Monday, July 31, 2006

Not again!?

First, some minor car trouble. A worrisome “bup, bup” in the right rear wheel area when going slowly over small bumps. The kind of noise a wheel makes when the lug nuts are not tight, or something else is just starting to get loose.

Yes I took the wheel off, tightened everything I could get a wrench on, and put it all back together plenty snug. No there was no change in symptoms.

And the cruise control just quit working one day. I found one associated part (a vacuum pump) that was making a noise it hadn’t made before and figured that was the problem. It’s a dealer-only part, so I ordered one and installed it. No, that didn’t fix it.

So this afternoon I took my commute-to-work Mazda Protégé (9 years old with only 163,000 miles on it) to the dealer’s service department. I’m betting on at least $600 to fix both problems. Any takers?

THEN, (I hope you’re ready for this), Carol called me today while trying to print out some wedding invitations she has created for our friend Ruth. They’re gorgeous, with a golfing motif and a picture of Ruth and her fiancé standing together on the golf course.

The problem? Our nearly-brand-new photo printer (an Epson, NOT the HP all-in-one that was giving me problems a month or two ago) had printed about half the invitations when it suddenly started refusing to feed paper.

It’s like the paper just got a little too slick for the pick-up rollers to grab. The printer would try twice to grab the paper, and then an error message would pop up telling me there was a paper jam. We kept clearing the error and trying again; over and over.

We managed to get 5 more printed before it just refused to allow any more paper to feed in.

We had been using heavy matte paper, so I cancelled that print job and tried printing a little text on a sheet of plain old copy paper. No problem – that worked like a champ.

Back to the matte paper. No go. This printer is supposed to be able to handle light and heavy stock, including matte, glossy, semi-gloss, one-sided, two-sided, and more.

I told Carol the paper may be too dry. She used her steam iron to heat up the leading edge just slightly. It worked!!

So now I’m sitting here watching as each sheet finishes printing and Carol rushes in with the next one, fresh from the ironing board. It’s all I can do not to make some snide comments, but she DOES have a hot iron in the other room and I don’t want to press my luck.

But somewhere, I fear, the “C” is laughing its a** off at the two of us right now.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

And Sunday as well

Another hot day, but the breeze was blowing enough to keep things from being stifling. Yeah, we played golf again, but today we rode in a cart. Walking in the heat yesterday took a lot out of both of us.

Today was just relaxing and pleasant. A good finish to a good weekend.

Carol’s game was back on track, so she beat me (as usual). Yesterday was an aberration in that regard.

We spent quality time together, enjoyed each other, and are ready to face the coming week.

Isn’t that what weekends are for?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A good Saturday

Mowed yesterday evening after work. Changed the oil in the commute-to-work car this morning, then took care of a couple of chores that were waiting for my attention. Played a round of golf. Actually got pars on four holes (Kirsten!), offset by several double- and triple-bogies. Shot a 94.

Carol’s game was off today, so her score was slightly higher. Unusual!

That’s golf, though.

Came home and cleaned up/cooled off. Paid some bills. Carol has some home-made spaghetti and a loaf of home-made Italian bread to go with it already made for supper.

Been through my blogroll and made comments here and there. Ready for a nice, relaxing evening.

Yep, a pretty good Saturday!

Friday, July 28, 2006


Often not a good thing, complacency. Especially when something of real value is at stake.

When we get complacent, we’re not as alert as at other times. We lapse into routines and habits.

Since it is born out of becoming accustomed to events and surroundings that seemingly never vary, complacency is comfortable

Complacency can lull a good driver into accepting brief distractions, because nobody coming the other way ever crosses the centerline, right?

In a small town, neighbors don’t lock their doors at night because nobody ever comes inside the house with evil intent. “Hasn’t happened around here in years. In fact, I don’t remember the last time anybody got robbed in this area.” Sound familiar?

And for years we get away with it. Because for those who live where the pace of life and of change is slow, the odds are long in favor of things continuing on as they have in the past.

So what’s my point?

Last weekend Carol and I hitched up the camper-trailer and headed for the Austin area. We left on Friday afternoon, and returned roughly 48 hours later to find our double garage door wide open.

