Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blog # 133: Eddy's Computer Russian Roulette

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Peace in the Valley?

Silicon Valley's two most powerful CEO's, Steve Jobs of Apple and Eric E. Schmidt of Google, meet very publicly for coffee. Is the feud over?

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Just Who’s Waterloo, Senator DaMint?

Well, after Sunday’s vote on Health Care Reform there’s one thing you can say for Republicans. They speak, and vote, with a single voice, and a completely closed mind. You know, we might have actually believed their sincerity until Senator Jim DaMint of North Carolina spilled the proverbial beans. “If we could just stand together,” he said, “health care could be Barack Obama’s Waterloo.”

Republicans appeared frequently on the balcony overlooking Tea Party protesters Sunday, flashing them messages of encouragement and shamelessly leading them on. Meanwhile Tea Partying losers were cursing, calling out racial invectives, and even spitting on those Members of Congress who weren’t planning to vote the way they wished.

Is this is the kind of decorum that the Republican Party wishes for America? Really? This is the kind of lawlessness that Hitler used to get himself into power in Germany in the 1930’s.

And the weird thing is that Republicans seem to honestly think they are speaking for the majority, and expect to be rewarded at the polls this fall for what is the most hostile behavior towards a President and a piece of legislation, in the history of American politics. And they boastfully claim this coming fall they will take down each and every Democrat who voted for the bill.

Polling showing the public’s falling opinion of the bill happened because the Republicans’ used their favorite tactic, spreading groundless, mindless fear, including lies and misstatements about the bill. This was possible because it was a 1800 page bill, one few had read, a bill filled with unknowns.

However what the GOP seems to have overlooked is that once the bill has become law, and current insurance holders discover that they are not going to be dropped by the insurance companies if they happen to get sick, and people will not be refused coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Not to mention those tax credits for small businesses to enable them to cover more of their employees, well the Republican claim of continued condemnation by voters certainly becomes a far-fetched notion. As we write polling against the bill is dropping noticeably, and the public’s approval is now running ahead of disapproval.

Boehner/McConnell shrieked their Chicken Little line, “pass health care reform and the sky is going to fall” incessantly in their highest pitched, most grating voices. Now that health care reform is no longer a scary unknown but rather the law of the land, striking fear of the unknown will no longer work. And at 11:15 a.m. March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law and guess what? The sky didn’t fall.

Boehner/McConnell were wrong, whistling Dixie the entire time, serving the GOP interests in trying to make Obama fail, rather than serving the interests of the people back home that they were elected to serve. And the interesting question to me is, how broad a spectrum of the American voter will recognize this obvious fact, and rather than vilifying the Democratic signers, instead reward them next fall with their votes.

The smiles in that room spoke volumes. Mostly it showed how much better it is to be on the winning side, rather than the losing side. Republicans seem to be taking what leadership they are going to allow from the likes of those talk show loonies, Limbaugh/Beck, and the far right. A sorry situation, to be sure, unless of course you are a Democrat. Then its full sails ahead with a strong wind blowing at your back.

And Senator DaMint, a belated thanks to you for coming clean about this Republican tactic. You committed a real service with your Waterloo remark, for it unmasked the Republican strategy for what it was. Why, if not for you, we might have thought the Republican Minority was speaking with one voice on principle, instead of opposing Obama in the fond hope of bringing him down. §

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After several weeks of seeing President Barack Obama tense in the pursuit of health care reform, and incidentally, in getting something concrete done during his first term as president, we thought it a nice contrast to see him relaxing with his family.

People say that publishes only sexy photos and racist comments, but in addition to the usual inflammatory ones of the President occasionally they publish one portraying his humanity. This one, which must have been taken during his vacation last year, is a wonderful example of his humanity. Speaking of family values, how about this valuation of his family.

Disturbing News from Across the Pond

From across the pond comes news from a public health expert that in sections where Facebook registration is highest have seen an increase in cases of syphilis among young women,. reports:

Facebook has contributed to a resurgence in the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis, a health expert has claimed. Cases have increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the areas of Britain where Facebook is most popular.

Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, claimed staff had found a link between social networking sites and the spread of the bacteria, especially among young women. He said: “Syphilis is a devastating disease. Anyone who has unprotected sex with casual partners is at high risk.

"There has been a fourfold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected with more young women being affected. I don't get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites. Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex."

Perhaps it is time to begin enrolling English young ladies with a starter kit of condoms and failing that a full course of penicillin.

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Breath Holding on the Part of Techies

Much of the tech world is holding its breath as we await the April 3rd date when Apple’s iPad computer will go on sale. Will the Slate-like computers really reshape the personal computer. You can bet that Apple is not going to be alone in the field of selling this new and radical type of computer. Several other companies, most notably Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Asus, among others, have announced that they will have Slate computers running Windows 7 on the market.

Techies will always prefer computers with keyboards and mice that you can use to communicate with the machine. But we predict that most people, who neither know nor care about a computer’s inner workings, will take to this new type of machine like a fish to water, providing the machine can access it’s applications and the web as speedily as does the iPhone, and all indications so far point to the iPad being even speedier than the iPhone.

The iPad will have bluetooth wireless connectivity to optional keyboards and mice, for those who just have to have such connectivity. But to the bulk of its users, who will be using it as an e-reader of books or magazines, or using it as a game machine, or using it to watch movies and tv shows, the finger signals, plus occasionally accessing the virtual keyboard, should be enough.§

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How Apple Care Let Me Down

My involvement with Apple Computers dates back to December 1990 when I got my first Macintosh Classic, a black & white computer with all of 4 megabytes of Ram. I have had Apple computers ever since, through Apple’s days of eminent collapse and sale, right up to the return of Steve Jobs and the subsequent righting of the Good Ship Apple. It was one Macintosh after another during the nineties, until finally the fruits of Steve Jobs return gave us the very first iMac. And from then on it has been one small i branded product after another, and it brought on Apple’s subsequent rise as no longer just a computer company, but as an electronics company with its iPod, iPhones, and soon to be released, iPads.

I suffered through countless hours of Windows types complaining about how overpriced Apple’s products were compared to those slovenly marvels which ran Windows. Then one day, about two years ago, the Mac OS suddenly roared past Windows, and many of those same nerds suddenly found that part for part, the Macintosh was every bit as well priced as its Windows counterpart, but more importantly, having the hardware made by the same company which designed its software, now that was electronics you could believe in. And on top of this, modern Macs can boot into Windows, and run Windows software even better than Windows machines do.

I agree with Fortune Magazine that Steve Jobs is the CEO of the decade. No other CEO has come anywhere near creating the intuitive products that he has, and then dreaming up the completely unique line of stores in which to sell his products.

However, I do have a bone to pick with Apple. My local (Memorial City) Apple Store genius done me wrong. I hope you’ll forgive me taking up your time in telling you about it. Why am I devoting time on my blog to tell my story? I have the fond hope that one of you who read it will send a link to my tale to: Preposterous, perhaps. But Jobs does read, and occasionally answers emails. And it would be nice if he or someone at Apple read my story, for I was cheated out of my Apple Care because of roaches in my computer. The facts follow:

On January 10, 2007 I bought an iMac computer. This was a far cry from the iMac I had bought at the end of the 90’s, but it was an example of evolution at its finest. Immediately before the iMac my computer had been an Apple Cube, the final step in the line of power pc computers.

My iMac came with OS 10.4 Tiger, and it runs on it to this day. However, in December of 2009 suddenly, although I leave it on in sleep mode 24/7, on this one day it turned itself off. I reported it to Apple Care, which was still in effect but was due to expire on Jan. 10, 2010. I was given an Apple Care case # 144222663. However, I thought I had found the trouble, a space heater which was plugged in on the same circuit as my computer equipment. I moved the space heater, and the problem didn’t return for awhile.

