Friday, January 28, 2011

Super Bowl What?

A week from Sunday, a good portion of America will pop the top on about a million cans of beer, eat enough artery clogging barbeque to stop the heart of a lion, and tune in Super Bowl XLV. Quick now, how many Super Bowls will that be? XLV, hmmm. Please tell me what genius decided to use Roman Numerals to count the Super Bowls? Whoever he is should be stoned to death on the fifty yard line.

What’s wrong with using the numbers that we’ve known since first grade? The only places I know of that still use Roman Numerals are crossword puzzles (Cato’s 154) and grandfather clocks, and even the clocks screw it up. Note that the number 4 is represented by IIII instead of the traditional IV. Why? Because someone thought that it made a better visual symmetry with the VIII on the other side of the face. Whassup with that? When did we start changing the numbers to make them look better?

“Hey, how about we take the number 8 and turn it on its side instead of it sticking straight up in the air like some sort of totem pole?”

“Dude, that is so totally awesome. I love the symmetry. Go for it!”

Roman Numerals come from Ancient Rome for pity sakes. What’s wrong with Modern Rome? Furthermore, Wikipedia tells us that Roman Numerals are a cousin to the Estruscan Numerals and that might explain the weirdness of it as we all know what crazy bastards the Etruscans were.

All right, let’s figure it out; X=10, L=50, and V=5. Logically you would add them all together and Super Bowl XLV would be game number 65, correct? Wrong Pigskin Breath. And speaking of logic, how about XXXX-V? Four tens and a five. Make sense? Nope, won’t do. Instead we are forced to do the math. Since the L is to the right of the X, and L means 50, that would make it…uh, hold on. Oh crap, who knows? You see how ridiculous this is? Imagine Ancient Rome when Artorius asks a gal at the Coliseum,

“Hey Baby, can I have your number?”

“Sure, it’s VVV-MMXI.”

Poor guy never did hook up.

Enough. Don’t forget the game, February VI.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dream On

Have you ever noticed how your dreams are soooo much more fascinating and entertaining than anyone else’s? I don’t know about you, but when the Missus starts in with “I had the weirdest dream last night,” she loses me somewhere about the time she couldn’t find her shoes and “It was so frustrating and then I woke up.” Oh yeah, that was a dandy all right. No wonder you’re afraid to fall asleep.

Let’s face it, no one else can match your dreams right? After all, yours are tense, terrifying, dramatic, wild, sometimes sexy, not to mention just plain weird. Am I close? How about the one where you dreamed you were in this crowd and you just had to go to the bathroom and when you woke up, you really did have to go and you barely made it! True, some of your more insensitive friends and relatives might not feel the intensity of your experiences in the Land of Nod. Some might possibly go so far as to act disinterested, but pay them no heed; you know a good dream when you have it.

Don’t forget the one where you’re in this dark room and know, simply know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that someone or something is in that room with you. And if you could find that damn light switch you could at least see what it was but nooo. You flail around in the darkness, hands in front of you, searching, probing, and then you touch…IT! Oh yeah, now we're talking dreams.

Then there are the reoccurring dreams…and they’re never the good dreams are they? What’s up with that? Only the bad ones have reruns, the ones where you yell out or you think you’re yelling (in fact it was only a squeak) but they scare the bejesus out of you and you seriously think about getting up and watching TV until morning, one of those forget that crap, I’m not going through that again dreams.

For years and probably at least once a month, I had a dream about finding a dead cow. The location of the dead cow changed from dream to dream. After all, you never know where you’ll find a dead cow. But for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a logical reason to be having such a dream again and again. Then one day, a friend and I were talking about our boyhood experiences, one of which was the time I had run across what I thought was an abandoned truck at the town dump. Kids being kids, I climbed up one of the side walls and took a look in the back. You already know what was there. Yep, dead cow. Thing is, once I remembered where the dream probably came from, that was the last of it, no more deceased bovines.

Wait, where you going? This was a fascinating dream. Come back here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

State of the Cats

President Obama may have his State of the Union speech, but on the local level,  the State of the Cats is just as important.  It's been awhile since we last talked about the cats and there have been some changes around here, subtle yes, and probably invisible to the casual observer, but changes none-the-less. 

For one thing, the al-Quida cat, aka Yella, has given up his title as chief terrorist of the neighborhood. Yella, or Old Yella as we call him now, has definitely gotten long in the tooth,  losing weight, and is quite satisfied to sit on the back porch and leave the wildlife in peace. Old Yella has a slow cancerous growth near one eye that causes the area around it to get red and puffy.  Highly expensive surgery was an option but with his age and our budget, that wasn't gonna happen.  Eye drops are working fairly well to keep the swelling down and Yella doesn't seem to let it bother him too much.  Yella is a tough old cat.