That double door is controlled by an electric opener, so when it’s closed you can’t get it open without a remote control. And the other outside doors to our house are locked when we leave town. But there is a door from our garage into our kitchen that is never locked. So from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, the house was open to anyone who might have chosen to enter and help themselves to its contents.

I had a momentary vision of our personal items rifled, the inside of the house vandalized, anything of fast (pawn) value gone, and worse. But nothing had been touched. I doubt very much if anyone ever set foot on the property.

Maybe the fact that there was still one car, my little commute-to-work Mazda, parked there in the open garage as an indication that someone might be at home helped. Or maybe the fact that we always leave a few lights turned on but attached to timers to give the illusion of someone’s presence made a difference.

But more likely, nobody even noticed the open house or thought of it as an opportunity.

Usually when we leave, we back out of the garage and watch the doors close as we’re backing down the driveway to the street. But when we hitch up the trailer we’re always facing away from the house and don’t notice such things as we pull away.

It’s said that locked doors will only keep out an honest man or a very casual intruder, but not someone determined to get in. Maybe so. But the momentary shocking images passing through my mind when I noticed the wide open doors to the garage will probably help me remember to close that darned thing next time we leave.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Drought broken

While many parts of this country (and others) are suffering from record heat, we who live near the Texas coast have been getting rained on for the past several days.

So much so, in fact, that I heard on the radio this morning that with the 7 inches we’ve received in the last few days Victoria, TX, is now slightly above its “normal” rainfall total for this far into the year. Gee, just a few months ago we were supposed to be in “extreme drought” conditions. RobotJam over in Warwick, England, was asking me to come collect some of the rains that had his garden saturated and haul the water back here.

It looks like Mother Nature has handled that feat for us.

So is the moral of the story that all things balance out in time? Perhaps, “Be careful what you wish for – you might get it?”

Don’t know, but the rain is certainly welcome.

Oh, and there’s still no public word on the investigation of my neighbor’s house fire and her death. From our perspective the fire was almost certainly set. With gasoline or a similar accelerant. But we don’t know for certain, so that’s just speculation.

When we learn more I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I did it.

I put the picture of the hippo's rear end in Candace's profile and wrote my guest post.

Later I noticed that if you put your cursor over the picture, the little "placeholder" pops up. It says, simply, "Me."

If she only knew! Here's what the front end looks like.

You'll have to navigate over to her place to see the rear. It looks tiny in the profile shot, but...

Feel free to leave her a comment telling her what a good likeness the picture is.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Plotting evil!

One of my long-time blog buddies, Candace, (who also likes to be known as Chenoah, but calls her blog “Chapterhouse”) is off on a vacation trip to London this week.

Doubtless she and husband Tomcat are touring all the London pubs and singing,

“Eng-land swings like a pendulum do,
Bobbies on bicycles, two by two.
Westminster Abby, the tower of Big Ben,
The rosy red cheeks of the little children.”

(That was an old Roger Miller song, in case you’ve forgotten. Or aren’t old enough to remember Roger Miller.)

During her absence she asked others on her own blogroll to fill in for her while she’s gone. I notice today that Old Horsetail Snake did his duty on Monday and put up a typical hilarious guest post!

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my scheduled day. You’ll need to go by her site tomorrow and see what I decide to do. For the moment, I have no idea what I’ll write about, but I’m plotting. Evil.

For starters, since she so trustingly gave us her blog ID and password, I think I’ll change her profile picture to the rear end of a hippopotamus. I’m serious! I HAVE several good pictures of those from my Africa trip of 2001. (And boy, you talk about a fat ass!)

Not that I would EVER intimate that Candace had a fat, er... “behind.” But she SAID we could post anything we wanted to.

Then I might take her suggestion and write about my own travels to England. Or I might just publish her ID and password so the whole WORLD can go to her blog dashboard and wreak havoc in her name. Ha!

Nah, I can’t be destructive. But I CAN have some fun! And she said she wouldn’t have access to a computer over there, so she won’t know what I’ve done until she gets back!


So, go check it out tomorrow, and run up her hit counter.


Monday, July 24, 2006

I’ll bet YOU’VE never done this...

I’m an HR manager. For most of my career I’ve had little to do with the finance and accounting side of the companies I’ve worked for after my military service. That changed about a year ago.