Then one day, a week before my Apple Care was due to run out, the computer did it again. I phoned Apple Care and they made an appointment for me at the closest Apple Store, in Memorial City Mall. I brought the machine into the store at the appointed time, and it was duly written up, and I left.

I got a call two days later to come pick up the computer. It seems it has roaches. Fellas, I hate to disillusion you but most every piece of electronic equipment in Houston has roaches. It’s a damn shame, but if roaches somehow negatively affected people, all of Houston, Texas would have been long ago been dead.

Here’s what the young Apple Store Genius told me. I should open up the iMac computer with a credit card, spray the insides with liquid air to get rid of the roaches, then bring the machine back in and they would replace the power supply, which had been diagnosed as the problem. He gave me a 10 page book with complete instructions on opening up an iMac.

Look, my friend. I was 83 years old, and have never opened up a computer in my life. I would sooner open up one of my children, yeah right! There are two young men in my household who would have the nerve to open it, but neither reads Spanish much less English, leaving me little confidence in their skills.

I made two attempts to reach out to professionals for help. I called a nearby computer store called the Floppy Wizard, asking if they would open up the machine for me, letting me spray the roaches out, after which they would close it up for me. The young man asked the store’s owner, who declined, saying “I wouldn’t touch an Apple Computer with a ten foot pole.” Gee, now there is a man who can truly assess quality, NOT!

I made one more call, to MicroCenter in Houston, which is an authorized Apple dealer. I made the same proposition, that they open up the computer, I would spray the insides, then they close it once again. The lady I talked to told me she had to ask her supervisor, who came in at noon, and she would get back to me. Unfortunately, she didn’t get back to me. I gave up and let the January 10 date go by without doing anything.

One day last week the machine turned itself off once again. This time I unplugged it from the device it was plugged into and ran it directly to the wall’s 3point plug. That has worked until Tuesday of this week when I awoke to find the machine had turned itself off again. Plugging and unplugging it several times finally saw it start up again. But obviously it needs that new power supply the Apple Care technician had recommended.

And that, my friends, is my predicament. My blessed computer seriously needs a new power supply. One of these days it is going to be off, and not turn on as I plug and unplug it. I would buy a new iMac in a minute if I had the money, but alas what little money I have left will no way pay for a new machine. I’m not sure I can afford a new power supply even, but I will have no choice there for I spend six to eight hours a day at my computer, reading the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Post, the N.Y. Times, and the Daily Beast, among other websites. And of course for four or five hours a day I write my little blog. My iMac is for all practical purposes my window into the world.

What do you think? Should I do nothing and when it finally dies just throw in the towel? Should I take my computer to Micro Center, and hope they have lived in Houston long enough to accept roaches as a fact of life here. Or should I go into my very limited resources and buy a new iMac? Would some kind soul email Steve Jobs and give him a link to this blog:, and ask him what he would do? And include my email: so that if by some miracle he wanted to, he could get back to me.

Well, Little Eddy get real. No reader is going to care enough to email your url to Steve Jobs, and even if someone did, no way would he take the time to read it. Although, I do think that if he did somehow read the story, he would come up with some solution to make it right. That’s just the way Apple operates these days. And so, after reading my little story you will know that if suddenly my blog stays in one place week after week, you will know what happened. My little iMac that could for so many years, suddenly couldn’t.

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Teen Camp’s First Trip, Tumbledown

In this week’s camp memories I would like to tell you about one of my favorite Blueberry Cove trips, the trip to Tumbledown Mountain. Tumbledown was a regularly scheduled trip for the children’s camp, and when I began to plan the Teen Camp’s trips, I made a trip there the first trip, the warm up trip for the teen camp’s summer of trips.

There was a field for camping near the mountain, complete with a fast running mountain brook with a small pool perfect for washing up after a hot, sweaty day’s climb. The climb itself was just about right for an introductory trip for teen campers. The first part of the walk was through woods, which was usually cool and shaded.

The trip usually lasted three days. The first day we would set up camp in the camp grounds, and explore the brook. And I would usually move rocks around so that the pool became deep enough for waist deep standing.

