Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Last Sunset of November 2011

Georgia Strait with Vancouver Island in the distance.

Some nights are better than others....

And since I just woke up a little while ago, and just recently re-confirmed that I do in fact still have a functioning bathroom which soon will need more 'poopy-paper' (remember when it was the paper that actually did the job, instead of falling apart and letting your finger do the walking?) I'm pleased to report that I did get some sleep earlier in the evening. That's because I was sitting here at the old computer, less than thrilled at the world scene, when I suddenly found myself waking up with my head on the keyboard and the imprint of some of those keys across my forehead, fading slowly. So I decided to stumble into bed. I sleep better when I'm really tired and lately for some reason I seem to do that best without a pillow. But that's a whole other musing and we won't go there just now....I turned on the computer, and here's what I see today...

A page celebrating the anniversary of Mark Twain's birthday. Who doesn't like Mark Twain? Even though he mostly used that 'handle' and his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he was probably the original 'Grumpy Old Man' and a hell of a wit to boot. We all have a favorite Mark Twain saying or quote, very likely, (or we should have!) and mine is this one: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

That tells us a lot, right there. It tells me that the process of learning isn't just something we do in schools or universities or churches or wherever; it's a lifelong process that ought to be and frequently is a joyous one which answers our questions, satisfies our curiosity, solves a problem, or just informs us about the world around us. And motivation is the big secret to it. We have to want to before we're going to be open to it.

This is where the internet proves its worth, because we're not forced to learn differential calculus when all we wanted to know was why it costs a million dollars per pound to land a payload on the surface of Mars, for example. We can simply ask it a question, and get an answer - or lots of them. And it works like a charm, as long as we don't get side-tracked onto one of those triple-X sites where some impossibly enhanced bimbo is trying to get her hand on our credit card. (Leggo my ah-er-um... shirt, Honey - I'm much too old for that!). Kids in school, or at least this kid when he was there, tend to resist the set curriculum because (A) we don't like being driven when we should be led, and (B) we don't learn well if we're not interested in the subject matter. Is that why I failed Latin three years running? You bet your sweet bippy! Fortunately, the internet only teaches me what I'm anxious to learn. And at 79, I'm still learning, because that's what life is all about, Kiddies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Attention Munchkins !

Not your average potato chip. In fact, not even close. These are made from a mixture of Taro, Yuca, Sweet Potato, Batata and Parsnips, and those with the bright red color are colored with beet juice.  These are really different and are a nice change from the usual suspects.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A little this and that....

A little of this is a very good thing, and remember, "With a name like Smucker's it has to be good!" - and it is. Very. It's also a very bright idea.

And a little of 'that' would be a piece in The Globe and Mail's automotive section today, by a couple of their self-appointed experts, giving us their flip one-liners on their choices of the top 50 vehicles for 2012.  I'm underwhelmed, Folks. Why? Because I can remember when every brand of automobile had its own distinctive and original styling which was instantly recognizable out on the open road from a distance of almost a mile away, and as a kid, I won bets proving that. After more than half a century of added learning and vast technological improvements, we now have a whole industry producing vehicles which all look like they were designed by the same couple of six-year-olds trying to copy their favorite toy cars from their Hot Wheels game. And that's just plain unforgivable. There's hardly an ounce of originality in any of it, and yet they want ten times as much for today's scrap iron as they did for the really original-looking stuff such as that beautiful 1957 Chevy we all lusted after back when. Shame on them all !! And that's my rant for today..... how do you like it so far?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A treat from California -

Fresh from California.
 These are a real treat up here 
in The Great White North,
near the end of November.
Now you'll have to excuse me,
while I finish off that bowl with
milk and sugar, and some fresh
Chunky Cheese Bread.....Mmmmm!!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is your Windows 7 getting sluggish on Startup?

Mine was, because I like to load it up with all sorts of programs that will automatically start during the initial Startup sequence - and therein lies the problem, as they say.

So here's what to do about that, step by step:-

(1) Click "Start" on your desktop, and in the little "Search" window just above that Start button, type in the word Troubleshoot.

(2) From the list which appears, choose and click on "Review your computer's status and resolve issues."

(3) In the next window which appears, assuming you don't see any specific problems reported by Action Center, click on the selection shown in the lower left of the window, titled Troubleshooting.

(4) In that next window, under "System and Security", at the bottom of the list, choose and click on "Check for performance issues".

(5) A Performance window appears with an option to adjust settings to help improve overall speed and performance. Click on "Next" near its lower right corner.