The plant where I work was sold by the big company that had just bought it less than 2 years earlier. During their tenure we had extensive corporate support (and oversight) for every function. I reported to a local Plant Manager, but I also took HR direction from a higher-up HR manager at another plant, a division HR chief, and a corporate HR V.P.

Then suddenly our little plant was sold and became its own company headquarters. All that support and oversight disappeared. The division of labor blurred as well, and under our new roles HR took on the responsibility for payroll and benefits accounting. That’s mainly because our finance manager was too busy getting all the bills paid and doing all of the reporting the banks (that had financed the purchase of the business) required.

As time passed, an audit brought the recommendation that someone outside of the department that paid the bills (Finance) should sign the checks. No, there was no suspicion of wrongdoing. But in today’s post-Enron climate of Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, and the need to avoid any possibility of financial funny business, somebody thought the HR manager ought to be signing checks and approving wire transfers of money.

Okay by me. It all pays the same, as they say.

Well, today I was asked to approve a wire transfer (like signing a check) for...

(Are you ready?)

Just over $2.7 million!

Zowee! At the stroke of MY pen (actually the click of my mouse, with my little special coded I.D. generator), I sent $2.7 million flowing from our account to that of a big oil company to pay for feedstock to our plant.

You talk about a feeling of power!

(Now, if I can just figure out how to send a few of those wire transfers to MY account in the Bahamas...)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Another weekend out of town

Last week (Thursday and Friday) the IACVB was in Austin.

Huh? What’s that, you say?

You don’t KNOW what the IACVB is?

Neither did I. No clue, in fact. Well, from this point on you will always remember (right?) that the IACVB is theInternational Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.” Next question? Oh, you ask, why did I care?

I didn’t. But Amy, my younger daughter who lives in Chicago, attended the conference as a prospective vendor (they call them “Business Partners”) to these visitor bureaus. So Carol and I took our camper to a park near Austin, played some golf (natch!), and spent Saturday afternoon and evening with our daughter.

So, I had no time to post to the ol’ blog. But check out Amy’s company web site if you get a chance. They call themselves Lectronimo Studio, and specialize in cutting edge interactive learning experiences.

You gotta love the logo, if nothing else.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

But what will everyone think if I...

My good blogging friend and writer M. E Ellis wrote in a personal post today:

"I’ve embraced my new lease of life, started again as my real self, as someone who can say and do what I feel inside instead of worrying about what other people think. I can express my thoughts and feelings without fear now. No one scares me anymore. No human being has a hold over me. I am accountable only to myself. It is my conscience that will plague, should I fall from grace. I have learned to apologise, admit when I am wrong. I have learned to accept other people for who they are, know if they choose to live their life a certain way that is their decision. I know that if people do something or act in a way that I find uncomfortable, I no longer have them in my life."

If you have not yet adopted that liberating attitude, you should consider it.

I was probably at least in my 40s before I began to realize that worrying about what other people think is a form of bondage. Or should I say "slavery?"

Now, I differ in that I consider myself accountable to God. Yes, I do believe in Him; quaint though that may seem to some. But I have my own proof. And, as stated above, I don't really care what others think about that. If I did, they would have a real form of power over me.

I think that anyone who wants to be a writer will save themselves a LOT of agony by realizing that just because someone doesn't like or enjoy their work, that does not necessarily mean it's "bad." Different folks like or dislike different stuff. That's why we have so much diversity. And that's good. As I wrote to another writer this week, we'd like everyone to like what we write, but that isn't going to happen.

I wrote a post a few days ago about satisfaction, in which I declared that I am easily amused or made happy. I think that's because I try to live up to a certain set of standards, but I'M the judge of my own success or failure. If I fail, I consider the reasons and correct them. But since they are my own standards, based on my lifetime of experience about right and wrong, what works vs. what doesn't, they are not that hard for me to meet. So I usually do. So I'm usually happy and satisfied.

Simple isn't it? (Simple, aren't I?)

Sorry. I don't usually wax philosophical in a non-humorous vein. I'll be better again tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This is a Drill, This is a Drill!

Today at work we had a spill of 3,000 barrels of naphtha into a canal that is part of the inland waterways system.

A tankerman fell off the barge that was receiving the product and was missing for over an hour. We feared the worst. Aggravating that situation was the sighting of an alligator on the bank of the canal. (Yes we actually have wild alligators in South Texas.)

