Thursday, May 31, 2012

Want a Mousepad you'll never wear out?

It's a 13 by 13 inch ceramic tile, $3.99 at the local building supply, and it works like a charm! You can pay more, but you won't get anything that lasts longer or is easier to clean. You can also get little plastic stick-on 'feet' for it, so it won't scratch the desktop or tend to move around. This beats the hell out of those cute but too-small rubberized and pricey mousepads you get in the computer department of your local office supplies store. This one will outlast your computer I betcha! And an optical mouse just loves it.....

USA Today says:

Today's Question Everything is: " How do you spell 'Shithead'?"

This is a classic example of why us semi-literate, pseudo-intellectual unwashed masses have such a great distrust of lawyers and especially those who become politicians. This guy's raging hormones led to him consciously doing things that he knew were wrong and hurtful to those to whom he was already committed, but he ignored that and hoped not to be found out. Now that he's been exposed for what he is, he's trying to imply that it wasn't really all that bad, and that God may yet have plans for him. God had nothing to do with it. This was the Devil's work  exclusively, so let's leave God out of it, shall we? 

It's no Shuttle, but if it works don't fix it....

Dragon leaving the ISS after first departure burn.
(From USA Today/NASA Video) 
It's no Shuttle for sure, but it's not a foreign rent-a-rocket either. Now, if it just had a couple of windows....maybe a wing or two.....perhaps a rudimentary tail with control surfaces.....what's that?....'We can't afford it!'.....OK, OK, I hear ya!
But flying home blind in a glorified beer can isn't how I wanted to come home....
This Astronaut stuff isn't everything it's cracked up to be, let me tell you!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Suspicions Confirmed: You aren't really sick....

Ever wondered if maybe you're being treated for something that you haven't got?

Well, recent research suggests that you may be right - our marvelous medics are engaging in a bit of 'make work project' and pre-treating potential problems, it seems. So you may not be as unhealthy as you may have been led to believe.
Here's the whole story. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bandidas, the movie

This is why they call it 'the boob tube' I betcha. These two delightful creatures are a couple of tricky bank robbers with a Robin Hood complex, in a take-off on those early spaghetti westerns of the sort that made Clint Eastwood a household name. I need not tell you Clint never looked this good in his life. Trust me. I caught a part of this movie this morning, and now I wish I'd woke up sooner, because it shouldn't be missed. It really should be seen from start to finish, I'm sure. Maybe even two or three times.....

Do these look like vicious gunslingers to you? But are you absolutely sure?

Why does this remind me of Kiana Tom, the fitness queen of ESPN?

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's wrong with war?

Too Many of its participants end up here.

From USA Today's Pictures of the Day.

Rain, rain, go away - come again another day!

This was an especially intense and mercifully short little shower this afternoon, one among several today, this one including some hail. It's a mild winter we're having this summer here. I'm beginning to wish I lived someplace else, and this is the first time since moving to B.C. 44 years ago that I've felt this way. The climate being different now in most other places too, it probably wouldn't help.
May as well stay and face the music I guess. This isn't the same B.C. I found in 1968 though; I'm sure of that much. Back then, we'd be working on our second or third bad sunburn of the summer, instead of going around looking up in the sky during these rare clearing periods and asking each other "What's that big ball of fire up there in the sky?" It's getting ridiculous, folks.

Q. E. II runs into a beach....

Courtesy of USA Today's 'Pictures of the Day'

"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
If the Devil don't get you,
The Sand Sculptor must!"

Trouble in Paradise....

News headline: Pope's butler pledges 'full co-operation'....

Pilgrim #1: "So how are things in Sodom and Gomorrah?"

Pilgrim #2: " I don't know - Come back tomorrah!"

The problem with religions (the whole 4,000-plus) is that God doesn't need one.
Only us lesser creatures have any need for one, but we've never been able to limit ourselves to just one. Any fool can form his own religion if he can get enough other gullible nitwits to believe whatever he says. And therein lies the problem. And that's why religions have started more wars than the invention of gunpowder. Everybody wants you to believe theirs is Number One, and they're often willing to kill you to prove it. For that matter, they're often known to kill each other too. And there's simply no way that an evil can have good results.

Climate Change/Global Warming/You-name-it...

Chicago Tribune: Chicago today.

