Saturday, October 31, 2009

Doc Discovers A New Way To Injure Himself And The Events Leading Up To It

Some time ago I wrote about various accidental, "impossible" ways to injure myself. Until the times at which they came to pass, none would have even occurred to me. I had not given them any forethought, and if I had, I still would have believed them to be extremely low in their probability of occurrence. I do not believe that I am accident prone. That would imply that I had some character flaw or an unconscious need to punish myself for my past misdeeds. I have no such need, as I usually get caught. No, this is a stranger phenomenon. Accidents actively pursue me, stealthily awaiting their chance for a sneak attack. Although I am almost always on my guard, my finely attuned senses working overtime to ward off the inherent danger they pose, they sometimes slip past my carefully guarded perimeter and get me.

Such was the case as I gathered my bags of recyclables, garbage, and cat poop. There seemed to be little danger in this act and it would be a good thing to have accomplished and done for the day. The fact that I am a cheapskate thrifty, eco-conscious individual enters at this point. I have almost never purchased garbage bags. Why would one buy something with only the intent of throwing it away? I re-use grocery bags as garbage bags. Granted, they are somewhat smaller and not the most attractive waste containers available, but for the most part, they serve the purpose well. I also fill Pepsi cartons with any paper to be recycled. The point of all this explanation is that I end up carrying multiple small bags to the garbage receptacles rather than one or two, and that this is slightly more difficult to do. I managed to get the majority of the bags, boxes, and contents to the proper receptacles, only losing a can or two along the way. That was easy enough to correct.

OK. We now have Doc at the scene of the great dumpster incident of the week. There is one further element that needs to be known before this tale will make sense (this statement presumes that I ever make much sense, a possibly unjustified assumption on my part.) I am very nearsighted and the eyeglasses I got about two years ago have gone through a slow but steady process of falling apart. First the nose pads disintegrated and were replaced free by the unnamed eyeglass emporium. Last year I was called by them to come in for my annual eye exam, which I did and to which I took the taped together pieces of their deluxe frames. They repaired the right earpiece, which had simply fallen apart at the hinge, with a vaguely matching piece from the scrap bin. It worked, but I was informed that I was not eligible for insurance benefits for frames or lenses until this summer. OK, the sides didn't match, but they worked. Since that time, the left side earpiece broke in exactly the same place and manner in which the right one had previously done. My thought was that I could wait a month or so, while looking a bit foolish and nerdy, with the left earpiece simply taped together. This worked to a less desirable degree than had the previous repair. They are looser and have to be bent back into shape multiple times per day. I let this go as I was awaiting an appointment with my ophthalmologic surgeon and felt it would be foolish to replace glasses which I would only have to re-replace in a month or so.

For some reason, unknown to me, I feel compelled to look into the dumpster to be certain that the recycling bags had landed in the general area toward which I had tossed them. Large error in judgment there (or lack thereof.) As I did this, the aforementioned loose, taped together, spectacles followed the bags into the dumpster. As I contemplated this development I realized that the dumpster was too tall to simply step or reach into; that I couldn't see the very object that I needed to see to retrieve; and that there was absolutely no way to accomplish this without appearing to be as odd as I actually am to the neighbors. The lowest point close to the search area was about 4.5 feet tall and I ended up (pun intended) bent over the side, feeling around for any item that might be eyeglasses. The good news was that I found them in fairly short order. The bad news was that the cracking noise I heard near my left shirt pocket, as I exited the green monster, was not the plastic pen that I had briefly hoped it might be. It was some portion of my anatomy, presumably a rib, making the sound. This guess was quickly confirmed as I engaged in one more foolish action. I breathed.

Anyway, the rib thing seems to be healing as long as I don't do anything to anger the offended skeletal member – like sneezing, coughing, or hiccupping. The green beast needs to be taught a lesson, however, and I am contemplating something appropriately vengeful. Three bags of cat poop just doesn't seem like enough.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“Sometimes accidents happen in life from which we have need of a little madness to extricate ourselves successfully” - François de la Rochefoucauld

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Anniversaries

Anniversaries

Celebrate the past

Recall a better season

Gone without reason

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

Thank you, Dr. Lindsay Bates. Your works are good.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Global Sound Healing Event Is Today

Talking about: Today's Global Sound Healing Event

as originally posted by Annie B. Bond on the Care2 community website.

"This Is A Four Directions Call

Date: Sept. 21. The International Day of Peace ; and the Fall Equinox.

Where: Online at the Temple of Sacred Sound, designed by world sound healer Jonathan Goldman, or wherever you are.

When: Noon New York City time (12 PM EDT).

Who: Any and all.

How: One minute of silence at noon to honor the International Day of Peace’s moment of silence. At 12:01 p.m. we will start the toning, until 12:05 or longer if you want.

What: We’ll sound the “AH”–the universal sound of love and appreciation–or “MA,” the sound of Mother Earth–in order to assist the creation of peace and healing to the planet.

Our intentions–our feelings, visualizations and beliefs–are encoded upon the sounds we make. Sound has the power to focus and amplify our thoughts, prayers and meditations. When we project the energy of love and appreciation while sounding the “AH” on Sept. 21, we will be able to shift and raise consciousness and awareness on a global scale. Jonathan Goldman

Sound Your Support: Sign in, sign on, join with your support, and share links!

Highlights
*Track the raising of the consciousness of the people on the planet via Princeton’s Consciousness Project.

*Honor the direction of the West before toning, with Betsy Stang’s blog.

*Sign up for Deepak Chopra’s discussion of sound and mantra the week prior in Soular Energy Daily newsletter.

*Share and discuss, find ways to help, in Care2’s Peace and Healing group.

*Read the blogs about sound healing by Deepak, Jonathan Goldman, and more, in Care2’s Global Healing/Spirituality channel.

* There will be a special Internet radio broadcast;taking place at 11 AM NY Time (11 AM EDT) one hour before the Global Sound Healing Event with Jonathan Goldman and guests.

A Four Directions Call

This is a call to all people of spirit who wish to join in a global linkage for Peace as noon rolls across the planet on the vernal Equinox. We request that you add to your observances a minute of chanting the sound of “MA” in appreciation for the Earth, her gifts and all her children.

In all traditions, “MA” is the root sound for mother, “AH” is the sound of appreciation.

The goal is to help create a wave of healing resonance that will sweep across the planet. It is a time of great peril and trauma on this fragile world. Can we, for a moment, come together with one heart, one mind, one voice and one intention in a tone of healing?