The Coast Guard and other regulatory agencies showed up. All normal plant operations shut down while we searched for the missing man, stopped the flow of product into the water, contained what was there and began the recovery operations.

Clean-up will take days, if not weeks, and will likely cost our insurance company millions of dollars.

Oh, the missing tankerman was spotted by a passing tug boat. He had made it to the canal bank but was unable to climb up the steep muddy walls and had to be rescued by the local fire department, whose personnel rappelled down to him.

Meanwhile we planned and strategized like crazy, notified just about every governmental agency (local, state and federal) you can imagine, set up a claims hotline, ordered in lots of supplies and help for the clean-up, and generally ran around like the proverbial headless chickens.

I had to deal with irate local citizens who wanted huge compensation for some oil spots on their pleasure boats, and the fact that the exposure will almost certainly (in their opinion) cause all of them to die from cancer in a few years. One of them claimed his cows were all acting sick, although they were upwind of the spill. Then I got to hold a press conference and explain how we had managed to destroy the local ecology, and possibly the local economy as well.

Yes, it was just a drill. No, none of it really happened. But we learned a lot from it.

Most of all we learned that we NEVER, EVER want it to happen for real!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


What do you think of this Company Policy (where a friend of mine works) prohibiting harassment?

“All employees in a supervisory capacity, especially managers, must take every precaution to avoid any statements or conduct that may be construed as harassment, including sexual harassment. Innocent comments or behavior may be misconstrued, especially by subordinates.” (A little patronizing here, maybe.)

“For this reason the Company strongly discourages supervisors, especially managers, from socializing with subordinates outside the workplace.” (Walking a thin line there, but it’s okay to “discourage” something.)

“Any employee, including any manager, who violates the Company’s policy against harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include termination of employment.”

Okay so far, right? Good and reasonable in today’s climate of zero tolerance for some types of behavior.

But how about the next sentence:

“While the Company cannot prohibit supervisors from socializing with subordinates outside the workplace, such behavior can be cause for disciplinary action, including termination of employment.”

I love that sentence. The first half states that the Company knows it cannot prohibit certain behavior (and that’s true—as a matter of law; it can’t). But the second half says it will nevertheless try.

My friend asked me if he should sign at the bottom acknowledging receipt of the policy and understanding of it. I told him that in my opinion he should go ahead and sign it. After all he DID receive it, and he DOES understand it. That doesn’t mean he agrees with it or will necessarily comply with the letter of it.

I also advised him that he might want to polish up his resume and begin testing the job waters near where he lives. His employer is a small business (sole proprietor), and it sounds to me as if the boss is a control freak. This may not be the last aspect of none-of-his-business employee behavior he tries to control.

Monday, July 17, 2006

All That's Left...

...Of the family:

When Carol and I and our two girls moved here in 1986—20 years ago; it doesn’t seem possible!—the family in the house behind ours across the short chain-link fence consisted of Jerry, Ilona, and their three children.

Jerry was much older than his bride. He had been married before, and was starting a second family in his mid-to-late fifties. Ilona was 29.

I remember Bo, their one little girl born last after the two boys, running around the backyard as a toddler. She would splash in a little inflatable pool in the summer, when our girls were in their early teens swimming in our in-ground pool.

Years later Jerry retired from Union Carbide. But before too much time passed he was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed about 18 months later.

Then it was Ilona and the teen-age kids.

A few years later their older boy, terribly allergic to poison ivy, got into some of that vine somewhere and was taking large doses of antihistamine to keep from requiring admission to the hospital. He went to a party in that condition, had a few drinks (but not many, according to others there), came home and sat in a recliner while Ilona his mother went to bed.

The next morning she awoke to find him, still in the recliner, dead.

Then it was Ilona and her two remaining children; a brother and a sister. Those two, now young adults, moved out of the house. Her son married and has produced grandchildren. Bo became engaged late last year, but then we read in the local paper just a few months ago that her fiancé passed away. We never heard what caused his death.

And then, yesterday, Ilona died in the fire that completely destroyed her house.

Now there remains Bo and her brother.

...Of the house:

Merely a brick shell and a slab; little more.

Throughout the day today the investigation by the state Fire Marshall continued, including the use of a dog to sniff out any possible accellerants.