The second day was the day for the climb. The truck would take us around to where the climb would begin. Lunch was packed in day packs, and would be eaten at the top of the mountain. The trail led through the woods, and the shade of the trees kept the climb cool and comfortable.

Every now and then we would pass an opening which would give us a good view of the surrounding countryside. It was at such natural viewing spots where we would take our breaks and enjoy the view. And when you got beyond the trees the trail led to a short rocky dried up stream, which gave you the feel of rock climbing but which was easily within everyone’s skill level.

Once on the top of the mountain a short walk brought you around to a large sized pond lying quite near the summit. Usually the top of the mountain was deserted which made a skinny dip the perfect conclusion of a sweaty climb, and getting one’s self comfortable again for lunch atop the mountain, followed by the climb back down.

For the down journey there were two ways you could go. Climbing aficionados went back down the way we came up, which was a tad scary, but not really dangerous. The second way went down what was mostly along a road, not really a very exciting trip down, but it did have nice views of the countryside and it passed a brook with a swimmable pool at one point, and those who chose that exit were able to get in a separate skinnydip to wash off any remaining dirt and sweat. Being an unfailing fan of skinnydipping I usually chose the road for my descent. And there were usually campers who preferred the easier way down to make up a nice group.

One of my favorite memories of Tumbledown featured a little drama between two eleven year old girls who happened to be bunkmates and who were very competitive with one another. I have told this story before, but it is such a dominant part of my memories of Tumbledown that I can’t resist telling it once again.

When our little group of ne'er-do-wells reached the spot where we left the road for the stream, as usual I was the first one in. Setting an example and all that. There were three girls and two boys along in our group. And it began to look like I was going to be the only one going in.

Elizabeth was 12 and she was a no show in the swim department on this day, as were the two boys. However it soon became clear that Gretchen, one of the 11 year olds had a real itch for the cold water on that hot day. The only thing was, she didn’t want to be the only girl to go swimming naked. And so she took off her jeans, but went into the water dressed in teeshirt and panties.

Her bunkmate, Crystal, it turned out had a bathing suit hidden in a waist belt, the kind of waist belt you usually carry money in. Smugly Crystal went behind some trees to change into her suit, and was back in no time and swimming freely.

Gretchen, who was the more rounded of the two, had nothing to swim in other than her panties and her tee-shirt. And no matter how hard she tried swimming in them the two garments just would not let her move freely. They caught water and ballooned out, slowing her pace to a standstill. The three other kids, two boys and Elizabeth, were sitting on rocks fully dressed, taking in the show that the three of us were putting on.

Gretchen was determined to get a chance to swim, but she was equally determined to not to be the only girl to swim naked. And so she began her campaign by first trying to talk Crystal out of her top. This wouldn’t seem on the surface to be that much of a deal, for Crystal had not yet begun to develop, and her nipples were virtually indistinguishable from those of a boy. Gretchen herself was much further along, sporting ripening nipples sitting on noticeable mounds of flesh.

Even so Crystal did not give in easily, but made Gretchen go on for close to ten minutes about why she should take her top off so they both could swim freely. It was a fascinating display of one person trying to persuade another, with Gretchen having an answer for every Crystal objection until finally Crystal gave in, and turning her back, removed her top, throwing it up on the shore. Of course when she turned back around she could have been a boy for all the development her chest showed, although perhaps that might have been the source of her reticence.

Gretchen then removed her own baggy tee-shirt, and she tried a few strokes but her swimming was still frustrated because the water got into her panties and they ballooned, attempting to pull themselves off her with each stroke, which made swimming progress still impossible. By this time all of us not involved were thoroughly into the game. Would Gretchen be able to talk Crystal out of her bottoms? Inquiring minds wanted to know!