Please in whatever tradition you are gathering for this event, will you commit to a moment of global unity for all our relations.
Betsy Stang"

I don't generally use large portions of other authors' works, and then not without attribution. I feel relatively safe from having any of my own words used in the order in which I wrote them. Who would want them? In this case, I didn't feel that I could express the ideas contained in this article any better than was already done. Beyond that, if you follow the initial title link to the Care2 site, you will find many areas of interest which you might want to read or even become actively involved with. I have been a member for about three years now, and have had the satisfaction of expressing my opinions to politicians, heads of corporations and agencies, signing petitions, and generally making my opinion noticed. I don't agree with all of their causes and I'm sure they would not agree with all of mine. That doesn't matter. Choose what you believe and support it. Remember to Pay it Forward.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we have borrowed it from our children.” - Chief Seattle

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Assassin Synapse

Deep sulcus cover

Covert ops within the brain

Trigger memories

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time". ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Doc's Big Day Out

The big day finally arrived last Thursday. I got out of the apartment for more than half a day at a time. This day had been awaited with much anticipation and no small amount of trepidation for over three months. It had been carefully prepared for by getting my grocery shopping done earlier in the week and a careful cost estimation such that I should not exceed my budget too badly.

The day was so special that I even luxuriated in a full bath, rather than the shower which I almost always take. This unnerved Bittle and Stinky. They are used to hearing water spraying for a few moments and then staying out of my way while I try to dry myself, remain upright, and see without my glasses all at the same time. On this occasion, however, I simply submerged and temporarily disappeared. When I again surfaced, there were four concerned eyes looking over the edge of the tub, presumably relieved that I had reappeared and the cat food supply would would not be interrupted. They did continue to circle the general area, however, until I resumed what they considered normal behavior; cursing while shaving the area of my neck under my beard.

I donned my best pair of Levi's, a tattersall shirt, my Frye high top boots and then began the pre-flight checklist. Wallet? Check. Belt? Check. Pants zipped? Check. Teeth? (Yes, I have forgotten them.) Check. Cell phone? Check. Car keys? Check. Reassure The Boys that I'll be back? Check. Ready for launch. Out the door and off I go to arrive at my destination at the prearranged time. What on earth would prompt such actions and preparation by Doc, you may ask. I had to get my front brakes fixed. The wear indicators had been making an increasing, intermittent scraping noise which intensified with wheel speed and of which I did not approve.

Not so interesting, huh? Well, it interested me! I had never owned a front wheel drive vehicle before this Cavalier and had little idea how costly a noise this might prove to be. At the repair check-in desk I described the symptoms, complete with hand waving, pointing, and sound effects. The repair manager seemed unimpressed. I further explained the nature of the noise and how I thought I probably had a bent brake rotor or broken caliper assembly. He said, "Uh huh. Do you want anything else checked"? The check engine light is on. "OK. We'll take care of it. Are you going to wait for it?" Yeah, unless it's going to be here over the weekend. An altogether too blasé attitude as far as I was concerned.

I went to set up a semi-permanent encampment in the waiting area. I had brought a large Pepsi and a software manual to fill the tedious hours. I may be a slow reader, but I was quite surprised when the proposed repairs and estimated costs were brought for my approval by page 18. I maintained my usual level of suspiciousness, but after reading the materials, readily agreed to the proposal. I signed, he left, and I went back to reading. By the time I got to page 37, he was back with the final bill. The problems had been repaired and the car had been test driven. What can I say? There were several screenshots I had to study in detail and I was distracted rather badly by the back two feet of a beautiful new yellow Corvette which I could see from my seat. I had staunchly resisted the temptation to wander into the showroom and drool on it.

An amazing experience then occurred. Replacement of the rotors (which were delaminating), pads, a repair of the throttle body, and the replacement of an inline fuel filter and gas cap had been been accomplished for a little over 1/3 the amount I had prepared myself for in advance. Even though my questions about senior discounts or any from various auto club and other organizations were to no avail, I remained a happy ex-camper as I escaped the waiting room. As I accessed the roadway and immediately exceeded the speed suggestions repeatedly as I tested the brakes, I remained very pleased. No screeching noises were heard, no check engine light seen, and from what I could tell, throttle performance was improved. I was so overcome with delight that I went on a spontaneous shopping spree at a local surplus store where I bought eight unique paper clips, 20 button batteries, and a cheap one-meter measuring tape. There was no stopping me.

When I returned to the apartment complex, checked my mail, and entered my dwelling, I was greeted enthusiastically by Bittle and Stinky. They looked at each other in a "He's back" sort of way.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz," ~ Janis Joplin.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Brief Neurophychological Exam

Look into his eyes

Is he in there? I can't tell.

Anybody home?

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"Consciousness is that annoying time between naps." - Unattributed

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

RFID in Credit Cards

I believe that we are hearing and seeing enough about hacking and information theft from so many sources that I cannot succeed in conveying anything useful unless I limit my posts to small bits of the whole that are most likely to have an effect on the average person. Today that topic will be the addition of the "convenience" of having a RFID microchip embedded in their credit card.

When one of my credit card companies sent me a shiny new card out of sequence (that is, my old one was two years away from expiring) I did what I usually do in such situations. I became suspicious. Why did they do this? I doubted that it was for my benefit or totally in my best interest. OK, what was different? There was a new word printed on the back and the note that I could now just wave my card near a store's card reader rather than sliding it through the reader itself. How does this help me, I asked myself? As far as I could tell, it didn't help at all. Who did it help, then? Must be "them". Credit card companies use many safeguards including predictive analytics, identity theft countermeasures, data mining, encryption, and others to protect themselves (as well as the consumer) from theft or loss of data. I looked at the card extremely closely and discovered a very slightly thicker square located above and between the word blink and the radio wave icon. The photo is of the upper right quadrant of the card, below the magnetic strip. If you can't see it in the picture below, try looking at your monitor screen at an angle so that the shadows make it clearer.

This is not a great macro photo of the chip, but if you see it, it serves its purpose.

So why is he at it again about this privacy craziness? Because the the magnetic strip on a presently "normal" credit card is coded and cannot be read at a distance. The information can be stolen in a number of other ways, but not read at a distance.