My camera: West Vancouver today.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Dear Mr. Microsoft:"

Dear Mr. Microsoft:
Please update your information which says that Windows 7 Themes can only be used in Windows 7. Please take a peek in the lower right corner to confirm that this is Windows 8 I'm running this excellent theme Castles of Europe in, and it's
working perfectly - just like in Windows 7. For those of you who would like one, you can find it in Microsoft's Windows 7 Themes, and there's 21 images in this theme, and they are all quite impressive. I'm tempted to ask how some of these managed to survive those thousand-bomber air raids during the Second World War, but obviously, they must have. My only beef about it if I had to have one would be that there could have been a better picture of that wonderful castle in
Bavaria, which inspired the Walt Disney folks when they built their own castle.

I'm speaking of course of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, and here is the shot your theme should have used. Now this is a castle!

Your image shows the mountains very nicely, but not the castle to best advantage, and this theme is about castles, after all.....

In that second picture I hope you keen-eyed observers noticed the people on the balcony on the first floor near the middle of it. 

It pays to advertise.....

This is Irina Shayk ( whose surname is actually much longer, but even the Russians have trouble with Russian names, it seems) and she's posing in Moscow
for the photogs, and giving them an eyeful of her - ahem - assets, just in case they missed her on the cover of last year's S.I. Swimsuit Edition. Obviously, she believes "If you've got it - flaunt it!" Dah, Tovarishch!

Meanwhile, Pravda reports Putin's puppet picked to pump party popularity with the proletariat: Medvedev takes over the United Russia party from Putin, while Putin is busily appointing former ministers as personal aides, and doing his best to downgrade Medvedev's influence among the movers and shakers. In other words, it's still the same old hotbed of intrigue in Moscow.

And please note: before you go surfing Russian websites like you'd better have a really good anti-virus like Avast, which will warn you about infected websites before you get infected by them. Over there, they aren't nearly as particular as we are about keeping malware in check, and there is a much greater likelihood of picking up something, so please be warned.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

More about removing half of a dual-boot setup...

Even though you can't interfere with a Windows operating system which is installed in any partition of a drive which is classified as 'Primary', 'Logical' or otherwise active, you can remove one if its partition is first of all changed to
'simple' and 'unallotted' or 'unassigned'. In other words, trick the system into seeing it as not presently containing anything critical. Then, you can use a program like Easeus Partition Master to wipe that partition, and reformat it,
and then assign it a drive letter, and designate it as 'logical', so it is now ready
to accept some other operating system, should you wish to install one on it.
Alternatively, you could reclaim that portion back into your primary partition containing your main 'C:' drive's operating system, and have only the one partition on your hard drive again. And that's how to get rid of an unwanted O/S in a second partition of your hard drive. Works for me! 

And just in case you weren't following my previous rant (below) this all got started because the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (read: pre-release beta) got
corrupted and quit completing its boot-up and log-on procedure fully. It was hanging at a point just before the user actually signs in with his name and password, so when you can't get into the damned thing, the only alternative that I know of is to trash it, and start fresh. But you can't even do that, until you can outsmart the protection that's built in to stop you from doing that. So this first paragraph above tells how I did that. And you're wondering why, aren't you?

OK - here's why: For a desktop user without a touch-enabled screen and without a desire to go out and buy one, this new Windows 8 is just a less-user-friendly version of Wonderful Windows 7, Service Pack One.  For us guys, we ought to be calling it Windows 7 Mystified and Vistafied. It's got Win-7's good stuff all mixed up with in-your-face and mostly-useless graphics, and extra interrogations all too reminiscent of completely-unloved Vasta Vista, the most awkward Windows since the demise of Windows Millennium. Remember that one? I paid a dealer $146 for that feeble excuse for an operating system a few years ago, and all it did for me was help me practice my cursing and swearing and learn some new words for it. Ditto, Vasta Vista! But every cloud has its silver lining, and that got me and the rest of the world howling at little Sally and the rest of Mighty Microsoft's Techs to get something that actually works for more than making its customers fighting mad every time they turn it on. So they cleaned up their act, and did a wonderful job of it, too, and the result is Wonderful Windows 7.

So today's Question Everything is: "Why do I need Windows 8 on a non-touch system which in any case would still need its keyboard and mouse for certain operations that you can't give the finger to?" And the answer is: "I don't!", so
I took it off this PC's dual boot setup, and got ready for Windows 9 instead.
In case I live that long.... I still have Win-7 and Win-8 on my other PC in a dual boot setup, so I'm not missing anything but some extra annoyance.

Friday, May 25, 2012


 Looking north up the valley between West and North Vancouver.

 The snow is melting more quickly now.

Vintage transportation: Memory Lane on Wheels

My friend Uncle Ron sent almost three dozen of these old pictures of weird old
cars and almost-cars, and I couldn't resist adding captions to a few. You should see the ones that got away!

Vancouver Island Mountains....