(6) A search begins for issues, and if nothing specific is found, then you will be told that it is set up to automatically run programs at Startup which may slow down that procedure. It will offer to start the System Configuration utility, and you should choose "Next" to get it started.

(7) When the System Configuration utility window opens, you will see under its "Startup" tab a list of items each with a checkbox before it, and any items in the list which are already checked will be automatically started during your computer's initial starting-up routine. You can prevent those from being started automatically at Startup by simply removing that little check mark from the box, by clicking on it. NOTE: Those not checked on the list will still be started as required by your Windows Operating System, during normal computer use, so you don't need a whole bunch of them on this list. These are often added to this list automatically by their installation programs when first installed, so you should periodically check this list to remove (uncheck) the ones you don't need every time the computer is started.

(8) After you've trimmed down that list of checked items preferably to only those required for your system's security, then you can complete the process by clicking on "Apply" and "OK" and then do a system reboot to get these new changes recognized by the system. It should boot faster now.

Additional cleaning:

Other tricks for 'de-gunking' your pet PC running Windows 7 are to make shortcuts to your Prefetch, and (Username) Temp and Windows Temp folders, and regularly dump everything dumpable in those folders. Your anti-virus will likely have a folder in Windows Temp that you will not easily be able to delete, and you don't want to use MoveOnBoot or some other unlocker program on it, because that folder contains your latest set of database samples for the anti-virus, so when you come to that one, choose to 'skip' that, and leave it in there. And don't fret about dumping whatever is in the Prefetch folder, because that is automatically regenerated every reboot. So why dump it at all? Because - it will eventually collect a lot of junk that will be once-only type of files used to assist downloads or suchlike, and which may or may not be empty folders, and which you will never use again, but are taking up space and bytes. So out-out-out with them!

Your computer will thank you, and show it by giving you better performance, because it isn't hunting through junk while it ought to be responding to your latest requests. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

About Thanksgiving.....

Thanksgiving being a time for reflecting on our blessings and giving some thought to how fortunate we are just to be alive and experiencing all this, here's a video that I was introduced to by a friend in South Carolina. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Traditional Christmas Song - Yust Fur Yoo!

This one's a 'politically incorrect' Golden Oldie for sure!
A fitting kick-off to the Silly Season.

To our American Cousins and Friends........

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And by the way ..........

In today's paper.....

There's an article in the paper today with an accompanying video asking the question "Hottest car commercial ever?", and first, let's have a look at the video which the paper dissects frame by frame while flogging their point to death.....

It's 'hot' alright, but they don't make the connection to a car very well, and for that matter......well, why not just read the email I sent Dear Editor about it.....

Dear Editor:

As an old guy who has fallen for far too many 'come-ons'
from car dealers over the years, I just want to say that
according to my calculations, those crafty bastards now
owe me sixty years worth of kissing that should have been
included with all that screwing I got from them.

Just in case anyone's keeping score......

Enjoy your day,

Ray in North Van

Bobby Helms, eat your heart out! Here's how it's done....

And Dear Old Chet is rollin' over in his grave...
Don'tcha just love it ?

And now, Bobby's version....

I still prefer Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.
 Enjoy your day, Everyone!

Today's 'Golden Oldie'

This comes to us from a time when The Walkman (remember those?) was still in diapers, and a cheap pair of speakers cost fifty bucks instead of $500. Brenda Lee is almost 67, and still belting them out periodically somewhere.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A little note for Monsieur Beep! ......

I've just read your blog entry of Sunday, November 20, about 'Parents' and I really wish you'd enable comments on that blog. I know you probably have your reasons for not doing so, but I wish you'd reconsider. I really wanted to add a comment on there, to say "God Bless You" and wish you well.

I think I know what you may be feeling by having parents who haven't been communicating with each other very well if at all for many years. I am one of those kind of parents, along with my first wife, who by her own admission, has only made one mistake in her whole life, and that was marrying me. It was my distinct pleasure to help her correct that mistake with a divorce, but it wasn't one of the happy kind. She has only spoken about a dozen words to me since that became final several decades ago, and I had better not repeat those words here. Suffice it to say, I don't call her 'Old Fang' for nothing. She's worked hard to achieve that title, and she deserves it.

But I'm digressing again - forgive me, please. My youngest son, from my second happily-divorced wife, was asking me recently for information about the family, because he hasn't had a lot of contact with his missing father's side of the family, and would like to know something about them. I was pleased to be able to say that none of us is in jail, but some of us are already departed from here into the hereafter. That's something the nature of which has never been adequately spelled out by anyone, even though there have been many hawkers of various religions who have tried valiantly.