Then there's Brat Cat, the problem child.  What weight Yella lost, Brat Cat found, and is now beginning to look a lot like a typical Wal-Mart shopper.  Brat is a stalker of birds and getting very good at it.  Using the tiniest bit of cover, she lies in wait for anything that flutters, the bird bath being her favorite haunt.  Believe me, that cat can blend into the winter leaves better than a African lion on the Savannah. I have chased her from the bird feeding area at least  5000 times, no really, I have; all the while yelling, shouting, and uttering obscenities so loud that I'm sure the neighbors think they're living next to someone with Tourette syndrome. But it doesn't help. Same problem, every day. Lately, we have reached an agreement of sorts; I promise not to yell and throw things if she voluntarily walks away when she sees me at the door. Brat Cat and I are a lot like North and South Korea. She conducts her feline stalking exercises right under my nose and I threatern her with weapons of mass destruction.

The gray cat named Blue is still here but on shaky ground.  During the past couple weeks, and on more than one occasion, Blue has failed to use the litter box for doing her  #1, not #2 thank goodness, but it's still an intolerable situation. Blue is currently being held in medical isolation for an unknown period of time.  Of course, most of the readers here know what my solution to this is but then you also know the Missus. Let's just not go there for now.

Lastly there is Minnie le Mew. Minnie has become a lady of leisure, perfectly content to lie around the house and purr her ass off.  The declawing process worked wonders.  No only does she not destroy the furniture, she has developed an entirely new personality. Her days of fang and fury have disappeared, replaced by love and slobbery licks. In fact, she has become Brat Cat's sparring partner.  They both ambush, pounce, and tussle, but without the blood.

In summary, the State of the Cats here at the humble abode, is about like the State of the People .  All of us are aging, becoming more tolerant, and perfectly willing  to let bygones be bygones. Live and let live is the order of the day.  Except for Brat and the birds.  There's that.

And may God Bless America.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lost in Literary Land

As hard as it is to believe, I have been asked why I haven't gotten my so called novel, No Refuge, published other than as an e-book.  The short answer is that I have no clue how to go about doing that other than cold calling some publisher and saying something like "Hi there, you don't know me but I've written this novel and...bzzzz." (conversation terminated by dial tone.) The Internet is of little help. Type in getting published and dozens of sites pop up, all wanting your money. I needed advice from an independent party, a real author, maybe one on the NYT best sellers list.  Back to Google where I entered writer's blogs.  On the third site, I found what I was looking for.  A young woman who had written three novels, was published, and was willing to share her experiences with us wannabes.

What I learned , and as I feared, was not encouraging.  The writer likened the chances of seeing your book in Wal-Mart were about the same as seeing your name on a movie screen. Apparently the number of aspiring writers out there is astronomical. I got my first hint of this as I attempted to upload No Refuge to a web site that claims to be a distributor of e-books. Allegedly, this site  formats your little work of art for use to well known sellers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple. They take a cut for their trouble and you get the rest of whatever sales result. I might add that their cut at this particular point in time is zero. But what was so discouraging about the process was when I clicked the upload icon, a message appeared to say that I was number 359 in the queue. THREE FIFTY NINE? You mean there were 359 other wannabe writers in front of me?  Yes Virginia, it was true. After a modification to the text, I uploaded again. This time there only 89 people ahead of me. Think about that for a moment. If we could make the modest assumption that if 400 books were uploaded to this site a day, we're talking 146,000 books a year. Combine that with the recent statistic that less than half the adult U.S. population has read a book since high school, and you begin to get some idea of the competition.

One thing I know. Even in the face of those numbers, a sure way to never get published is quit trying. Not gonna happen.  Most writers agree that their second novel was far better than their first so that's what I'm working on now.  It's about a teenage girl that wakes up in a storm cellar with a locked door and no food or water.  Sheriff Lester P. Morrison from No Refuge gets a report of a missing girl and it goes from there. The clock is ticking.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wow. A Photo Contest!

Astute readers of this little blog will no doubt remember a previous entry describing my problems of getting a trail map from the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation and the OWPHA, the Oklahoma Wildlife and Prairie Heritage Association. . A classic failure to communicate.

But on Friday, my mailbox was blessed with a plain brown envelope bearing the return address of the above parties.  Keeping in mind the explosive mail that Homeland Security and other official offices have received lately, I opened it with utmost caution as my relationship with the sender has been testy at best.  There were no incendiaries, only the promised map and a half dozen business card sized "collector's" photos depicting wildlife in Oklahoma; Road Runner, Prairie Chicken, and American Avocet to name a few.  Well, isn't that special?