Now I want to scare you. RFID hacking is not new (See this 2003 article from Wired) and is rather simple as this procedure, the Mifare Hack, as demonstrated by Engadget, left many cities' public transportation systems and other RFID users in peril. Here is a Creative Commons interview via Boing Boing showing the basics of remote RFID hacking (be sure to read the comments.) An excellent but easily read article RFID Credit Cards and Theft: Tech Clinic was published in 2007 by Popular Mechanics. Presently, RFID experimentation kits are being sold as toys at Think Geek for just under $100 (USD) while companies such as DIFRwear offer radio shielded wallets and passport cases for sale. If you read only one of these links, I would suggest this one as being the most general and inclusive of the good and bad uses of RFID.

If you will excuse me now, I think I'm done for a while. I must go line my wallet with copper screening to function as a Faraday Cage and make little tinfoil hats for my credit cards.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"The world of RFID is like the Internet in its early stages. Nobody thought about building security features into the Internet in advance, and now we're paying for it in viruses and other attacks. We're likely to see the same thing with RFIDs." - Ari Juels, research manager at the high tech security firm RSA Labs.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bell Curve

IQ seven two

Just enough to understand

Fitting in’s not yours


IQ one three nine

Not quite ready for prime time

Asks what might have been

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Inconsiderately Alive

I have been thinking about this notion of getting older. Is it "growing older," wherein the key word is growing? Or is the operative word simply older? Am I an asset to society or am I just setting on my … umm … rear end? I'm afraid that by simply asking myself the question, I am also telling myself the answer. I shall therefore immediately contribute to society by publishing a haiku about not contributing to society.

Inconsiderately Alive

Societal drain

My existence costs you cash

The dues have been paid

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top." - Will Rogers

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Most Annoying Dreams

Those who easily become bored with a shrink’s self-analysis or might possibly be disturbed by a bit of the same may be excused now and leave without loss of honor.

“To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub.” In the past few weeks I have come to understand this famous line differently than I believe that The Bard initially intended it to be interpreted. I earlier saw these words as “only” a contemplation of suicidal death, the possibility of an afterlife in which one is conscious, and the ramifications thereof.

Recently, however, I have been considering another, somewhat more concrete and less final interpretation of that question. I cannot be certain that Shakespeare did not have this meaning in mind as well when he penned his famous lines. The depth and breadth of his knowledge and his ability to communicate it in multifaceted ways continue to fascinate me. I doubt that he was addressing my current distress, although he may have also been exploring the subject of disturbed sleep in addition to suicide in his speculation. He certainly did so elsewhere with Lady Macbeth.

Dreams have intrigued me since I was a teen. My understanding matured somewhat as I studied them from various psychological and neuropsychological viewpoints, and I have come to recognize many idiosyncratic elements, symbols, and themes in my own dreams. I virtually always recall my dreams as I wake from them, and if I jot down a note about them, am able to recall them later. When I start to analyze them, I am usually able to find what aspect of myself they relate to, what problem or joy initiated them, what wish they fulfill, or even what I am panicking about in my sleep.

My dreams do not literally guide my life. They most certainly do, however, often reveal to me connections between or among thoughts, acts, plans, concerns, and events of my past, present, and future. (There were eight commas in that sentence. That’s probably too many.) I have almost always been able to relate some part of the dream to waking life and understand at least a small bit more about myself in the process. I certainly do not like some of the things that I discover about myself, but they are most often real bits of information which I need to understand. At times the RNA-DNA transfer process awakens a previously safely buried repression and some unpleasantness results. Sometimes my deepest fears get a poke in the ribs and a panic dream results. Despite my self-taught ability to subdue the feelings released by such dreams immediately upon waking, there are moments of terror which may seem much longer in the dream than they are in real time. Still, upon waking I can turn off the switch.

Recently, my dreams have been worse than usual. How do they get worse than a dream within a dream in which one believes that they are dying and “wakes up” into another dream to find that it is true and tastes the blood in one’s throat? (That one was 45 years ago and I still remember it.) They get worse when seemingly every incident in the dream which is intended to go right does not, the dreamer knows that it will somehow go awry but proceeds anyway, and the dream then morphs into a situation where one is dealing with people in the opposite manner one would choose in waking life. I recognize that this is cryptic to anyone reading this rather than having dreamed or lived it themselves. Examples are my Nolan family driving to the boonies to rescue me, my scraping the side of their new car on a metal highway railing, and then going into a rage when they suggested that I should calm down (I cannot recall ever raising my voice in that manner to them.) Another dream was about flying another person’s expensive RC Cross Country sailplane and crashing it after not wishing to fly it in the first place (I always refused to fly others’ models) and watching them mutely walk away without accepting any apology, payment, or offer to replace it – only emanating disgust with me. A final example was this morning’s episode of the continuing series of the bizarre. I’ll pick up at a point where I was lost and dreaming of standing at the crossing of two dirt paths in a forested wilderness, not knowing what was down three of them but knowing that my Ex was on the known one which I had traveled to reach that point. Despite my distaste for that path, I took it and events spiraled hell-ward more than expected. She and a particularly irritating fundamentalist preacher she had “befriended” not only refused the help I needed, but essentially mocked me for needing it and left without getting medication I believed I needed to prevent a seizure. I surmise that I did not actually scream as I thought I did, because Bittle remained asleep less than two feet from my head when this dream awoke me.

I would be somewhat less than insightful, bordering upon stupid, if I didn’t recognize several obvious and disturbing issues in what little I have written. The dreams are much more detailed and include vivid related imagery and feelings as they occur. Additionally, they do not seem to employ my usual symbol sets or themes. Finally, everyone in the dreams is dead, fictional, or “dead to me.” Several other dreams similar to these have occurred recently and I even believed I might be having a heart attack a few moments after awakening from one. (A tingling feeling in my arms led to that belief as it was originally closely associated to my first panic attack, which at the time I believed to be a heart attack.) Quite likely I was hyperventilating during the dream.