As the crow flies, these are about 23 miles away.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It only took forever......

When something serious hits the fan and the old computer refuses to co-operate it takes literally hours and hours to get it back to where it was before all that.

I was trying last night to re-install Internet Explorer 10 into Windows 8, and even though I had carefully removed it a few weeks ago, Windows scanned my machine and reported it was "already installed". So it wouldn't accept a fresh one and I then tried to install the I.E. 9 like Windows 7 uses. Not only did that not go, but the Windows 8 began hanging during reboots at a point just before the logon takes place. I tried System File Checker's " sfc /scannow" and then tried to use the installation DVD to get it to repair itself, and none of that was accepted for some mysterious reason. Then, doing more reading on it, I learned that there's no way we can remove/delete/overwrite this Windows 8 with anything else including a couple of special programs designed to trash whatever's on a drive partition so it can be re-used again. If we don't like Windows 8, or it gets corrupted and dies, tough luck - we're stuck with it.

That really annoyed me, to think that Microsoft would set it up so that it can't be removed if we want to revert to something else that perhaps works for us. So then I got busy with EasyBCD and Easeus, and forced a few changes that really render it useless, by changing its partition to Unallocated and removing it from the Boot menu with EasyBCD. So now, it's Windows 7 or nothing on one of my machines that was formerly dual-booting quite nicely. And the painful part was that while messing with the drive's partitions, I successfully messed up Windows 7 as well, and so I had to start fresh with its DVD, and re-install that
one, and then spend hours getting its updates (100+) put back in, so it now conforms again to the Service Pack 1 configuration, and then begin putting in
all those third-party programs we all love to have handy. I'm still not done all that, but I've now got the essentials working again, like the mail, and the favorite browser, and the photo-editing and icon-making ones and a few others.

Maybe it was time for a freshening up of the whole works, but I hadn't really planned on quite that much all at once. But I'm not terribly sorry about losing one of these Windows 8 ones. The Windows 8, in spite of the hype we're fed,  about the future of software and all, really isn't as convenient as Windows 7 for those like me who simply want to use a regular keyboard and mouse equipped desktop computer. It also has unpleasant reminders of Vasta Vista's paranoic
security with those pesky permissions for this and that. So I'm not going to miss it a whole lot. I don't see it as any kind of "gotta-have-it" situation.
Hell, there's still guys scratching things on flat rocks somewhere, so a program
like Windows 7 will do me just fine, thanks. And it's paid for already.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not much horizon showing.....

More 'This & That' with 'Oldest Living Blogger'

Looking at the Google Doodle today, the playable keyboard, which incidentally can be 'tuned' using those adjustments in the top section above the keyboard,
I decided to read Wikipedia's article on Robert Moog, and that in turn opened up a whole 'Down Memory Lane' thing for me. It mentions Wendy Carlos of 'Switched-on Bach' fame, and us old-timers will remember Wendy as Walter Carlos, whose first big commercial hit enabled him to get that operation which resulted in Walter becoming Wendy. And Walter/Wendy worked closely with Robert Moog for a while, engineering and perfecting the synthesizer and proving it could take its place as a legitimate musical instrument. I still have the old original vinyl 12-inch LPs of Wendy's exceptional arrangements of Bach and other music, and these still sound just as good as ever on my old direct-drive Quartz turntable from Technics, with a good Grado pickup on it. Anyway, going back over all that in Wikipedia made me very conscious of the fact that most of the important people of the world as I've known it in the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of this one are now either already gone or fading fast, including myself, of course.

Memory Lane is a real man-trap, isn't it? We can waste our lives away there. So let's switch back to the here and now. Is your keyboard full of crumbs? Maybe a few spills of coffee drops, or the remains of snacks, and you're wondering what could be done about it, other than tossing it and getting a new one? These are assembled much like the remote for your TV or Stereo, in a sandwich system, and can be disassembled (carefully) and cleaned out with a vacuum or duster and then reassembled again, and the proof that this works is that you're now reading this being typed on one that was just taken apart and put together again as above.

Lately, while using this test version of Windows 8 and trying to decide if I really want to continue using it, I thought in all fairness to Mighty Microsoft, maybe I ought to check the Windows 8 Blog for the latest news, and I'm glad I did. You should too, and you can find it right here. And as you'll see if you scroll down through it a bit, there's a very interesting short history of the various incarnations of Windows as it has evolved, along with its more important changes from one to the next. I was surprised to read that laptops have been outselling desktops recently, for example. Or that the good old mouse may be fading fast in favor of something called the Track Pad. Presumably an idea from aforementioned laptops. So maybe I'd better not be too hasty about arguing against progress. There's a reason for everything, if we look for it, and the only constant in life is Change. Go with the flow, or become a relic, it's up to you! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Conrad Black vs Thomas Mulcair, trading insults...

