forecast is for a bit more snow this coming Tuesday.

When it snows I enjoy hanging out at home in just my cutoffs and a t-shirt, drinking hot coffee or tea with the heat turned up a notch. Yes it adds a tad to the heating bill but I keep the heat low most of the rest of the time and I can afford it. Heinlein said to budget for the luxuries first. I budget for the utilities first. I suppose there’s some overlap there.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Skills Learned In Childhood Never Leave You

Mayo Clinic sent me a follow-up survey about the Cologuard test I had last year. I’ll stick it in the mail when the weather permits. They should know how many of us had false (abnormal) positives (me) versus how many positives were in fact the real thing.

I haven’t had to fill in the beans with a #2 pencil since grade school. But it all came back to me!

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 13th, 2024

A Lovely Spring Morning In January

I woke up just before sunrise and went downstairs to check the bay window to see if there were any leaks after the rain last night. There were no leaks, but also practically no rain overnight either that I could tell, at least compared to the big storm a couple days ago. So I really don’t know if I fixed the leaks or not. I patched every possible gap and crack I could see where water might get in though, so there’s that anyway. And what rain there was Did hit the front of the house directly like before. There just wasn’t as much of it.

Next step is to tempt fate and put everything back on the bay window shelf and see if it gets leaked on again. Hahahahaha… Sigh.

Before I took a look outside to see what the overnight rain patterns looked like, I checked the thermostat to see how cold it was out there. It told me it was 50 degrees outside. In January. Before sunup.

I got out onto my porch in my cutoffs and a t-shirt and I swear it felt like a spring morning. There were even robins chirping in the trees just like a typical spring morning around here.

Oh wait…it’s Maryland. They’re calling for snow next week…

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 11th, 2024

What A Brave New World We All Live In Now!

Running the vacuum cleaner after tracking in bird seed shells and leaves from working outside. Noticing (this is for all you old people reading this) that I no longer see static on the TV screen when I run the vacuum.


by Bruce | Link | React!

January 4th, 2024

The Skills You Acquire As You Get Older

Something I am getting really good at in my old age is the ability to flick just one single little pill out of the bottle. I practice mornings and evenings.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 5th, 2023

No Rest For The Facebook Weary

At some point after I’ve finished with the next and final-ish episode of A Coming Out Story, I will need to set up a page and sub galleries for my stand alone artwork and sketches. Because all of that I’ve posted on my Facebook page is going away.

Disengaging from online commercial social media may have another benefit besides not having to endure the censor algorithms. Less time with my face in a smartphone app, more time at the drafting table.

The sketches above are for a cartoon I have been trying to get out of me for, no kidding, four years now. A lot of that is my struggling with how sexy to make it and still not go over the line into cheap thrills. I’ve drawn and re-drawn the frames in it many multiple times because I want it to be authentically what I meant without any ridiculous self-censorship. But when all is said and done it’s still my own personal take on a particular song, nobody else’s, and there’s a reason why the character of my libido in A Coming Out Story is wearing a fig leaf. “I’m your libido not Robert Crumb’s libido…

If I’d grown up in a more sexually relaxed culture I probably wouldn’t be fighting with myself about this. Also…being raised in a Yankee Baptist household isn’t helping.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 10th, 2023

Kids These Days (at 70)


Kids these days…yes. I knew the first two of course, having lived through them. I was 70 years old when I learned where the word Broadcasting came from.

(Still have (and use) my iPod Classic. Nifty little device. Big improvement over the Sony Walkman.)

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 22nd, 2023

A Wee Journey Through The Parts Labyrinth For Just One Damn Part

My brother’s kitchen has the nice new stove he’d bought a few months before I arrived. It was so new and pristine that every time I used it I felt a need to thoroughly clean it after every use, and sometimes I would spot clean it while he was away on work. It was reflex, it looked so nice and new.

So I get home and take a fresh look at the one he helped me buy that time he was here and I’m shocked, shocked, at how much grunge I let build up on mine. Okay, it wasn’t much but it was enough compared to his nice new one. So I resolved to basically give my stove a detailing.

But first, I had to order a new center grill for it since I use that a Lot and mine had grunged up, and the no stick surface worn down to the bare aluminum. It was beyond cleaning, so I decided just to order a new one and take the one I had to recycling. It’s all aluminum and that’s an excellent metal to recycle. And it was actually the second griddle I’d bought for my stove because I’d worn out the one that came with it in just a few years. I use the griddle Lots and that non stick surface just couldn’t handle it. So I did what I had before, and looked up the model number of my stove on the manufacturer’s website (GE), and once there expected to just be able to order a new griddle for that stove like I had before.

But this time the page for my stove just said my stove was no longer being made and that was all. No parts list, nothing. This surprised me because that stove isn’t all that old, but looking back it was the the floor model I bought. and I realized it had probably already been discontinued when I bought it (which maybe explained the nice discount I got for it more than the fact that it was the floor model). Annoyingly, the manufacturer’s website wouldn’t give me part numbers for stoves they weren’t making anymore. So I couldn’t just look up the part number on the griddle and see if someone somewhere had any. Maybe if I had a professional account access I could have found it.

But I kept digging and finally found a website that had a part number for the griddle. Great. Eventually I found a place that had a few left in stock. Annoyingly they weren’t listed as being for my stove, but for the model after mine that I suppose was still being made.

I looked carefully at the illustration for the part and it looked like mine, so I took a chance and bought one. It came the other day and it fit perfectly. And it was so nice and new I had to spend all day yesterday basically giving the stove a detailing.

I’ll try my best to keep the one I installed clean between uses like I did Bill’s new one. But I went back to where I bought the new griddle and bought a second one just to keep in storage. I use the griddle Lots, and my cardiologist would probably not approve, but in my defense I fry with olive oil which they say is actually good for the heart. Two should last me for however long I have to live in this house.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Squoosh Me…Go Ahead…

I’m at my drafting table wiping off the iPad Pro screen when I decide I need the lamp on to better judge how clean I’m getting it. As I reach over to the lamp switch I notice the button looks a bit odd. Then I see that there’s a wasp sitting right on top of the button. 

Okay…so I’m not pressing that button right this minute…

Two thoughts come to mind. 1) How the hell did that get in here? and 2) How the hell am I getting it out?

It seemed a bit sluggish, so I grabbed a small cup and with a paper towel knocked it into the cup and covered the cup with the towel. Then I took it outside and shook it out, thinking it would just fall to the ground, but no, it flew right off. Away from me and the house thankfully.

All I can think is I’ve had the windows open much of the daytime since I’ve been back. Weather’s nice enough for it and after three months and a tad of being shut up the house probably needed to breath. But I’ve screens on all the windows and storm doors. I guess they find little gaps to crawl through but I don’t see any.

I suppose it’s that time of year for all the bugs to be looking for winter digs. No…not here you don’t…

by Bruce | Link | React!

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