Why are these dreams so frightening to me? They are different than my average nightmare, especially regarding imagery and subject matter. They occur after sufficient sleep and as I am due to wake. They do not “feel” related to occurrences of the day or my major waking concerns. I thought I knew myself fairly well (whether I liked me or not) but these dreams have me questioning that. They almost seem to be imposed from outside rather than being initiated internally. I clearly recognize myself as me in every one and feel that it is me “behaving” in the dreams (as far as I can recall, I have always dreamed in the first person, not as someone watching me or as if I were someone else.) The singularly different aspect is that I have little or no idea why these subjects, these people, or these situations occur now. I shall have to dig a bit deeper, I suppose. Perhaps I am trying to get my own attention by scaring the bejesus out of myself. It certainly would be nice to have a satisfying, wish-fulfillment dream again but they're gone.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end." – Stephen Hawking

*

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May Is Older Americans Month

Harrumph! I guess that all one has to do to qualify for this particular honor is get old. I can do that. I have done that. You've heard the expression, "Wise beyond his years" I assume? That would be a compliment paid to a younger person who displays knowledge, judgment, or common sense usually not attained by a person of such tender years. When I was younger, I took this to be a reasonable and desirable manner of viewing the phenomenon. As I have personally become "beyond my years," I'm not at all certain that I approve of it. At times this concept seems to be holding me to a standard that does not coincide well with the actual aging process.

I shall offer a few examples that would seem to refute this expectation of "Older Americans." You knew I would. Don't pretend otherwise.

  • For fairly obvious reasons there is no equivalent visual statement; "his visual acuity is beyond his years?" I think not! That would imply a group of young, nearsighted, bi- or tri-focal wearing persons who trip over their cats or worse. This is not complimentary. At best it might mean that the young person's cataracts are developing more slowly than anticipated.
  • Nor is there a similar compliment for the sense of smell. Olfactory sensitivity is the quickest adapting of the senses. I have seen it written that "old people smell bad," (not badly.) I do not believe this refers to my ability to perceive scents so much as my ability to produce them. I would not be referred to as an old fart were this the case. This may be a blessing in disguise, however, as I may become flatulent at will and can not notice the odor produced by two large male cats, which has been reported to me to be strong enough to overwhelm an unsuspecting visitor.
  • He can hear beyond his years? No. No compliment there. Cumulative hearing damage and tinnitus from early exposure to eardrum shattering rock music, race engine exhaust collector dumps, and gunfire pretty well negated that. There is an inadvertent exception to this observation, however. I can now listen to Pink Floyd, Eagles, or Beach Boys music as loudly as I wish in the Audio-Technica headphones without much concern about inflicting further damage to myself.
  • Can he taste beyond his years? That would largely depend upon whether or not he has his dentures in, would it not? That would imply a choice between enjoying the taste of food at a social occasion but appearing oblivious to the social graces or submitting to what is expected and eating cardboard "in good taste."
  • Is he able to feel better than he could in his youth? "Aye, there's the rub." I believe that my sense of touch remains approximately the same as it was but there appears to have been a dramatic reduction in the number of willing recipients of that touch as there once were. If we refer to "feel" in terms of emotion rather than sensory ability, the answer is a qualified yes. Rather than the "Sturm und Drang" emotional storms of youth, the feeling of the unpartnered aged male is much more likely to be stable but negative and alone.

Having complained this much one might think I was finished. One would be wrong. I just learned that May is Older American Month. I missed out on a full two-thirds of my allotted complaining time! The alternative, that I knew earlier but forgot, is unacceptable. Adding further indignity to the newsletter were articles such as Fun Facts About the Senior Population and 10 Ways Communities Can Prepare for the Aging Population Boom. At the risk of repeating myself, Harrumph!

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it." - Mark Twain

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

When Keyboards Attack

I am not certain why keyboards do not like me. I am not even sure why my keyboards do not like each other. One thing which I am quite positive about, however, is that I have far more problems with them than can be accounted for by chance. As I write this post, it is being done on a Dell Vostro 2510 which I bought, in part, because it is a business model laptop and this led me to believe that it might be built in a sturdier fashion than the models advertised for the general consumer market. This does not appear to be the case. Apparently, if I can touch it, I am likelier than most to break it.

This upsets me dreadfully. I have long considered myself to be a person who takes good care of tools, electronics, vehicles, and even furniture. I clean and lubricate tools as necessary when I am finished using them. I dust and surface clean, as well as surge and UPS protect my electronic devices. I use furniture oil to treat the surfaces of the wood furniture I own. I have my vehicle regularly serviced and seldom exceed the speed suggestions by more than 40 mph any longer. I just finished modifying a cheap surplus transformer to work with the older, but still quite satisfactory, Koss amplified speakers for use with my PC. They work perfectly. Keyboards, on the other hand, appear to harbor a deep seated hatred for me. This relationship is approaching one of reciprocity. Perhaps there is a Secret Order of Boardhood (SOB) which I have offended and become a sworn enemy without warning and for no discernable reason.

Over the past twelve months I have been victimized by keyboards on no less than five occasions. Before this period, the "forward" key cap in the lower right corner of a HP laptop caught on a shirt sleeve and was lost. Oh well, no big deal. The curse seems to have begun when the "t" key cap fell off the same laptop. Not oh well. I definitely had more use for t's than forwards. After far too long a search, I found a replacement keyboard for the exact make and model, bought it, replaced it, and all was well for several days until the entire computer quit. I learned something. Almost all of two entire series of that line of computer use the same keyboard, regardless of their part number. I do have a very lightly used keyboard and an unused double-life battery for HP Pavilion 5000 series laptops lying around, however, should anyone find themselves in need of such parts.

I began to become more suspicious of a possible keyboard conspiracy when the quad core, 64-bit refurb arrived with what appeared to be a totally unused PC, a wireless mouse which was worn but worked, and a wireless keyboard which refused to respond to anything I tried, including a thorough trouncing. Possibly I should have been more understanding when I saw that the alkaline batteries included in it were guaranteed good through 2001. What the hell, three keyboards down. I bought a Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse on sale and they work fine on the PC. A little short on range, but OK. I did not yet know about Keyboard Jealousy Syndrome.

Very shortly after putting the Vostro "hot-rod-candy-apple-red-color" laptop into service, the "Microsoft" key cap fell off. I don't believe I did anything to encourage that. I can't even recall ever intentionally pressing it. Perhaps that was the problem. You may recall from past posts that I did not know where that key cap had gone and that theft by cat was my primary working hypothesis. I learned another something. Key caps may be interchangeable between manufacturers. This one was compatible with the deceased donor board's Microsoft cap. I snapped the used cap into position and it again worked as intended. It bothered my aesthetic sensibilities, however, because it was printed in a different style than all the other keys and thus drew my attention, in a negative way, whenever I used the laptop. When I found that the original cap had not been captured by a cat, but rather had simply been lost in the abundant clutter surrounding The Chair, I swapped them and all was well once again.

