They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Friday, February 06, 2009

Loose Ends

None of these things are worth a separate post but I don't want to lose track of them.

John sent a great article about how the web has changed how we read and think. Worth looking at if you haven't seen it. Is Google Making Us Stupid?

I spent about a week trying to figure out why the power management features on the new computer would not kick in. The PC is configured to, after 10 minute intervals of inactivity, first go to screensaver, then turn off the monitor, then put the computer to sleep. It would do that occasionally but usually it would not. I observed it going into the screensaver and then returning to the desktop on numerous occasions. I made 4 changes, one of which resolved the issue:

  1. in MSCONFIG, turned off the startup for itunes

  2. in MSCONFIG, turned off the startup for quicktime

  3. in MSCONFIG, turned off the startup for adobe

  4. removed the link for Logitech desktop messenger from the startup folder
I don't know which one did it but it is not worth debugging since I don't think any of them do anything useful, they just make the computer take longer to start up. The Logitech thingie is there because I have a Logitech webcam and because of the Harmony remote software. I think all that it did was check for new versions and try to sell me things. All of this crap was presumably on on the previous computer, but I guess it interacts differently with Vista.

I got really disgusted with my phone the other day. I realized that I was stuck with it for a while, since it had a two year contract and was purchased in July of last year. So... after making sure that I had copies of everything that was useful on it, I installed Windows Mobile 6.1 (which does a master reset of the phone, i.e. wipes out everything except what is on the storage card.) I also did NOT reinstall Good Messaging, decided to go back to ActiveSync for email/calendar/etc. So for I like it much better.

Among other things, I installed an application that interfaces with Netflix. You can view and update your queue, and also play trailers. I really like the ability to play the trailers.

Two nights ago, we were watching TV when we suddenly heard this voice in the next room, calmly announcing something or other. I got up, hit pause on the remote for the DVR and went in the room. By that time it (she it turned out) was done with the announcement. There were several suspect devices in the room.: two computers, two landline phones with speakers, and the recently upgraded cellphone. The likely culprits were the phone and the new computer, but the computer alleged to be sleeping (see above) and the phone was not lit up. No clue.

So last night it happened again. This time I did not stop to pause the TV. Both of us ran into the study and heard a British woman jabbering about Phoenix weather. The clock in the living room was chiming 9:00. Still nothing lit up but Susan thought it was coming from the cellphone. I unlocked it (stupid Motorola security) and noticed that the icon list at the top of the display was claiming that the most recent application to be used was WorldMate Live. That is a nifty application that does time, weather, currency conversion, flight status, you can access stored itineraries, etc. I have a "gold" subscription because of some arrangement that they have with Motorola. I had installed a newer version of it when I redid the phone stuff. The new one apparently has feature that causes this nice lady to read a weather forecast at a scheduled time. The default for this curious feature is ON and for it to occur at 9 pm. Needless to say she will no longer intrude. I can't imagine what the developers were thinking.

I have finished 3 books in the last couple of weeks. I mentioned When I Was Five I Killed Myself in the previous post. The other two books were Boom! by Tom Brokaw and Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert. Both of these books were written by people from NBC News and both were more or less historical pieces that covered years in my memory. The two books could not have been different. The Brokaw book was a treasure trove of historical information, a lot of it quite fascinating, some of it worth skipping. My favorite parts were personal notes concerning people I was familiar with. The two references to Hunter S. Thompson were great. The first concerned Brokaw's wife.

My wife, Meredith, once shared a cross-country flight with him during the closing days of the Nixon administration. They had a very pleasant visit, and as the plane began its descent into Los Angeles, Thompson leaned accross the seat almost apologetically and said to Meredith, "Look, I've only got one tab of acid, but I'd be willing to share it with you." She politely declined.
The other reference comes up in a discussion about ├╝ber-Conservative Pat Buchanan:

One of his unlikely occasional companions, when I knew him in Washington, was Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the pill-popping, invective-spewing, hilarious godfather of gonzo journalism. Thompson would blow into Washington on an assignment for Rolling Stone magazine, call up Buchanan, and off they'd go on a beer-drinking all-nighter, arguing their respective views of the world in long verbal jousts that seldom were resolved.

Buchanan recounts these occasions happily, saying "I don't know how he did it. He must have had a case of beer, and yet he was swimming laps in the pool at my house." Thompson liked to call Buchanan, the "best right-wing propagandist since Goebbels," a description Buchanan often repeats with a big guffaw.
It was great book, but still, it was clear that Brokaw, who is 10 years older than me (and Russert) did not exerience the 60's in so much as he reported on them. You get this impression of him as a stuffy guy who wanted to seem cool but never quite got it. Of Woodstock, which he did not attend, he said
It was a mass of hippie humanity, glorying in the sky above and the mud below, cold and wet, with good grass and bad acid.
I have heard a lot about Woodstock but never that the acid was bad.

Russert, on the other hand, arrived at Woodstock on the first night. He and his buddies had 8 cases of beer stacked on their car and a banner for their favorite Buffalo radio station. They "paid eight bucks a piece for our tickets and got up close to the stage." They were wearing Buffalo Bills jerseys. Decidely un-cool or at least atypical but they were there and had a great time. He seems like the kind of person that you wish you knew. I wouldn't have much to say to Brokaw.

Russert's book, purportedly about his father and their relationship, is really an autobiography. There is a lot about the man that I do not relate to. He came from an ethnic, religious, blue collar family, none of which resonates much with me. It seems though, that his growing up in the same era, with many of the same experiences, makes him seem extremely relevant. His humanity, his humor, his feelings for his family all make a lot of sense. His death was very sad, this last year was a hugely enjoyable time from a political standpoint, the primary season was like nothing this country had seen before, and in the process we really got to know the man, and how much he loved politics, the process, the people. Just when it was getting good he was gone.

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