Clearly the heat had been intense.

From my back yard we can see through the shell of the home to the street on the other side.

All that's left of lives and dreams and possessions.

Makes you think.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

No humor tonight

Carol and I got home from the golf course just before 4 p.m. today.

We drove past my back-yard neighbor's house, and saw her in the driveway with a couple of other people. About 30 minutes later we heard a siren not far away. Carol happened to look out across our back yard and saw this:

Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles were already arriving, so there was nothing we could do to help. Once I determined that, I grabbed the camera.

At one point, a man who had been living there ran across the back yard calling the name of the lady who was the home owner, yelling for her to get out.

I know these images look repetitive, but they are taken from my backyard across the fence to the neighbor's house. The time between them was about 3-4 minutes each.

Through the dense smoke you can see the Victoria Fire Department doing their best to put out the flames. Below one of the firemen seems to be ginving his evaluation of the event.

An altogether bad scene. We've heard from other neighbors that they saw someone being taken out of a window, put on a stretcher, and covered up. We assume that was our neighbor.

More information and possibly pictures (I took 70) tomorrow.

What a horrible situation!

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Mick Jagger sang that he couldn't get any.

Maybe he was searching too hard, or looking for it in the wrong places.

I've found satisfaction in such small tasks as balancing the checkbook. (Got a bank statement in the mail today, so made sure my check register had the right total. It did! It doesn't always, so it feels good when it does.)

I find satisfaction in a good golf shot. Even though most (or all) of the others in a round may not be that good. The one (or several) good ones provide enough of that elusive emotion that I want to keep playing the game.

Wait... Is satisfaction an emotion? It seems to be one. Any thoughts on that?

I also find satisfaction in completing a routine task. Today, for example, I managed to get the entire yard mowed and most of it trimmed and edged as well (you know— with a weed-eater, or string trimmer?)

It feels good, even if the feeling is fleeting because the effects of the accomplishment are short-lived.

So what's my point? Today (Saturday) I managed to get the yard mowed and trimmed, the checkbook balanced and reconciled with the bank statement, and we played 18 holes of golf during which I managed to hit a few really good shots. Like the tee shot on the par 3 third hole at our home course; it stopped less than a foot from the hole! Woo-Hoo!!

My wife loves me, life is good, and despite Mick's lament I feel pretty satisfied.

I know—I'm easily entertained and made happy.

But still, it's a good feeling.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Christina asked for our golf scores from our trip from Alabama.

Daughter, I thought we’d raised you better than that!

As Michelle pointed out, much pleasure is derived from viewing the gorgeous scenery and the wildlife. Golf courses can indeed be like botanical gardens.

We constantly discover new things.

For example, the last two pictures in my post from yesterday? That creature is not an ant at all, but a “Red Velvet Wasp.” The males have tiny wings, but the females have no wings at all. The one Carol photographed must have been a female (no wings in evidence). The critters have a vicious sting, and are also called “cow killers.”

I am NOT making this up. If you don’t believe me, Google “red velvet wasp.” You’ll see pictures that are not as good as hers!

The internet sources we looked at said that although there have been no documented cases of these insects actually killing a cow, their stings (especially from a swarm of them) can be extremely painful and can cause bruising and swelling, sometimes for months after the actual attack.

That’s just one example of new things we’ve seen on golf courses.

Another would be the amazing recurring phenomenon of golf balls (hit by me, not your mother) that seem to have a supernatural attraction for water and/or trees.

Keeping track of actual SCORE, in accordance with the “Rules of Golf,” can be a real distraction from the beauty and spectacle of a golf course.

But (*SIGH*) if you MUST know... Your mother played quite well (including getting an eagle on a par 5 and several birdies) despite the difficulties of those very hard golf courses.

I, on the other hand, had a score which would be best described by the one-word title of your blog post of today.

Get the picture?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Our trip (Photos!)

Okay. Enough about the "C" and computer problems.

Here's the post you've been waiting for. Well, some of you have. For a week, at least.

Carol's pictures of our trip to play golf in Alabama over the July 4'th holiday weekend!

Without further build-up or ado, click HERE to see them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Michelle – Taht smees ot eb a doog aedi, gnitirw sdrawkcab os eht “C” t’now dnatsrednu ti. I epoh ti skrow! Tub, s’tahw a “rpinter?” Oh, and I did get Skype and have it all set up at home. I’m afraid though, that with our 9-hour (I think) time difference you’ll likely be in bed by the time I get home from work in the afternoons.