This state of affairs lasted nearly three weeks. Then an event occurred which taught me two things. The first was that inanimate electro-mechanical devices appear able to harbor a dislike or jealousy to the extent that a physical assault results. At this point I wish to make a non-legally binding, nor even necessarily truthful statement to the effect that I did not drop the wireless board onto the laptop's board. Believe what you will, but the laptop was suddenly left with non-functional "y" "h" and "j" keys. I examined, twisted, palpated, snapped, and used bad words, all to no avail. I then did what had to be done in a first responder, triage sort of situation like this. I used duct tape. Clearly, or rather very unclearly, this was not a good solution for me. I couldn't see the letters on the keys.

It is well known in the psychology and learning theory community that new learning is most likely to occur in a "crisis" or in a situation in which previously learned behavior no longer works. Otherwise stated, this may be known as "Necessity is the mother of invention." My great (really, for me at least) discovery was that the tiny, itty-bitty, fragile, scissor action, plastic parts that snap onto and support the key caps while allowing the rubberized contact to make or break the circuit are interchangeable ! What wonders a jeweler's screwdriver and a bit of close-up squinting can reveal! After replacing three of these little doo-dads with their equivalents from the cadaver board, I am once again pacified even though the j key is turned almost one whole degree clockwise.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"They say one of a baby's first non-verbal forms communication is pointing. Clicking must be somewhere just after that." – Author Unknown


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seeking Spiritual Enlightenment

The Way

Path dark and narrow

Bordered closely by cow crap

Direction one way

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another Electronic Medical Record (EMR/EHR) Data Hack

I have harped on the topics of the potentially disastrous consequences of data loss or theft from medical health database repositories for some time now. I have personally been the victim of such a data loss by the Veteran's Health Administration, which lost all my provider information, financial account and license numbers, social security and business banking numbers, addresses, and all the other personal information to make identity theft a breeze.

Nothing awful happened as a result of this loss. I was given a year's free three bureau credit monitoring subscription by the VHA. It is my personal belief that one of their less experienced employees or interns had simply carried the information for a service provider demographic study offsite on a thumb drive to work on it at home and lost it. Since that time I was again given a free year of credit monitoring when a bank lost a wee bit of data about its customers (around 3 million, as I recall.) I've reported concerns about the National Health Database activity here and elsewhere on other occasions, stating the obvious qualification I would have to make to clients, were I still in active practice and following the privacy and confidentiality rules set forth by the HIPAA act. "I promise that I will keep your health information private and confidential, but there are about 173 other people and agencies out there that may have access to it that I can't vouch for."

A nascent occurrence of that dark vision of the future was announced very recently by many Internet and Traditional Media sources. The web site Office of Inadequate Security (databreaches.net) along with many other sources (I heard just enough of a sentence on CNN to immediately send me into search mode) reported a major health data theft from the Virginia Department of Health Professions. An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 1 May 2009 reported that "Hackers may have gotten to Virginia health professions computers."

It was a little more serious than "may have" if the hacker's ransom demand, reproduced below, is to be believed:

"Thomas Claburn of InformationWeek reports:

An extortion demand posted on WikiLeaks seeks $10 million to return over 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions allegedly stolen from Virginia Department of Health Professions.

The note reads: ATTENTION VIRGINIA I have your sh**! In *my* possession, right now, are 8,257,378 patient records and a total of 35,548,087 prescriptions. Also, I made an encrypted backup and deleted the original. Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too. Uhoh :(

Read more on InformationWeek."

At this point, I will simply leave this example for your contemplation. Consider exactly what identifying information would have been required to be on these records in order for them to be of use to legitimate health care professionals, insurance carriers, Federal and State agencies, pharmacies, data processing centers, and others (including you) who have legitimate access to them. What would be the many possible negative consequences of having these records in the hands of those who do not have our best interests in mind.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"Like sex in Victorian England, the reality of Big Business today is our big dirty secret." - Ralph Nader

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I Was Lost But Now Am I Found?

Lost

An elder now sits

Thinking of past choices made

Questioning many


Opportunities

Unrecoverable now

Haunt his existence


Joys and depths recalled

Youth and vitality gone

Contemplates future

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Apartment Inspection - Part II.V

Inspection day at the apartment complex came around again last Friday. It is really more of a regular maintenance routine, but there is usually a suspicious looking assistant manager who accompanies the crew to make certain that I am not running an unapproved meth lab or have not burned down the kitchen without notifying the office in advance. I was fine with the first inspection here because I knew the manager loved cats and I handed her one while the others replaced filters, changed batteries, checked the fire extinguisher, and did the other necessary things.

I got a notice six months ago that I was due for an inspection, but none ever happened. I was therefore not terribly surprised when I got the current notice to see that a single word had been added for this (yearly) inspection. I had cleaned and decluttered a significant amount for the one that didn't happen, so I thought that a good vacuuming, some further decluttering, and closing the door to one room would probably be sufficient. I was not entirely correct. More clutter than I realized had somehow sneaked its way back into the living room and the the kitty cats had blown far more coat than I had kept up with cleaning. I comb it out of their coats as much as they will allow, but cat fur on the carpet is one of those things that I tend not to notice, day to day, as it accumulates in small increments. It is similar in nature to not realizing how much rust grew on the pickup truck over an 18 year period before deciding to trade it in (I donated it to charity instead, and assume that it was flattened and recycled.)

It came as something of a disappointment to find that the vacuum cleaner had closed down some of its services without notice, presumably in an attempt to remain green and be certain that I was getting enough exercise. When I finally got down to what I could use, I found that I had a choice between the crevice tool and an attachment that looks like it might be made to suck change out of a sofa. This left me cleaning every visible carpet and rug in the apartment with an automotive whisk broom made of straw and a dustpan! It really is amazing how much fur can be brushed from even the shortest napped carpet with a stiff brush. I am not permanently damaged (I don't think) but there are six discs in my cervical and lumbo-sacral areas that are less than pleased with me.

I have to say that it does look much better here, especially after taking two huge (small table sized) boxes of clutter to the garbage dumpster or to be recycled. I know that the vacuum sucks powerfully, but I'm going to have to take it apart, clean every piece of it, oil the parts that are supposed to be slithery, and clean or replace the HEPA filter. I am considering a modification of the rotating brush. Possibly cutting off bristles close to anything that is supposed to twist or turn might work. I just didn't have the time (starting as late as I did) to order the parts I needed. The memory of pain fades fairly quickly, so what I also should have done is get a few pictures of myself rolling around on the floor, howling, and holding my back. If I taped one of those to the vacuum, it would serve as a frequent reminder that I really don't want to do this again.