Today, in this morning's Globe and Mail, there's a headline reading 'Conrad Black blasts Mulcair over British criminal 'cheap shot' ' which appears to be another tempest in a teapot. Conrad Black, the former media mogul and ex-con taking exception to the recently-appointed leader of the Official Opposition's nasty remarks in Parliament isn't really news. More like 'filler'.

But all of that insult-hurling prompts today's Question Everything:
Is this leader of the federal NDP and Official Opposition in Parliament slyly trying to re-invigorate the protracted unofficial French Revolution in this country again?
He was, after all, a 'snivel servant' in the upper strata of the Quebec provincial government until he and the Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, had a falling-out over a cabinet shuffle, and he left in a huff to switch from Liberal to New Democratic Party. Political opportunists are all alike, it seems. They salute any flag that may get them where they want to go, and can change their principles as easily as you and I would change our shirts or socks. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our holiday weekend weather...

This being Victoria Day in Canada.....

I thought perhaps I ought to refresh myself on some of the details of all that, so I visited Wikipedia's item for Queen Victoria. It makes fascinating reading, or at least semi-fascinating reading, because it's practically choked with intrigue and diabolical machinations, and love-making, and interbreeding, and shocking behaviors all around. Too bad it isn't fiction, it might have been a best-seller.
And what did Victoria look like, you ask? I just happen to have a picture handy...

This is little Princess Victoria at the tender age of four, and you may be wondering who was in charge of her wardrobe when it was decided to dress this sweet little defenseless kid in this absolutely hideous outfit. It's a wonder she didn't run away from home! I'm sure I would have. The hell with the Empire! Let me out of here!

Later on, after she became Queen, there were several attempts to shoot her as she rode around London in her carriage (the Rolls Royce not having been built yet) and a couple of those deranged young men were said to have been 'transported'. Following that link, I learn that this meant being exiled to one of the colonies rather than being executed, and was presumed to be a humane type of punishment in those times. The colonies in question were usually those
in the Americas, meaning what's now the U.S.A. and Canada. So here we are celebrating the birthday of a British Royal who led a hotbed of intrigue in ruddy old England ages ago and populated our countries with convicts and other undesirables from the homeland. Thanks a bunch, you pompous asses! And let me only say that being banished from ruddy old England to a place like this couldn't possibly be considered as anything but a vast improvement. The real punishment would be in forcing one to return to the old sod.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who knew a guy could look like this ? Wow!

"Momma, buy me one of these! Don't wrap it up, I'll play with it here!"

She didn't make the top five, but she came awfully close, in the top twelve,
and good on her.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Face this, Facebook!

One of the most anticipated IPOs in Wall Street history ended on a flat note Friday, with Facebook’s stock closing at $38.23, up 23 cents from Thursday night’s pricing.

That's the word from the Washington Post.

Today's 'Question Everything' is:- "What do they sell?"

The answer is: "Your own bullshit."  Someone's paying billions for bullshit.
Are we crazy, or what? No wonder the economy's gone to hell.

Barbarella returns to Cannes.....

Where's the Orgasmatron?

Check this out, aging girl-watchers! 

Isn't it wonderful what Botox and Plastic Surgery can do?

"The beat goes on...."

On the uppermost street in British Properties of West Vancouver (snob hill to us) another home on Millstream Road is having something done involving a large mobile crane.  There's always something being built, renovated, or demolished up
there in the rarefied regions of the rich and famous, where, if you have to ask "How much?" you definitely can't afford it. Their dogs eat better than some of our people do, and if you need proof, just visit Ambleside Park on the West Vancouver waterfront near Lions Gate Bridge, where they bring those dogs in their $60,000 SUVs to crap all over the public's grass. Accidentally riding your bike through some of that stuff can spoil your whole trip. And we won't discuss the smell. Us long-suffering taxpayers are really good to our privileged class. I fervently hope they appreciate it. I couldn't live up there even if I did have the entry fees, because they don't make studded snow tires for my motorcycle, and up there you really need special tires when the weather gets bad. Proving that even the rich and famous have their crosses to bear. Speaking of bears, they have those too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

B.C. Hydro is something else!

This used to be a nice little newsletter in booklet form, with a few short articles about us Old Farts or Hydro propaganda, and then several pages of obituaries
informing us of all our former work-mates and acquaintances no longer among us.
Now, it's a one-page two-sided begging effort for a worthy cause unrelated to anything relevant to our former shared working experiences at the old Megawatt Manufacturing and Union Busting Consortium, better known as B.C. Hydro.