Truth is, there's simply no reliable information available to the religious or the others among us. One day, I should do a good rant about religions of various stripes and how those came about, beginning with being afraid of the dark, or afraid of the 'boogie-man', and attributing spiritual values to things like rocks and trees, and elevating good story-tellers to positions of power in the tribe by giving them the task of being a shaman, skilled in all sorts of mumbo-jumbo - and it progressed from there. Ancient Egypt makes a fascinating study if you're interested in early religions, and the roots of our modern ones. Our present-day Popes have a lot in common with those ancient Pharaohs who were thought of as gods, and also doubled as the Chief High Priest of the principal or ruling temple of the land. And for a while there, that richest temple of the land controlled 55% of the gross national product of Egypt, so we aren't talking peanuts and bananas here. Monkey See, Monkey Do? You be the judge. I have my own conclusions drawn already.

There's no accurate count of the number of various religions in the world today, partly because any damned fool can start his own if he can get enough other fools to follow him. Sort of like political parties, come to think of it. But none of that should be taken as permission to assume that there isn't a God, or a Divine Creator. We just haven't adequately identified one yet. We're still in that "afraid of the dark" stage. But logically, there must be one - all of this material universe didn't suddenly materialize on its own from nothing. It takes something to make something, and it takes a Someone to put it all together. I'd better wrap this up for now, or I'll spoil the real rant I'm planning for some day about all this. But keep praying - The Collective Consciousness is listening, and in very quiet moments, if you're sufficiently sincere and humble, answers do come back. There is a Something out there. Or "in here" perhaps, depending on how you see it.

* Note: Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 =

Here's what is wrong with allowing any garden-variety idiot to form his own religious organization. Please read this article from Google News.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter wonderland

Just after sunrise this morning.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

That time of year again...

The hills are white,
It's a chilly night,
Feels like snow -
So here we go....

'The Green Thing' - Maybe not so new....

The  Green Thing

Checking  out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she  should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for  the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't  have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk  responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough  to save our environment for future generations."

She was right --  our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then,  we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The  store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and  refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really  were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our  day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in  every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't  climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.  But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back  then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away  kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine  burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes  back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers  or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right.  We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had  one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a  small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the  size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by  hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old  newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.  Back then,  we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We  used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we  didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on  electricity. But she's right.  We didn't have the green thing back  then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of  using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We  refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we  replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole  razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing  back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids  rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a  24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an  entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a  computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles  out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it  sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward  this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our vertical climate....

In British Properties, they drive all-wheel-drives because....

...Because sometimes, they have to leave home
on days like this when it gets exciting.
Us poor folks live down in the bottom land,
where the grass is green and the beer cold.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

B.C. Hydro has been getting hell lately, because.....

Because their 'smart meters' are basically spyware, for starters, but also because they've been claiming to make a profit while all the while, for the past nine years or so, they've been losing money consistently, but hiding that fact from the general public by using some tricky and highly unorthodox 'creative accounting' with which they've been converting present losses into future debt on some kind of deferred payment scheme. A scheme that we are told has no definite repayment schedule and seems to be very vague about details.  Like I said, 'creative accounting' - not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing.

And it's the 'same old, same old' when it comes to Hydro's top brass and the provincial government's political bosses. Hydro's income is still being milked by its government masters and converted into 'General Revenues' on the government's books, to cover the government's own fiscal follies using money that should rightly go towards maintenance and renewal and expansion of our province-wide electrical grid and the generation facilities which provide its power. There's really nothing new under the sun, Folks. I worked for those bastards for 20 years, and I know where the skeletons are buried, but there's nothing much I can do about it, so please don't ask. But if you're playing ball with those guys, keep your eye on the bat, and keep your butt towards the wall.

And of course they aren't gaining any popularity by having their contracted tree-trimmers commencing operations in your neighborhood at 14 minutes after seven in the morning when it's not even fully daylight yet, and you maybe haven't had your first cuppa of the day. That also puzzles me, because as one of those contractors told me recently, they don't usually rush into jobs for Hydro, because it usually takes Hydro three months or so to get around to paying them for their work. Maybe they have to go back to their provincial masters and get the money back out of 'General Revenues' do you suppose? It's a terrible tangled web out there, I kid you not.