Rob – a “kinetic recalibration,” huh? I kinda like that. Sounds like what I’d want to do to a robot. If I had one. And if it jammed. And if that didn’t fix the problem, the solution might just be to get a bigger hammer!

BWH – That sounds like a line from “Pancho and Lefty.” Something like, “Ah, but that’s the way it goes.” (You gotta love Willie Nelson singing with Merle Haggard.)

Christina – That sounds about right... 5 minutes after the installation guy leaves, the first malfunction occurs. The “C” in action! (Along with Murphy, who didn’t actually START the “C,” but who was one of the early pioneers in recognizing it and pointing it out to people.

One more note about this, to all of you. For several years I’ve carried back and forth to work a Flash Drive. Know what that is? It’s a little pocket-size (about like a butane cigarette lighter, if you’re not too young to know what those are) electronic device with NO moving parts that plugs into a computer’s USB port and is seen as a small disk drive.

I carry it with files stored on it, and can thus transfer them from my work computer to my home machine, and back. It holds one gigabyte, so it’s for files too big to just email back and forth. Faster, too.

Anyway, this device has worked for years. But today, my computer at work stopped recognizing it as a disk drive. It sees it on the system as a hardware device, but can’t read from it or write to it.

Our I.T guy was able to designate it as a different drive “letter,” and it worked again. How did it get changed in the first place, from what used to work every day?

Who knows?

(The “C” knows!)

Monday, July 10, 2006

The "C" seems to be winning

I replaced the CMOS battery. No change in operation or error message.

Then I uninstalled and completely disconnected the offending printer/scanner/copier (herinafter referred to as the "printer") including all software and drivers associated with it.

I rebooted, and STILL had the message "Press F1 to resume."


In defeat, after reboot I re-installed some new printer drivers from the HP web site, turned the ##*!!*&%#! thing on, and found that Windows had no trouble recognizing it for what it was. I can print. I can scan (from Photoshop). I can copy from the controls on the printer itself.

So I have full functionality with a few "workarounds," but I still have an interrupted reboot.

Well, I think I can live with that.

My concern is that something else (like a hard drive) might be failing. That's the third possible reason given for that "F1" error message, after "improperly connected hardware," and "weak battery."

A new computer may be in my near-term future, but not until additional functions go away.

SO... Another day with no writing or other work done on the computer, and little time for reading all of YOUR blogs.

Damned "C!"

P. S. Since the vote was just about unanimous (in the comments to yesterday's post) that I should buy a new computer... Well, if each one of you who voted will kindly send me $100, I can get exactly the model I've been drooling over!

(You can email the money. I can hear it now:

"Duke, I emailed that check weeks ago. I guess the "C" must have got it.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006


About my computer and printer problems...

First, thanks to those of you who have offered suggestions. r.e. wolf, I've tried the complete unplugging and disconnecting and rebooting numerous times (including disabling all the USB functions that the printer established before re-connecting and re-booting). No luck.

I just Googled "Press F1 to continue" and learned that error message can be caused by anything from a new hardware installation to a failing hard drive, or even a dying CMOS battery. I'm kind of betting now on the failing CMOS battery (although that also is what keeps the date and time function working—and they still are so I don't know—but this computer is now 5 years old and could need a new little battery.)

Maybe the two problems are related and the computer is sensing the printer problem as an improperly connected piece of new hardware. Maybe the USB hub I added has a problem and that caused all the rest.

But MAYBE it's the "C," trying to convince me I need a new computer.

You know, one of those dual processor, faster, sleeker, sexier ones! *Drool* I mean, the computer I'm using is one I assembled from individual components 5 years ago. Even though I had help from our I.T. guy at work, there was a lot of "trial and error" (heavy on the "error!").

Oooooo. It IS tempting.

But first I'll talk to my I.T. guys again and try everything I know to try. And to keep this "problem" in proper perspective, I CAN still use the computer and printer. The printer still prints just fine — it's the scan function that is questionable. And I can still scan using commands from Photoshop.

I tend to be "conservative" (read: "tight") with my money, so unless it fails I'll probably keep using this machine for a while yet.