When the team arrived, the apartment looked passable, but I made a concerted effort to keep their attention directed toward what I thought was wrong rather than allow them to come up with anything on their own. "That CO detector needs to be repaired or replaced. It eats a battery in about two days and a green light blinks saying it needs attention." "The refrigerator still isn't working correctly. The freezer only cools to about 30 to 32 degrees." "That drain clogs occasionally when I have done nothing to clog it. It must have a restriction somewhere farther down line." I guess it worked. I'm still here and have not been served with an eviction notice. I doubt that is very likely at this point, anyway. When I moved in, there were no more units available. Now, the parking lot has fewer cars in it and there is a $50 bounty for any resident that recruits a new renter. Then again I may just be trying to convince myself that there is a good side to the economy tanking.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Vote for ME!!

For what? I don't know. Anything you can think of, I suppose. I'm not running for anything. I haven't been nominated for anything. I don't think that anyone is about run an election or contest that would include me, or even anything for which I would be an appropriate candidate. The only office I can recall ever winning was as a double write-in (both the title of the office and myself as an unknowing candidate) was sophomore class dog catcher at the undergraduate school which I finally escaped. This would seem to be as accurate an example of sophomoric behavior as any.

To digress for a moment; this act was perpetrated by the the same "friends" who left a cat in a drawer of my desk when I went home for a weekend and who paid my demand for 30 pieces of silver to accept the strangest student in the class as a roommate so no one else would have to. It is also closely tied to my dislike of the school itself, which during the graduation ceremony gave me a diploma cover which contained, rather than a diploma, a note stating that I owed the business office $32.00. For 41 years now, I have diligently kept that college up to date with my current address in the hope that I will eventually cost them more in printing fees and postage than I spent on my alleged-ucation there.

Back to voting for me, though. I have "won" a number of offices, titles, contests, and the like, but I don't recall ever having done so by a process that required campaigning or voting. If I have forgotten one, I maintain that I did not run for it intentionally. I was pushed.

I have now come to a point in my life that I want to win something. I want the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing that my constituency really wants me to have this. So I now ask, nay beg, for your vote. The only part I am unclear on is what I wish to be running for. I shall, therefore, leave it to an enlightened electorate to decide exactly what it is for which I might best be suited (or do the least damage,) vote for me for that position, and then tell me in a comment what I was running for and if I won. I thank you in advance for your kind consideration and greatly appreciate your confidence in me.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.


"Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do." – Will Rogers

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Small Irritations And Stupid Stuff

Quite certainly we all have little things that bother us for no good reason. These would be the sorts of things that would result in a strange look from others if we were to give voice to the irritation in public. Especially if we sound like we really mean it and are not just being silly. I’ll set the stage for such a list of irritations by revealing a few of my own. I invite anyone who wishes to add to the list to do so.

It irrationally bothers me to receive a memo “from the desk of” someone. Desks don’t write letters. People do. I suppose there might be a blurring of lines where virtual keyboards are projected onto the surface of a desk, or a computer uses an auto responder to reply to emails, but a person was ultimately responsible for the content. Totally unimportant, but it will result in my pitching the missive into the paper recycling without reading it.
Computer operating or repair manuals which are published by the manufacturer online. Your computer just stopped responding, but you have to use a computer to find the repair manual. Hmm.
I dislike really obvious warnings on products which, if you were to do them, you probably can’t read or should be removed from the gene pool anyway. I know these are a response to product liability suits, but really… My irritation about this type of warning began many years ago when a company which made tiny wooden propellers for model airplane engines went out of business after being sued because it did not provide a warning that their product might whack one on the finger as one flipped it to start the engine. I think we’re all fairly aware that we shouldn’t carry babies around in their packaging bags, that we shouldn’t be too surprised by paper cuts, that we shouldn’t eat packing peanuts, or even use our computers in the bathtub. I don’t know about that last one, if one uses a wireless remote keyboard and mouse.
There are some absolutely necessary ones, I suppose. One should never put AAA batteries in backwards and should take their child to a doctor should one become lodged in their ear or nose. I have been warned not to use noise cancelling headphones while riding a bicycle, especially at railroad crossings or ever to turn the sound too loud.
None should ever pull a plug from a wall socket by the wire, poke their computer monitor with a sharp or abrasive object, and if there are any unusual smells or sounds coming from that monitor, we should unplug it. My thought would be that pulling the plug from the socket would be permissible in this situation.
It appears that USB flash drives pose little danger to us (perhaps they forgot about the family pet or child eating it or getting it stuck in their nose or ear,) but we are never to use an optical instrument to look into the laser beam produced by our cordless mouse. And let’s not forget the most obvious warning for laptops; “Do not drop.”
On any electronic item, I dislike seeing the “Do not open. No user serviceable parts inside.” We’ll see about that, I say! Unfortunately sometimes they’re right.
This list was heavily weighted toward computers because those were the instruction pamphlets I had closest, but there many more categories. For years when I was a child, I believed that there might really be bed police who would get me if I tore off a “Do not remove under penalty of law” tag. Mail that looks much more important than it is has led me to nearly tear up two checks without ever opening the envelope, and the opposite is also true.

I feel better now. I’ll stop being cranky for a while.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“How to store your baby walker: First, remove baby.” - Anonymous Manufacturer

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coming To You Live (Writer) From Beautiful St. Charles

I seem to be back after an unintentional absence. Thank you to those who sent a private message or email for your concern. Despite the tone of some of my recent “poetry,” it was my laptop that was self-destructive, not me. At this point comes the decision between the long version or the short version. I’ll choose the short story for now, but don’t be surprised if there are further elaborations in future posts.

Nearly three weeks ago the laptop decided, for no apparent reason, not to boot up past a few of the drivers. I poked, tricked, and swore at everything I could think of, but none of my vast store of computer knowledge, foul language, or behavioral psychology produced a desirable result. A few days later the “Rent-a-Geek” I called did the same, but more thoroughly and knowledgeably. He said he had never seen one do that before, and I believed him because he was also talking about his quintuple boot computer (98SE, XP Pro, Vista, OS7, and Linux) as he ran the diagnostics. Alas, poor Leonard had to go back to “the shop.” I sent Max, his backup pal and sidekick, along to keep him company.

