Monday, October 29, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Or: Some People Never Learn

Several years ago I gave my folks my old computer when I upgraded. They were happy to have a computer with Windows 95 and a modem. They got set up for email. And I got called every time my mother or father could not figure out the simplest of things. It was annoying. More annoying were the calls for the non-simple things. I am not a geek. I am, however, occasionally lucky.

Eventually they got into their groove with the computer. I did get calls about their spam (sorry, can't help) and life went on. Then they got sick of spam, their monitor (they thought) was going out and they discontinued their internet service and rarely used the POS computer. And it was MY FAULT for giving them a POS that they were thrilled to get when they got it. Whatever.

Fast forward to this summer when a friend who works in IT at a Big Company told me they were upgrading and did I know anyone who wanted a computer with XP for $50. Sure, I said, and made the mistake of mentioning it to my folks. Mom wouldn't commit until Dad agreed to the $50 upgrade. I don't know why. All the money is hers. Whatever.

Dad had decided hell, yeah, he wanted a $50 computer. Then I was hounded about when it was coming. And oh, he NEEDED a new monitor, too. So I put out feelers and found, free of charge, (except for my free labor) a good used monitor.

Eventually, computer and monitor, time and opportunity all came together and I went to my folks to install the new system.

In my parent's eyes, being able to hook up the right connectors and plug in all the plugs on a desktop system qualifies one for geekdom. I was ready to ride in on my white horse (dark red Subaru), fulfill my duties and fade into the sunset victorious.

First: take out the old system. No prob! A big brother was there and my dad was waving his arms declaring it all JUNK so big bro hauled it out to a junk pile.

Second: install the new system. No prob! Except.... Dad wanted the tower on the desk next to the monitor so he didn't have to go through all the trouble of leaning over to push the button on the tower to turn it on. Fine. Only it didn't fit.

No prob! Get big brother to saw away at the bracing facing piece on the desk. Repeatedly. Until the tower fit. Very, very snugly. It made hooking up all the peripherals much more difficult (Mom, can you feed that cord up through that and find my hand?) but as long as Dad was happy....

Everything got hooked up but the phone line. One last thing and --- no dial-up modem. Of course not! This was a corporate computer! So big bro, could you bring the old tower (with the dial-up modem) in off the junk pile before it rains?

Their new system was humming nicely. Dad was happy to have the Microsoft games plus two Hoyle game systems I'd loaded on the machine. After everything was done, Dad said, "What about our pictures on the old computer?"

(Insert internal screaming and vile, vile swear words here.)

I took their old tower home. I hooked it up to my monitor and discovered it was NOT their monitor that was the problem, it was their video card. With freaky things appearing on my monitor I saved all their pictures and email addresses (and not without drama, either -- the cd burner didn't work and I had to unhook their system and hook up mine to save stuff on the only USB drive their computer would recognize, clean it, rehook up their tower to save their stuff to the newly clean USB - insert more screaming and swearing).

That done, I took the damn tower apart and pulled out the modem. I found a driver online and downloaded it and saved it to the USB. I went back to my folks and installed the new (old) modem and driver. My mother was SOOOOO impressed.

And then they started talking and thought that they would rather have the DSL.

(Insert more screaming and swearing, screaming and swearing.)

But, because their phone lines are shit, they may not be able to get DSL so maybe my efforts were not in vain.

They still haven't gotten around to getting any internet service, what with my dad's bypass surgery and all. Not that that's the end of "no good deed".

There is no sound on their computer. Not that they listen to music on their computer. My dad needs sound when he plays pinball.

I checked it out the day I delivered lasagna and as near as I can tell (did I tell you I AM NOT A GEEK?) it is the sound card.

(Insert more screaming and swearing, screaming and swearing.)

Good thing I still have their old tower. Which I took apart tonight and removed the sound card.


Now I have to go searching for a driver.

Man's Best Friend My Ass

I read this story in the Des Moines Register this morning but lifted this from channel 8's website because I could not for the life of me find it on the Register's online site.

TAMA, Iowa -- A Tama man was injured when hunting dogs stepped on his gun.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said James Harris, 37, was pheasant hunting with a group about three miles north of Grinnell when the accident happened.

Officials said the group had shot a bird and when Harris went to retrieve it, he put his gun on the ground and crossed a fence. As he crossed the fence, hunting dogs stepped on his gun causing it to fire.

Harris was shot in the lower left leg.

He was treated at Grinnell Medical Center and later transferred by helicopter to University Hospitals in Iowa City. His condition has not been released.

The investigation is continuing.

Perhaps the pooches were perturbed at parading around in orange vests.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Color of the Day

A loud bang this morning reminded me of what day it was. Actually Captain Crab beat my faulty memory to the punch. It is in some circles the most revered of days. In other circles (mine) it is the most dreaded. Today is the opening of pheasant season.