The enclosure that caught my eye though, was the announcement of an upcoming photo contest sponsored by the OWPHA.  I love photo contests and have had reasonably good luck with them in the past. My top two prizes being a round trip to Seattle, WA, hotel and car rental included, and the granddaddy prize of all, a brand new 47 inch high definition television set. Eagerly, I went to the website to see the rules of entry. There were several areas of competition; wildlife (oh boy), landscapes (I'm ready for that one too), Old Buildings (maybe) and Events representing prairie heritage (nope, not for me). Prizes? What were the prizes? Cash? Gift Certificates? A trip to the Bahamas? No, not exactly. I will list the prizes for you, dear reader, by the cut and paste method directly from the website.


 A first and second place ribbon will be awarded in each category and division.

A RIBBON? A FREAKIN' RIBBON? YOU GOTTA BE S------G ME! Let me understand, you people want photographers to travel all over Oklahoma, using their own car and gas, the skills they have honed with years of experience, using the equipment they have scrimped and saved for over a lifetime, make a print (being sure to put our name and address on the back), send it to you with our own postage, and breathlessly await for a judging from someone who's never taken a good photo during their miserable existence on this planet, to award the winner A RIBBON? IS THAT ABOUT RIGHT? DO I HAVE THE PICTURE?

Did I mention that all photos become the property of OWPHA to be used in any type of advertising they see fit with absolutely no compensation to the photographer? Such a deal! Upon further review of the "collector's" photos I received, not one had so much as a credit for what I'm sure were donated images. Gee.

Unfortunately, this so called "contest" like so many others that come along, is nothing more than a scam to collect quality photos for free. On the other hand, Outdoor Oklahoma, a publication by the Wildlife Department, pays well for the photos they use in the magazine, above average in fact. Go figure.

Thing is, if I get another package in the mail from the OWPHA, I'm calling Homeland Security.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Logical: NOT

For most of my adult life, I made my living working on communications devices, electrical stuff, some mechanical, but mostly repairing things that moved electronic signals from point A to point B; 2-way radios, walkie-talkies, point to  point microwave, things like that. Once you got the theory of electronics in your head, it made sense.  Even though the movement of gillions of little electrons racing around a circuit board could be puzzling to figure out, it was logical. If a signal goes in one end of a box and doesn't come out the other, by logic, the trouble is in the box. Well, most of the time. There are exceptions, the most common being the home computer. Computers are not, repeat, not, logical. My most recent event with this invention of the devil is a good example.

It started when a friend sent me a link via e-mail to a tutorial featuring a neat trick with Photoshop. But when I clicked the link, a message popped up saying I needed the latest version of something called Real Player to view the video. I hate downloading new stuff to my computer.  Illogical things happen. Sure enough, Real Player downloaded and installed just fine but, and there's always one of those buts, a new little icon pops up on my desktop, Google Chrome it says. If there was a check mark to omit Google Chrome from the Real Player download, it had gotten past me. Google Chrome, for the uninitiated, is a browser allegedly faster and better than Internet Explorer, but I wanted none of it. As I said, I detest making changes in the computer, bad things happen. That's why I was so pleased to see an "un-install" option when I clicked the icon. In a matter of seconds, Zap, it was gone.

The next day I get a complaint from the Missus that she can no longer click on a link in e-mail. All she gets is a message that says something like "This computer is not authorized to go there" or something to that effect. I immediately put in a call to son Mark, my personal computer guru. Mark loves it when I call him when he's in the middle of a huge corporate computer problem where the company is losing money by the minute, to cry about my own insignificant electronic miseries. "I got to call you back," he says. End of conversation.

Undeterred, I copy and paste the offending message into Google Search for a look around. Surely someone has seen this problem before.  Yes, there it was at the top of the list, my exact problem. The remedy, it said, was to go into the computer's registry and make some changes. Hmmm. I vaguely recalled Mark warning me to never, never go in to the registry. "It's not for the faint of heart," was his quote. Actually, I'm not at all sure what the "registry" is but it sounds foreboding. Like maybe a place where all the sinners of the world are tracked and filed. But the solution seemed so simple, a click here, a click there, replace that with this, and your problems are over. Hey, I"m a fixer guy. I understand logical things. What could possibly go wrong?

Brimming with confidence, I ignored  Mark's warning, and typed in the changes to "fix" the  registry.  I ain't skeered.

 Basically, the registry bit me in the ass.

The original warning flag had disappeared only to be replaced by another one, "You stupid SOB, what have you done?" or words to that effect. I tried e-mailing Mark with the subject of the mail being a single word in all caps: PANIC. Time passed with no reply. Damn kids got no sympathy for old people anymore.

Desperate, I decided to copy and paste the new warning into Google Search. Sure nuff, another solution, this time something to do with Internet Options. Click, click, click and Thank You Jesus, the warning flags waved bye-bye and all was normal. How had everything gotten so screwed up with a simple download?  It made no sense. Definitely not logical.