And this is what they get for raising hell in my neighborhood at the crack of dawn for no good goddamned reason on an otherwise half-decent morning. No wonder they aren't wildly popular among the unwashed masses. They seem to think 'public relations' means having sex in the city park, and if brains were dynamite, there's a few of them that would find blowing their noses to be a formidable challenge.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Very popular spot today....

The bird feeder is getting a real workout
with the fresh snow in the hills lately.
Would you believe? I can 'Frisbee'
slices of bread almost that far away
from my 16th floor balcony, and the
larger local birds airlift it all over the
neighborhood. It's almost like having
my own air force.

It's winter up there today -

This started out as color, 
but it was mostly black and white,
so I converted it to that, 
and gave it a little sharpening.
It's that kind of day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The greatest dance band of the 60s and 70s....

Don't step on the cat!
And don't knock over the furniture...
Otherwise, Go For It !

James Last and Roberto Delgado
and Bert Kaempfert all used
the same pool of studio musicians
for their great arrangements.

Да, товарищ!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today's weather was a little of everything -

After lunch, the wind came up, it began to rain, then lightning, then hail about the size of peas bringing down a lot of leaves from the trees, and then a few minutes later that cleared off, and the sun came out, to reveal fresh snow on the nearby mountains.

Then later on, we had a nice sunset with a few clouds over Georgia Strait and Vancouver Island. All in all, not a bad day as it turned out.

The neighborhood this morning.....

...looks like this - just like it should.

Prognosticationally Speaking.......

I decided to have a look at this today, because at 10:58 a.m. Eastern Standard Time ( 07:58 Pacific) seventy-nine years ago today, I first arrived on this warlike and disgustingly backward little planet in a primitively equipped little hospital in a small town in northern Ontario, where they get nine months of winter, two months of bad skiing, and one month's summer.

It was snowing lightly at the time, and the wind was blowing out of the north at about 15 miles per hour, and I was the talk of the hospital that morning for disturbing the peace and quiet of the two-minutes silence at 11:00 a.m. on that Armistice Day, 1932. I've been a shit-disturber ever since, and it's a job I do quite naturally and rather well if I do say so myself. It's my way of getting back at the world for handing me a birthday on a day such as this, with all its doom and gloom and military salutes and horseshit and gunpowder and nasty weather and boring flowers. In my next life, I'm going to try a lot harder to arrive in the middle of July or August when it's a lot more civilized in most populated places, and even some which aren't. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A dedication to Jimmy, our resident billionaire -

From all of us who enjoy your lights
every year visible for many miles,
and reminding us it's Christmas.

And a special thanks for that new
Emergency Ward at Lions Gate Hospital.
I've used it, and it is a wonderful improvement
over the one it replaces.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Mr. P, our resident billionaire, is already testing his Christmas lights!

The top one is at a normal ISO,
and the bottom one is at ISO 3200.
The bottom one looks a bit overexposed
but it's a lot brighter.
There's other parts to this light display
which aren't on yet, such as the star
which is above the right-hand end
(east end) of the roof with its
streamers of light coming down
onto the rooftop.
That requires a local crane which 
evidently hasn't arrived yet.
So "stay tuned, Folks!"

We still have flies and wasps flying around outdoors

And it's 59 F on the balcony.
And almost half-past November!

Meanwhile, back to the music....

"The Mosquito"


More tropical vacation music....

Edmundo Ros - "Tico Tico"

Why am I thinking 'Carmen Miranda'?
The gal with the 200 MPH mouth...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roberto's version of The Carioca,
which got its start in the 1933 movie
'Flying Down to Rio', Fred and Ginger's
very first musical.
In that, The Carioca goes on and on,
for nearly 15 minutes, with everybody
except the cameraman taking a turn at it.
But it's a great old tune, and I love it!

Coconut Woman is a busy one!

Will the real Roberto Delgado please say hello?

"Bahia Blanca"
Please see the ending credits 
for the real "Roberto"...
and enjoy the music!

Bahia Blanca means White Bay,
and Delgado is Spanish for "thin".
So Roberto Delgado might translate
to "Thin Bob" or "Skinny Robert".
But it has a nice sound to it.

Roberto Delgado does it better.....

Sounds like 'Carnaval' already...

And who is Roberto Delgado, you ask?
And the answer is:-
Click this link, please.

Nice 'wake-up' music -

"The Peanut Vendor" - Lester Lanin Orchestra
Why am I thinking 'Brazil' ?
The beaches at Rio...
Those Brazilian-cut bikinis...
Carnival in Rio...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Connecting the dots.....