Meanwhile I'll replace the CMOS battery and see what happens. That's probably the cheapest possible fix.

Stand by for further news as it breaks (pun intended).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fighting the “C”

Sorry. I apologize.

I had planned to post some of Carol’s nice photographs, with a humorous narrative to go along with them. I had also planned to scan and post a comic strip that seemed applicable to my narrative.

But when I tried to use the HP software to operate my HP all-in-one scanner/printer/copier, I got an error message saying that the scanner didn’t seem to be properly connected, and the computer could not communicate with it.

I have spent much of the rest of today trying unsuccessfully to fix the problem.

It HAS to be a problem with the software, because I can scan using Adobe Photoshop (same scanner, same connection). The error message originates from the HP software. I have removed that software and reinstalled it. I have downloaded current drivers and software from the HP web site. I have unplugged the scanner numerous times. I have disabled the USB drivers that operate the scanner using the Hardware Manager in Windows, and then tried to let Windows detect the scanner as “new hardware” and set it up as it desired.

None of that worked.

Why do I care, you ask? As long as I can scan using Photoshop, what difference does it make, right?

Well, it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing. It used to work fine. I didn’t do anything to the software. All I did was turn the computer off for 5 days while I was away in Alabama.

Oh, and there’s another thing. When I start the computer (reboot), before anything else appears on the screen I get a message I’ve NEVER seen before. It’s a black background with white print. It lists the Intel processor and speed, various pieces of hardware installed on the machine, and at the bottom tells me to “Press F1 to continue.” The startup process will not proceed until I press F1.

It NEVER used to do this. EVER! I came back from my vacation, turned the computer on for the first time in 5 days, and there was the message.


I have no idea.

Does it matter?

(Same answer.)

On Monday I’ll ask my I.T. guys at work. Chances are they won’t know either, but they’ll Google the problem and find the answer on some remote Geek site they know about. Meanwhile I’ve wasted an entire day I could have spent writing, or browsing your blogs, or doint something more productive.

The “C” is alive and well, folks.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Weekend? ALREADY!?

Y’know, I could get used to a 2-day work week REEEEEEL fast! And it only cost me one vacation day! What a deal.

Now it’s Friday evening. I’ve caught up with the posts of most of my blogroll regular readers from the last few days, left a bunch of comments (but not as many as I’d like to have left, so don’t feel bad if I missed commenting on yours), and sent out some emails. I have a stack of 5 newspapers to go through (mostly just scan quickly and read the important stuff — comics!) And in the two days I spent in the office I almost got caught up there too.

Especially since a lot of my co-workers spent THREE vacation days and took the entire week off. Sounds nice, but if I’d spent any more days trying to play golf in that heat I’d never have made it past about the third hole.

The hottest temperature I’ve ever played golf in was 108. No, that’s not the heat index; it’s the actual temperature. That was in Dallas about 7-8 years ago. But at least on that day the wind was blowing and the humidity was low. You had to drink water constantly, but it didn’t feel as hot as it did in Alabama.

Carol is working on the pictures she took, so maybe tomorrow I’ll have some for you to see. Tonight I need to mow the weeds lawn, and Carol has already hinted told me in no uncertain terms that I’m taking her out for Mexican food tonight.

So, you get another short post with little interesting stuff. *SIGH*

At least tomorrow’s SATURDAY!!

OH, hey! I almost forgot. Remember Christina, my older daughter who lives in Tampa? She's a frequent commenter on this blog and on some of your blogs also. (And a frequent victim of the "C." Shhhhh.)

Anyway, she has now started her own blog, in which she threatens to expose me for the charlatan I am. She knows better, however, because I have a LOT more interesting stories to tell about her than she does about me! Right Christina? So we'll both just keep all that family stuff private. Right? Right.

She's in my blogroll near the top (second one down). The title of her blog is "Another Day in Paradise." Stop by and say howdy if you have a minute. Thanks!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The “C?” Or just laziness?

Regardless of the cause, it was frustrating.

As I reported in my last post (last Sunday — 4 days ago), we were having a great time golfing in Montgomery and staying in our camper (with free Wi-Fi access).

Starting Monday our laptop could “see” several unsecured wireless networks, but do you think it could “connect” to any of them when told to do so? No. And why not? I’ll probably never know, so I might as well blame the “C,” right?