The older (30-something) and wiser owner of the business took over Leonard’s resuscitation and care. He promised to take Leonard out for walks over the weekend so he wouldn’t feel neglected (really – he said that.) After numerous phone calls and about two years later, he called back to tell me the operation had been a success. It really did seem like two years. From that and my withdrawal symptoms, I have concluded that internet addiction is quite real and that I don’t like it. When I received the good news, there was a brief moment of elation and wild celebration and then I did something stupid. This is a normal behavioral pattern for me. I asked if he would install a simple wired network when he returned the laptop. Of course he agreed, and of course I had not anticipated that that it would take another year for the router and cables to be delivered to him. The good news is that I now have a working network. When the network was in, and Leonard was once again in touch with his server and computer buds, I wrote a check for a considerable sum of money and forgot to use my $25 coupon. I was happy anyway. It was only when I found that I could not turn Leonard off that I again became concerned. We’ll leave that topic relatively unexplained other than to state that I have found a distinctly unusual way of shutting the laptop off, involving tricking the Roxio burner suite into believing that I want to use it and then shutting down.

During the haze of the withdrawal period, I became so desperate for an internet fix that I did the unthinkable. I installed Vista on the project computer before it was ready to have the XP Pro installed on another partition or drive. For a refurbished PC, it looked totally unused internally and externally. I installed another 4GB of heat sink finned RAM into the appropriate slots and turned the beast on. It lit up, whirred, and the DVD tray would operate. That’s all. Just the electromechanical stuff. The OS refused to even consider installing itself. After due consideration, I decided to undo my improvements, and re-installed the original RAM. This resulted in a success experience, if one considers the installation of Vista on a perfectly good PC a success. I now have the two computers networked and operating, even though Leonard remains a bit eccentric.

I continue to hate Vista, but will list only three reasons that irked me the most during my initial skirmishes with it. 1.) It questions everything I want it to do to the point that I forget what it was that I wanted it to do. 2.) It works funny. 3.) It cheats at solitaire and doesn’t even reward you with the traditional bouncing cards when you win, but asks which of three actions you would like to take while humiliating you with the statistics of your past wins and losses.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry." - Joe Moore

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

EHR, National Health Database, Confidentiality, and More

It has been quite some time since I have made an entry to this blog. My only excuse is that I have been writing and ranting elsewhere and neglecting my self-imposed responsibilities here. I have several concerns with such things as the EHR and its apparent imposition upon us by "bigger" business, the creation of a national health database, the security of anything posted to or transmitted on the web, conflicts between "national security" and net neutrality, and more. I have collected information on these topics, but never quite gotten around to compiling it into coherent posts. In all liklihood these subjects, though interrelated, will be dealt with separately or will intertwine without full explanation as a series of posts.

Until I am able to begin this series, I will leave you with a poem written by a humanistic psychologist. I ran across it in the Psychotherapy.net News newsletter. While you're there, sign up for their free monthly e-newsletter:

EMPIRICALLY VALIDATED PSYCHOTHERAPY
(A POEM)

What works in psychotherapy?
That's far beyond the likes of me.
I've only practiced fifty years,
and still am plagued by doubts and fears.
I muddle on and try my best
to aid my clients in their quest
for ways of being more alive,
somehow in spite of all to thrive.
I wish I knew the right technique
to give them more of what they seek.
The mystery of change persists


unsolved by dogged scientists.
I hope that they will soon impart
quick ways to heal a broken heart.
My efforts stagger, balk, and lurch
unguided by precise research
to tell me how to ease life's pains,
and thus flawed intuition reigns.
Pray science soon will guarantee
sure cures for human misery,
but meanwhile I'll do what I can
without a validated plan.

- Tom Greening

http://www.psychotherapy.net/announcements/Dec08.html


Peace, Doc

Copyright (c) 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.


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Monday, November 24, 2008

Go Directly From XP To Microsoft 7. Continue Past Vista. Do Not Pay $200.

This seems to be the opinion of many tech authors recently. I will base this post on a single article which summarizes better in five paragraphs, than I could in several posts, that which we may expect:

“Microsoft: We’re Sorry, but We’ll Make it Up to You.”

This is the title of an article from an October 28, 2008 article in The Pit Blog section of PC Pitstop’s Tech Talk. This short article is a very relevant summary from what Microsoft Senior Vice President Steve Sinofsky had to say to attendees of the recent Microsoft Professional Developer Conference. Ms. Julie Larson-Green then presented the first public demonstration of the Microsoft 7 user interface.

When Mr. Sinofsky took the stage on Tuesday, he was “willing to confess some past sins with Vista.” The demonstration showed how Microsoft intends to change Windows 7 to fix the problems that exist in Vista, and indeed in earlier versions of Windows. “Even Microsoft can’t hide or ignore the cold reception that Vista has received.” I refer the reader to the original article, both for specifics and for the 322 responses to it.

From this article and several other sources, it appears that Microsoft 7 will have its public release late in 2009 or early 2010. A pre-beta version will be/has been given to the conference attendees mentioned above and a feature-complete public beta version is to be available early next year (2009.) The final product reportedly will be shipped “approximately three years after the general availability of Vista.” Meanwhile, full support of Windows XP continues. This article is only one of many I have seen recently. When you read it, be sure to note how little processor speed and RAM Microsoft 7 requires to run on a tiny netbook.

Shortly before I wrote this post, DaNiece, the notorious “al,” sent me the following MS error messages. Possibly she has some advance knowledge of Microsoft 7 and knows it will be bringing back the “blue screen of death.”

Error Messages You Don't Want to See

An error has occurred - Could be anything, really.
Three things are certain: Death, taxes, and lost data. Guess which has occurred?
Error: An unspecified error has occurred. Please correct the error to continue.
Having been erased, the document you were working on must now be retyped.
Erroneous error - Nothing is wrong.
The website you are looking for cannot be located, but doubtless others exist.
Access denied - Nah nah na na nah nah!
Out of memory - It happens to us all eventually.
Illegal error detected - You are not allowed to make this error.
Your computer has performed an illegal operation. The police have been informed.
Printer not ready. Could be a fatal error. Have you a pen handy?
Windows has detected that there is no keyboard present. Hit F1 to continue.
Yesterday it worked. Today it is not working. Windows is like that.
Windows loaded - System in danger.
Unable to exit Windows. Try the door.
Fatal system error: Press F13 to continue...
Windows has just crashed. You are looking at the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

Taken somewhat out of context: “But a flashy new interface is a red flag that this is a new bit of software to learn, and that triggers what the big boss here calls the “primal fear of software.” It’s one thing to get it installed and working; it’s another to actually grind through the process of learning to use it.” - Chris Bucholtz, Microsoft Dynamics, March 20, 2008

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Blu-ray Already Dead?