After one more try, Gretchen gave up trying to swim and turned to watch Crystal knife through the water. When she returned from a lazy paddle across the 9 feet Gretchen began again. “I can’t swim worth beans,” she muttered, as if to no one in particular, but we all knew it was directed to Crystal. Crystal shrugged, and said she should’ve brought one in a suit-belt like she had. “But I didn’t,” Gretchen whined, “and it’s too late now.” Crystal nodded just as though she was feeling her pain.

“Of course,” Gretchen went on, “there’s one way I could get a good swim out of this.”

“Yeah, how?” asked Crystal, pretending not to have the faintest idea.

“If you would just take your bottoms off, I could take my panties off too, then I wouldn’t be the only one naked.”

Crystal made a gesture towards me, “You wouldn’t be the only one naked anyway. Ed’s naked.”

“Ed doesn’t count,” said Gretchen, “he’s a boy.”

“He’s a man,” corrected Crystal.

“Duh! Whatever?” said Gretchen. “I’d still be the only girl.”

Crystal looked at Gretchen for a long moment, you could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. All four of us were hanging onto their every word. Not that it really mattered, we all knew how both sexes were gendered. And after all, the showers back in camp were outdoors, so at one time or other everybody was treated to the sight of the other sex naked.

But there was a real honest-to-god human drama unfolding before our ears and eyes, and every one of us was waiting breathlessly to see what the outcome would be. The two continued to eye one another unblinkingly.

Finally, after what must have been at least a three minute wait, Crystal nodded slightly, smiled, and said, “OKay.” And this time she didn’t bother to turn around, but slid her bottoms down while facing us. Gretchen slipped her baggy panties off right along with her. They both stood for a moment, as if each was studying the other’s feminine attributes.

Then in a bound they were off, swimming the length of that pool and back, again and yet again. They were like two golden seals barreling through that mountain stream, diving over and under the surface as they flashed by, leaving streams of bubbles trailing in their wake.

Earlier in this drama I had climbed a large rock covered with moss down which water was streaming into the pool. I had been trying to inspire the others to go in, and it had been a fun slide, but at the time no others had been inspired to follow suit.

However, to our eternal surprise, at one point Crystal abandoned her streaking with Gretchen long enough to climb to the top of that moss-covered rock, and then seating herself on the moss, she opened her legs and took off, proceeding to slide down the rock and into the pool below with a splash. Once down she tried to talk Gretchen into doing likewise, but though it obviously had been fun for Crystal, for whatever reason Gretchen would not give it a try.

A few minutes more of zipping through that mountain stream, and the two girls suddenly seemed to run out of steam, stopping all forward motion, and a minute later they were seated in the bright sunlight drying off, in full sight and in deep conversation with the three non swimmers. All three of the non swimmers seemed to have a continuing interest in the two bare 11 year olds. In fact they had a longer conversation with those non swimmers than they had probably had the entire summer, and both had been dry for well over 10 minutes when at almost the same moment they seemed to suddenly take note of their lack of dress, shrugged, and got up to find their clothes and once again get themselves dressed. Shortly thereafter when we finished our climb down the mountain, there were three of us who were refreshed. §

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And so we come to the end of yet another Little Eddy Blog. This edition turns out to be a meaningful one, for if we fail to appear with a new edition next week, now you’ll know why. My iMac fell asleep and failed to wake up. Hopefully that won’t happen for awhile, though, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

We would like to leave you this week with a link to Paul Krugman's latest N.Y. Times blog which can be found here! He remarks how In the short run, Republican extremism may be good for Democrats, to the extent that it prompts a voter backlash. But in the long run, it’s a very bad thing for America. We need to have two reasonable, rational parties in this country. And right now we don’t.

A thought for this week. Loons are a majestic sight when seen in the wild, swimming in circles on a moonlit lake. Only their wild cry gives their mental state away. On the radio loons lack the majesty, but manage to retain their looniness.

Join us again anytime next week, my iMac willing, for yet another edition of Little Eddy’s Blog. We post on Saturday mornings at around 8 am CDT. And we stay in place until the following Saturday. Meantime have a good week. And we’ll see you next week.

The Real Little Eddy §

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