Once I WAS able to connect with “Limited connectivity” (translation: no internet. What good is that?) but never again, though I tried and tried.

Yes, I know. If I’d really been dedicated I could have drafted a blog post off line, and then taken the laptop a few blocks down the road from the campground and found another unsecured wireless network to connect to.

Call me un-dedicated.

Each day was enjoyable, but long and very hot. It was forecast to be at least 99 degrees each day we were there, and we had very little breeze. The golf course actually sent employees around the course in carts with ice chest full of ice and ice-water-soaked wash cloths. They handed them out to anyone who wanted one, and believe you me, they felt WONDERFUL!

I would lean back and spread one over my whole face and just let the ice water drip down around my neck and shoulders. Then I’d fold the icy cloth over in half and lay it around the back of my neck while I went to hit the next shot.

I guess my point is this: When we finished our 36 holes of golf each day and returned to the air conditioned camper, all I wanted was a cold beer or two, dinner, a shower, and to remain unmoving until bed time. I did NOT want to get in the car and drive somewhere to access the internet.

So we took a three-day vacation from emails and blogs, and just spent time with each other. That’s a very nice thing to do every now and then.

So yes, call me un-dedicated.

Oh, and on Wednesday (yesterday) we drove for nearly 13 straight hours pulling our camper home so I could go to work today. Last night, after putting things away and getting ready for work today, I didn’t even feel like reading everyone’s comments. I put that off until today and went to bed.

Today I read your comments and well-wishes for the 4th. I realized what a neat bunch of people this blog has allowed me to become acquainted with. Y’all are the best!

I apologize to those who stopped by several times and found nothing. We’re fine—just lazy. Carol DID take some pictures, but hasn’t even cropped or edited them yet, so they will wait another day or two. Maybe by tomorrow I’ll be all rested up and back in my usual irrepressible mood.

Check back... You never know!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Okay golf -- wonderful partners

Yes, we played the 36 holes of golf we had scheduled today. DESPITE the 99 degree heat and NO breeze!

Same is forecast for tomorrow.

Today, however, we were paired with another couple who we THOROUGHLY enjoyed spending the day with.

Sorry. I meant, "...with whom we THOROUGHLY enjoyed spending the day." I actually ended that previous sentence with a preposition. Horrors! I mean, heat exhaustion is no excuse for bad grammer, is it? (Carol says, "No.")

Their names were Larry and Vicki. He's an OB/GYN physician. They were some of the nicest people we've met playing golf. (Except YOU, Ruth. You and Donnie are at LEAST that nice!)

But they are from Kentucky, which is a "fur piece" from South Texas. So it's unlikely that we will be pal-ing around together much in the future.

(We DID learn that they go to Maui once a year, so maybe we could wrangle an invitation to join them some time... You think? Nah, I doubt it too.)

Anyway, we took no pictures today, but hope to get some tomorrow. We start earlier tomorrow and are hopeful that many people are NOT off work, so maybe the course will not be crowded and we'll be able to dawdle around the holes and get some good shots.

So... It's bed time now. I must retire and build my strength for another grueling wonderful day of heat and frustration pleasure. If YOU are off work tomorrow, have a great time. If not... well... find a job that gives you holidays like this.

Till tomorrow, all.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Is it hot where you are?

It's hot here!

We have arrived in Montgomery, AL, and are in an RV park with the camper all set up.

We're sitting in front of the airconditioner outflow trying to get our shirts dry before we go to eat supper somewhere.

Why are our shirts wet? Rain?


The temperature in central Alabama is 100 degrees plus (that's almost 40 C, Michelle), and we're drenched from moving around in the heat setting up the camper. One little town we passed through about 90 minutes ago had a bank sign that reported a temp of 105! I believe it.

Our camp site has no shade, so the little air conditioner is going full blast and has not yet gained any advantage over the heat-soaked interior of the camper.

Let me tell you, the ice-cold beer tasts WONDERFUL!

Okay, Carol is saying it's time to go find some supper. Guess that's all the post you get tonight. We DO have (pirated) Wi-Fi here, so I'll try to get you a report tomorrow evening about our first day of golf tomorrow. I know you just can't WAIT, but try.

Till tomorrow...