Several tech writers seem to believe that Sony’s Blu-ray disc technology and high definition movie recordings are on their way out before they got much of a foothold in the market. Although Sony had predicted a 50% market share by this year, their sales presently account for only about 5% of video discs sold. With up-converting DVD players selling at a much lower price and only a minimal difference in high definition quality, there is little incentive for the consumer to pay big bucks for a Blu-ray player or over $25.00 for a Blu-ray movie disc. The conclusion appears to be that “if Hollywood expects to be selling DVDs in five years, they need to make Blu-ray an affordable standard.” There is even some speculation that movies will no longer be recorded on discs, but on flash drives.

Rather than chance making nonsensical blunders or embarrassing myself with misinterpreted statistics, I will refer the reader to some very recent original articles and the discussions that go with them:

Blu-ray ix-nay?

Blu-ray is dead – heckuva job, Sony!

Pioneer ups Blu-ray discs to 16 layers, 400GB capacity.

SlySoft cracks Blu-ray BD+ encryption.

Techreport.com forum discussion.

Many people like Blu-ray and it is certainly their prerogative to purchase and use whatever equipment pleases them. I freely admit to a strong bias against Sony since two undisclosed rootkit implants on their DVDs seriously damaged the computers of people who even attempted to make an archival copy or record the DVD to their hard drive. This potential development only serves to reinforce my decision never to buy another Sony product (regardless of how good they are and how much I might want them.)

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” – Usually erroneously attributed to P. T. Barnum but much likelier stated by Mr. George Hull, a hoaxer and Barnum’s competitor.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Voting Early

Do you plan to vote early? I do. It has been said several times on the TV news that it indicates that you have already made a firm decision about your candidates and nothing much beyond this point is likely to change it. OK. I’ll buy that, as it definitely applies to me. As of yesterday morning, over 213,000 citizens of Kane County, IL, had cast early votes. Illinois voters may determine times, locations, and requirements for their counties here.

In 31 states, one does not have to be out of the country or have any reason other than wanting to vote early or absentee to do so. Google provides an interactive map that will lead you to the laws in your state by clicking on it. A measure of certainty is also added when voting early. What if you’re sick or injured on November 4th and can’t get to the polls? What if you live in an area where your transportation is not assured? What if you die? (Not that it would necessarily disqualify your vote in Chicago politics.) What if you just want to quit listening to “erratic,” “socialist,” “unqualified,” “moose murderer,” age and health issues, and all the other accusations and counter-accusations being thrown around for the next two weeks? Truly, I am absolutely sick of it, while smaller issues like, oh say the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, international relations, a chaotic financial crisis, environmental concerns, have seemingly been put on hold.

Following my early vote, I will again concentrate on tasks I urgently need to accomplish. I have discerned at least one of those tasks from the very recent experience of Bittle becoming frightened by “something,” (almost anything can do that) climbing my chest, and leaping over my right shoulder. His rear claws absolutely need trimming, and as a result of this experience I know that I will never, ever consider having a nipple ring installed. I will, possibly, try to return to a more socially acceptable diurnal cycle. It is also possible that I might throw away a few more objects from “the room that must be entered with great caution.” I may or may not go into survivalist mode, or maybe just more than I am already.

I have tried to avoid being particular partisan in advocating for early voting, but I will ask residents of Illinois to strongly consider a NO vote on the proposed call for a State of Illinois Constitutional Convention. Illinois residents have already received a mailing outlining the pros and cons of the vote (and a .pdf version is available) so I won’t go into detail, but it is my opinion that it is unnecessary at this time and has a strong potential of being quite destabilizing to the state in several sectors.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

“I have said there that when Europe gets a ruler lodged in her gullet, there is no help for it but a bloody revolution; here we go and get a great big, emetical ballot, and heave it up.
- Mark Twain - Interview Dec. 1889

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Recycle, Research, Refurbish, Rejoice!

Most of my readers know the extent to which I will go to recycle, when possible. Getting a carload of aluminum cans to a recycler was part of a previous post. I still recycle everything that will be accepted since moving into the apartment. I believe I have just been rewarded for being an environmentally conscientious old coot.

I have intermittently mentioned wanting a new PC, but finding that everything that I configured or found on special sale were well above my budget. I continued to search until I made my way into the land of the used and refurbished. I tend to do that sort of research for several months before making my impulse purchases. I saw many PC’s that “looked good” online, but I did not know the seller, in what condition the computer really was, and that gut feeling that whenever something that looks too good to be true, it generally is. I began to search more deeply into the offerings of companies I do trust and found some good offers on factory refurbished PC’s. I didn’t see anything quite close enough to what I wanted to be willing to part with actual money. I finally found that Tiger Direct advertised good refurbished deals, but concentrated on the ones that they believed would be the best sellers. That’s reasonable for any business advertising, and admittedly I wanted something a bit out of the mainstream. Then I discovered that I should be looking at the related deals in the sidebars. Different versions of the same basic model were there. Then I saw it.

In case the link to the ad is discontinued, it is a factory refurbished HP m8467c with an AMD 2.2 GHz, quad core Phenom processor with 5 GB of RAM, 640 GB hard drive (2 x 320 GB drives,) NVIDIA GeForce 8400HD, DVD+/-RW/RAM Dual Layer burner with Lightscribe, Wi-Fi LAN, a 15 in 1 media reader, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and 64 bit Vista Home Premium OS. I was pleased. Even the hard drive(s) would seem to lend themselves to dual booting the PC with my beloved XP Pro OS. I ordered it at about 3:15 a.m. Wednesday. My first credit card was refused (the company was protecting me) but a second one worked fine. It was processed at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday and arrived today, Thursday, at 1:57 p.m.

I have not yet “fired it up” as I want to make certain that I do all possible to make the dual-boot setup as easy as possible. I can see absolutely nothing that I have inspected to have anything whatever wrong with it. Not even a surface scratch. The only bit of data on the spec sheet that concerns me is that it has only a 300 watt power supply. It would only cost $40 or $50 to replace it with one double that wattage. Oh, did I mention this PC lists for $1,999.99 and I bought it for $649.99. I thought it would be a good idea to buy it while the dollar is still spendable.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2008, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

Woot! Woot!” – Doc

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JFK

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