Do We Need a Techie 12-Step Program?

“Hello, my name is Curmudgeon, and I’m a nerd.”
The crowd murmurs “Hello Curmudgeon.”
“Well it’s been kinda a tough week. I mean, it’s been months since I even so much as downloaded a new app for my phone. But my wife, Snowball, she keeps bringing home these cool tech toys from work like some cruel, 21st-century, junkie dealer. I try not to touch them or even look too close. Then the other day she brought home this little pc board with LEDs that emulated a six-sided dice piece. I broke! I fell off of the no-tech wagon! I wrote two programs in a language called Python to measure the accuracy of the randomness. And then I made it even worse by looking up the website for the pc board and learning how that gets programmed. I’m sorry! I couldn’t help myself! I need to make amends!” Continue reading “Do We Need a Techie 12-Step Program?”

A Few Thoughts on Voting

A grazing donkey

It’s three weeks until another election day and while watching TV this month its impossible not to see all the ads about political candidates. It makes me wish fondly for the days with breaks full of used cars and Cialis  commercials. I’m sure we’ll be getting back to those soon after the elections along with commercials full of cheery and hurried people trying to fulfill their empty dreams of Christmas.

In the mean time these political commercials remind us that everyone needs to get out and vote. That way there are more people that we can use to spread the blame wider and thinner for putting these jerks in office. Wider and thinner – just like spackling over a bad joint in drywall.

In the long run it won’t make a lot of difference how many citizens vote or who eventually gets in to office anyway after some court finally decides the winner. I’ve voted for over 40 years and all I can think of it must be my fault. I’m doing something wrong when I vote because everything in politics seems to just keep getting worse and worse.

It’s supposed to be easy to vote for the right guy. After all one of the slogans reminds us that voting is as easy as driving. You use ‘R’ to go backwards and ‘D’ to go forward. If that’s the case why do we keep picking the guy that drives the car through the back wall of the garage and over the swing set in the backyard? We can only hope that no children are playing on the swing set when he hits it.

Well since this is the way we know things work and it’s better than most of the other systems in the world, let’s give the candidates one more chance. Even if you think it doesn’t matter who you vote for – just get out and vote.

Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be. Part 1

I’m not a big one for nostalgia. I’m the kind that says “Hey, well that happened. Now what?” I mean I remember when TV dinners came wrapped in tin foil because they went into an actual oven, not a microwave. Telephones used to be big black boxes with a dial on the front that had to sit on their own table. And long distance calls were only used for business and birthdays because they cost extra. These things have all changed mostly for the better. But there are two things I do miss from my younger days.

594px-1965_AMC_Ambassador_detail_of_vent_window
Vent or wing window on a 1965 AMC Ambassador.

The first one is car wing windows. I realized this the day I was driving down the road on a beautiful summer afternoon with the windows down and I noticed that all the fresh air was going into the back seat. There wasn’t anyone sitting back there so what was that all about? Then I remembered wing windows. The little triangle window in the front corner next to the side rearview mirrors. In the old days you could open these and they would funnel the air right into your face as your were driving. It was great. You could enjoy a car ride just like a labrador retriever without having to stick your head out the window and getting bugs in your teeth. And if you drove fast enough the slip stream going through the car would clean out the ashtrays.

The most quoted reason for the end of vent windows was the widespread addition of air conditioning in cars. The vents were no longer needed if you were gonna keep them closed and the windows rolled up with the A/C on. There were also theories that the aerodynamics were better without them so you would get better gas mileage. But I was there. I remember that they stopped putting wing windows on cars when they realized they were the easiest way to break in to a locked car. A bad guy just had to put a little effort in to twisting the window from the outside and he could reach in and open the door. The car makers kept making the wing window smaller and smaller until they disappeared. Today, stealing stuff from a car takes some effort. It takes an experienced car thief or an asshole with a big rock to break the window when they look in a car and see a multi-thousand dollar laptop with an apple logo screaming “Take Me” like some drunken prom queen, albeit with a slightly different meaning.

So during that summer afternoon drive mentioned earlier, I put a cupped hand out next to the side mirror and the fresh air started coming in. All was right with the world or at least a little better for a few moments any way. That is until I had to use both hands to swerve around a guy who slammed on his breaks in front of me. Then I rolled over the ball in the street that was being chased by the boy that the other driver had slammed on his brakes for. The ball came out from underneath the back of my car with only a few fresh oil stains. But I digress.

Next time, in part two, I will give you my thoughts on the greatest lost art form of the 20th century.

Gas Mileage

I asked her, “What kind of gas mileage are you getting in your car?”

She answered, “I have to fill it up about every two weeks.”

“Oh…”, I said, “That’s good… Thanks.”