In 1983, Cyndi Lauper hit the charts with an album from CBS Records titled 'She's So Unusual' and one of its cuts was this one, 'He's So Unusual' which comes originally from the 1929 movie 'Sweetie' starring Helen Kane and Jack Oakie. I have the Cyndi Lauper LP, but let's listen to Helen Kane doing the original, shall we?

The Sexy Sixties Revisited with Lester Lanin Twistin'

Remember 'The Twist'? Sure you do!
Too Young?
Too Bad !!
"Shake it but don't break it, Baby!"

They came back ..................

I guess they like it here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Let's go backward when forward fails !

I've always loved the Poo-Poo-Pee-Doo Girl,
Miss Helen Kane, the inspiration for
Betty Boop.
Another of her hits,
Get Out and Get Under The Moon.

And let's not forget this one!
"I Want To Be Bad"

You ain't heard nothin' yet.....

Is this a toe-tapper, or what?

This is nice too....

Last but not least, this one!
Lester, you did nice work!

The world population and other rantable topics....

There's a website if you click here, with a population clock ticking away toward our seven billion mark, which we apparently haven't quite reached yet.

There's also another little program, into which you can type your birth date and it will show you how many people were alive on earth the day you arrived here among us unwashed and unfriendly masses. To those of you who consider yourselves both washed and friendly, I just want to say "Don't get too smug about that, because you're vastly outnumbered by those who aren't washed, friendly, literate, or unarmed." And an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

But I digress again - sorry about that. Today's rant concerns itself with the idea that there's too much automation in a world which has too many people. Too few of those people are actually literate and gainfully employed in a role which allows them to be self-supporting, or supporting others as well.

I went to the hospital the other evening, to deliver a little card to a friend, and upon turning into their pay-parking lot, I got an unpleasant surprise. Ever since they did a major renovation to that hospital in the very early 1980s there has been a little booth at the mouth of the driveway separating the entrance and exit lanes, and containing a nice friendly East Indian chap collecting the parking fees and dispensing your change. He's now GONE! Automated right out of there, booth and all, to be replaced by individually numbered parking spaces and two robotic ticket-dispensing machines which take various coins, dispense parking tickets for your dashboard, and are said to be solar powered. They don't even use the grid's electricity, which I spent a semi-profitable career helping to produce. And all this at a time when we're rapidly approaching seven billions of humans on this overpopulated little planet designed for maybe half this many. So today's "Question Everything" is: "What the hell are we thinking?"

If science could save our asses or save us from ourselves, it would likely have already found a way to keep us from screwing ourselves out of a place at the table, a parking spot at the mall, and a place to stand in line. And Old Uncle Albert was absolutely right when he said, "The commonest element in the universe is not hydrogen, but rather stupidity, and the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits!"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A vertical panorama by Microsoft's I.C.E.

This is a B-I-G image - made from 8 separate images at about 14x optical on a Pentax X70 compact digital. It is 13,517 pixels high by 3610 wide and Google's image-handling setup here simply can't do it justice. But I'm showing it anyway, to give you an idea of what Microsoft Research's I.C.E (Image Composite Editor) can do if you drop a series of images into it. There's no manual positioning or anything like that - the program does all that automatically and very quickly, and voila! a picture like the above.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Live Better Electrically.....

But not too electrically!
Trees too close to the hot stuff
aren't the only problem to watch.

Here he is, brushing a top away between
the Hydro line and the underbuilt telephone
and cable distribution cables.
Local squirrels use those larger telephone
cables like a 'sidewalk' to move along from
tree to tree or block to block, so you might
say we have squirrels also living better electrically.

Winter returns to the high country

And now, a little old-time rock....

Ah, those were the days....

And then came Boogie! 
How's that grab you?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mannheim Steamroller - nobody does it better!

Their Christmas albums and discs are
the absolute best beyond which you can't get!
You must have at least a couple already.
If not, I can only ask "Why not?"

It's 1984 all over again!

Or maybe it's 2004...

Attention Shoppers!!!

It's C-C-C-Cold outside!

Cold, but quite a nice day!
Checked your antifreeze lately?
Got your thermal snuggies handy?
Going to California for the winter?
You'll miss the best skiing in the West!

A little 'catch-up' from yesterday...
These guys were raising hell here
yesterday morning, removing a
'danger tree' that's obviously been
one for decades!
They must have been saving it 
for a 'slow day'...

  And this little Maple at the mouth of that
driveway across the street looks lovely!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Around here today.....

If flowers could talk...
No tank top and shorts today!