PJ does not approve.

I took a pan of lasagna to my folks. I couldn't go a mile without seeing several trucks parked at the side of the road or out in the fields. The men were decked out in orange, hunting in packs, like wolves. Wolves with cell phones and GPS. People I met on the road were dressed in orange. A guy in a minivan (not the type of vehicle associated with such manly activity) was dressed in orange. I saw a dog wearing an orange vest, too, but didn't get his picture.

Men in orange.

Over the river and through the woods to mother's house I went. I arrived without being mistaken for a pheasant.

Over the river and through the woods.

My dad had bypass surgery last week. He's doing well, I guess. He is pretty content to be home and NOT have visitors so I didn't stay long.

Not everyone is hunting today. Some farmers are still in the fields combining corn. And then there are the people who have to deal with all that corn once it's out of the field. So add yellow to the color of the day.

Too much corn!.

Mountains of corn!

Corn fountain.

At night when it's not cloudy, the harvest moon has been showing its orange face, now pale in the daylight.

Shine on, harvest moon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Whatcha Got Cooking?

Me, I made lasagna. It's something I tackle once every couple of years or so because it is so labor intensive and so very messy.

Every time I make it I get confused. How do the layers go? I have it written down on my recipe but I do not trust it. So I did an internet search and discovered different layering techniques in different recipes. HUH?

I put the noodles on to boil and then read the box. They were no-cook noodles. So I shut the burner off and let them soak in hot water for a while. And then I wondered if I should use runnier sauce and half cooked noodles. How runny should the sauce be? Or should I just let the sauce thicken and the noodles cook? This box had a layering technique listed on the back but no recipe indicating how runny the sauce should be.

I decided just to wing it. I assembled an 8x8 pan for me and Captain Crab and a bread loaf pan for my parents. I ended up with a whole lot of cheese sauce and noodles left over. And I had to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the meat sauce to fit two little pans. What's up with that?

And in a couple of years when I make lasagna again, I will be walking down the same road, not trusting the signposts and stumbling along.

But right now I have one big mess to clean up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fungus Among Us

The old ash tree in the yard had a surprise for me this morning. Up in the branches was this:

And at the base of the tree was this:

How it looks close up:

This particular fungus has appeared on this tree before. But never 3 at once. They are quite beautiful in a weird sort of way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Whimsical Weekend

I went to a magical place called Possum Lodge.

Possum Lodge sign

Possum Lodge

A dog named Lily lives there. She didn't really want to have her picture taken.

Shy Lily
Lily the tour guide

She was camera shy but quite an animated tour guide. She showed me a hand-made canoe that was a showcase of wonderment.

It has a duck head bow. With feathers!

Duck head! Feathers!

Out in the garden a gnome named Hermann was trying to drive away in a tractor.

Hermann the Gnome

A palm tree shades the patio. In Iowa! In October!

Palm tree in Iowa

I left Lily in the land of whimsy and headed back to real Iowa where farmers were busy in the fields. This combine had a big American flag mounted on it. Alas and alack, the magic was gone. The flag refused to show its face. Or maybe it was the fact that I was driving down the road at the time and lucky to even get the combine in the frame.

American Combine

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About But Haven't

Commercials I Hate Because They Are So Stupid

  • The Burger King kung-fu chicken commercial.
  • Domino's Oreo dessert pizza with the beard growing contest.
  • Any Wendy's commercial with the guy wearing the red pig-tailed wig.
  • Any commercial that takes a song from the 60's or 70's.

Products That I Like That No Longer Exist or Have Been "Improved" to the Point of Uselessness
There are too many too list. Charmin took one product I liked and turned it into two products I hate. Where is Secret Solid Unscented? Zact toothpaste? The jeans that fit me?

Life With Captain Crab
While he is chasing the Dread Pirate Roberts and making a name for himself in the world of sea-faring legends, I am in a porthole-less galley whipping up MLT's for the crew.

The Country Formerly Known as Burma
Is this like the artist formerly known as Prince? Every news report refers to "Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma". I think we have it figured out now, thanks. Though I would appreciate any help you can give me regarding the names of any countries that were in the former USSR, including pronunciation and location. I am still stuck on Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, two countries I traveled through which no longer exist.

The Infiltration of Political Candidates in Iowa
They equal the number of hogs in the state. It's hard to know who is who, just like the generic cookie-cutter pigs raised in giant confinement facilities.

Corporations and Health Care
It's a nest of eels. It's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, especially if you listen to the political candidates who want everyone to turn over their incomes to a corporation who will then "take care of your health".

Outsourcing and the Government
The government has joined the corporate bandwagon and is outsourcing military forces. Be very afraid.

The Current Administration
Don't get me started.