In this one, we're asked for fifty dollars for a book telling us the story of the developments on our two main rivers devoted to hydro-electric projects here,
which many of us were personally involved with as these were first built and placed in operation.  There's a previous book costing $35 called 'Gaslights to Gigawatts' covering this same material plus earlier history of the coming of electricity (and the coming of me) to British Columbia, in which I made a couple of brief contributions. So why would I buy another one with less coverage in it?
I worked at the original Peace River Project and also at the construction site as the first of the big Columbia River dams were built, so I don't need the book.
"Been there and done that." Ain't going back!

B.C. Hydro pushing almost a thousand of us into early retirement in 1988 left
me on a poverty line pension ten years short of 65 and the government's pension, and thus losing out on both ten years wages and ten years contributions to the Canada Pension Plan, and the health care plan premiums they promised to pay on my behalf as a condition of that special deal they've unloaded onto the main provincial government, but they haven't added that value onto my pension, even though it is money I am owed because of their "carved in stone" deal at the time we signed on the dotted line to accept early retirement. They can't find me when they owe me something like the fifty bucks a month they no longer contribute on my behalf to the provincial medical services plan, but they can find me instantly whenever they have a fund-raising drive and want donations. I could tell you what I think of that, but if I did, then Google would probably terminate my blogging privileges for excessive profanity.

B.C. Hydro has never seemed to understand that its workers are not only union members ( or were back in my day) but also its consumers and taxpayers and voters  involved in choosing the provincial government from which it takes its directions. In my time, there was always a war going on between the unionized blue-collar workers who kept the lights on and the white-collar supervisory staff who barked the orders and presented their ample butts to us for the obligatory butt-smooching. If we didn't play that game, we were told that God would get us for that, and so would they. Some of us were not amused. And you won't read the gruesome details of any of that in those fifty-dollars-a-slice books they are flogging to collect donations for the Children's Hospital.  But you should, because that's an integral part and parcel of our B.C. Hydro history, without which the story is far from complete. 

I should add here that I've been asked why our Hydro rates are so high, and one of the answers would have to include the fact that during all of my experience working there, we usually had about three Chiefs for every Indian, ostensibly so that some of them could immediately step up to the control boards or grab a tool pouch to fix something in the unhappy event that we wage-slaves walked out on strike. And whenever we did, it usually took weeks to get things back to normal after all that temporary supervisory replacement help had fumbled its way through until we returned to work. This put a definite strain on all that obligatory butt-smooching. Or as I impetuously explained to one supervisor, "I'd love to kiss your ass, Chief, but frankly I'm having a problem with all that, because I can't figure out where to start - from here it looks like you're all ass!" He replied, "God's going to get you for that!" And I said, "He already has - I'm here, I'm trying to carry the bows and arrows for three of you Chiefs, and still keep the lights on in my spare time. How could it get any worse?"

More of our flowers, thanks to our gardeners.

From the L.A. Times.... some bad news.

I hope Governor Brown remembers this includes or should include the $400-million or so still owing to B.C. Hydro as a result of his old buddy, the
former Governor Joseph Graham 'Gray' Davis, Jr. calling us up one day during his self-imposed electricity crisis of 2000 -> 2001 and tearfully asking for our help
to cover his butt and alleviate some of the brown-outs and blackouts they were having at the time. We sent them all the electricity we could, and in the process drew down the reservoirs at our biggest hydro-electric sites on the Peace and
Columbia Rivers, leaving ourselves vulnerable. 

The instant that crisis was manageable, Gray Davis began claiming that we had
been ripping him off all along, and refused to pay us a dime, the sniveling little wretch. And we haven't forgotten, in case anyone thinks we may have. We did our best to save his butt for him, and he turned right around and bit the hands that did it. Small wonder he ended up being only the second Governor in American history to be recalled, and is now a gold-plated nobody. It couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. And then along came Arnold 'I'll be back!' Schwarzenegger, and the rest is history....

Goodbye, SIN Card....

For the full article, please click here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just Wondering......

After a power outage here yesterday morning, in which the circumstances were unusual, and a low voltage condition existed for a time prior to complete failure,
I began wondering what sort of liability, if any, applies to our supplier, BC Hydro.

A search of their Tariff reveals the following:-

I wonder how many of us have actually read this interesting composition before?
I would also be interested in knowing how well this might stand up in a law court.

Our flowers.....

In bloom at last....

Across the back street in another condo complex.