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?”

All I Wanted Was a Cheese Burger Combo

Its been awhile since I had stopped to eat in this particular fast food joint. You know the one, it’s commercials have the gorgeous redhead talking about buns. Most times I just go through the drive-thru and I’m on my way. but I needed to get away and clear my head this particular afternoon so I ate-in. It was the usual combo order where they set out an empty tray and hand you an empty paper cup just to give you something to do while you wait for food. With cup in hand I turn toward where the eight choice, push button soda fountain used to be. It’s not there. Same corner with the same condiments and straws and cup lids and plastic forks – but no sodas! Continue reading “All I Wanted Was a Cheese Burger Combo”

What’d He Say?

Years ago there was a movie directed by Orson Wells called “Citizen Kane“. It was about a reporter talking to everyone connected to a publishing tycoon in an attempt to discover the meaning of the tycoon’s last words. The movie started with the death of the wealthy man after he says the one word: ‘Rosebud’. No spoilers here, it’s a classic movie, you should see it for yourself.

Through out history when someone of note died, if he had said something great or not so great during his last days, they were quoted and remembered. Books have been written dedicated to the last uttered words of famous people.

Another great man died this week. He was not a tycoon, he was an actor. However his most famous character inspired thousands of young people, me included, to be interested in computers and technology. In my youth I could not miss an episode of Star Trek with Mr. Spock played by Leonard Nimoy. Continue reading “What’d He Say?”

My End of the Year List

Every one does lists this time of year and I’m not gonna be any different. It’s a way to celebrate the ending of the previous year and beginning of the new. Except that my list really has nothing to do with last year and very little to do with next year. My list is just “What’s pissing me off right now.”

  1. My wife. You show me someone whose spouse doesn’t piss them off and I’ll show you someone living alone. Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife to death. I wouldn’t be able to find my socks without her. But my wife is always dragging me into the middle of some hair-brained scheme. It’s like living with Lucy Ricardo only with skills and I’m Ricky Ricardo only without the accent. But just like those two, we always hug it out at the end of the episode.

Continue reading “My End of the Year List”

A Christmas Wish

You’re gonna die. (No, that’s not the wish so get over yourself and just keep reading.) You’re probably not gonna die today or tomorrow but sometime probably in the next 50 or 60 years you’re gonna die. Maybe it’ll be quick or maybe it’ll be after a long, protracted, painful illness. Now look at the family member next to you. They’re gonna die too. And it will be within the same probable time span.Christmas_Wreath_-_geograph.org.uk_-_639554

What if you knew that you would not be spending the Holiday Season with that family member next year because sometime in the coming year they are gonna die? Think about how would you spend this holiday time with them differently? Continue reading “A Christmas Wish”

Why Do You Want a White Christmas?

I don’t think some people realize what they are asking for when they say they want a white Christmas. Remember, the Christmas holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Also many of us still have shopping to do. So what you are really asking for is weather conditions that will cause delays in airplane, train and automobile travel. Conditions that will make even walking dangerous due to icy sidewalks.

This year it looks like the area I live in is not gonna get heavy white stuff for Christmas. But I’m not sure that makes up for the years when we had to walk through shoveled sidewalks that were reminiscent of World War 1 trench warfare and drive on streets full of wishes and hopes. The white snow matching your white knuckles as you wished it wasn’t so slick and you hoped you didn’t hit anything. Continue reading “Why Do You Want a White Christmas?”

A Few Thoughts on Voting

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 Deux

Last time, I discussed my nostalgia for wing windows on the the old cars from the sixties. But let’s face it, with fall weather moving in I wouldn’t be using them right now if I had them. So let’s move on to another thing that has gone the way of the Dodo, the art work that used to be found on 12 inch album covers.

Dark_Side_of_the_Moon
Album cover from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

One of the basic experiments in high school physics class is showing that white light breaks into a spectrum of colors when it shines through a prism. This was an easy one to remember not because we learned this from our teacher as much as we remembered the art work on the Pink Floyd album, Dark Side Of the Moon. This is one example of art work that was found on the covers of vinyl record album covers. Another one of my favorites was the Led Zeppelin III album. The album cover with the rotating volvelle was one of the original examples of user interaction. I’ve always really loved getting the Led out. I lost my virginity and a great deal of my hearing somewhere between the Immigrant Song and Gallows Pole.

Led Zeppelin III album cover.
Led Zeppelin III album cover.

In the late 1970’s, I dated a girl whose roommate was the manager of a record store. (Anyone been to Homer’s in the OM lately?) Her record collection was packed tight on a shelf measuring 10 and half feet. The girl had an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure music in addition to albums you could otherwise only hear on underground FM stations in the 70’s. I would spend hours listening to her collection, marveling at the art work on the covers of albums that I’d never heard of and wondering if I was dating the wrong roommate.

These days most music collections are just a bunch of computer files on a hard drive or smart phone. There is no physical art connected to the music other than the icon sized pictures on the playlist in the software. Sure you can still find a lot of the vinyl albums (For instance, used LPs at Homer’s)  but only OCD afflicted rich guys make the effort.

Yes, I’m definitely on the side that says nothing sounds better than analog albums played on a Garrard turntable with a Pickering cartridge and output to a Bogen Amplifier and Jensen speakers. But today unless you live in an anechoic chamber and have no neighbors within a football field’s distance, you have no hope of getting the “live performance sound” anyway so why bother? Earbuds just don’t make the quality of noise canceling headphones either. Since I’m usually singing along off key with the music anyway that makes it hard to fully appreciate the original artist’s talent.

And let’s not even mention the several friends I have that are using those turntables that have a USB output so they can put all their vinyl to digital. Let’s not mention that because I’m doing the same sort of thing with several thousand dollars worth of DVDs and VHS tapes that I want to see using iTunes. I’ve already finished ripping hundreds of CDs I bought in the 80’s and 90’s.  Yeah, I know it’s a huge copyright grey area. But what else is a person supposed to do?  Otherwise, every time the media technology changes I have to buy The White Album again.

And for the record (pun intended) pictures of album covers are used under the fair use clause of the United States Copyright laws and are copyright by their respective music groups and publishers.

Featured Image: “NadelAufPlatte” by Moehre1992 – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG#mediaviewer/File:NadelAufPlatte.JPG

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