Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 @ $WORK (...and $HOME)

Anyone who knows me knows I am an open-source Linux advocate from way back.  And they know I drank the Google Koolade early.  So here I am writing in a Chrome browser running in Linux about ... wait for it ... Microsoft Windows 10.  There I said it.

Turns out Windows 10 is great.

As the Manager of Information Systems here at $WORK I have maintained a love/hate relationship with Windows for the last 20+ years.  Beginning with Windows 3, then 3.1 and 3.11 and engineers wanting me to explain why their system crashed when they lost all there work.  I managed to skip over the ME and CE and went to NT.  Somewhere in there was Win 95, XP, Vista (didn't even try it), Win 7, 8, 8.1 which I campaigned but wasn't comfortable with.  Now its the last Windows you will ever use, 10.  Or so they claim.

From a $WORK perspective where we are still trying to kill off our last XP box, Win 7 is the standard.  Trying to be forward looking I worked in 8 and 8.1.  As a "Microsoft Insider" I started with Windows 10 as soon as they made the first betas available.  From that day to this I am convinced the next migration will be directly to 10.  No muddling through 8 anything.

As for $HOME my wife's Windows 8.1 was already beginning to show signs of windows rot.  Somewhere in the last couple of months it lost track of the CD/DVD drive.  When she went to use a DVD application she was sorely disappointed.  I tried a full compliment of disable/enable, delete device|scan for new devices, update driver, etc.  No love, no CD/DVD drive.

That came to light last week.  Frustrated, I told her to hang tough for the Windows 10 roll-out.  Last Thursday morning I brought her PC to work (we have a fat internet pipe).  In less than 2 hours Windows 10 was loaded (officially reads "Upgraded").  Everything just worked.  All of her ancient legacy apps ... and the CD/DVD drive.  I got big smiles when I took it home and set it back up for her.

Yeah, there are a few quirks.  Settings are a bit different.  But all in all Windows 10 is great.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Great minds...sure wish I had one.

Frank Paynter over at Listics Review is rousing the rabble...again.  Never one to let sleeping dogs lay he says, "I'm beginning to notice some improvement".  Making the audacious claim that writing blog posts might afford some noticeable improvement.  Yeah, well, maybe for you, Frank.  I can find little hope in my scribbling ever making any improvement in my unremarkable writing ability.

What struck a chord, a harmonic I have heard in other quarters, is the need to reassert our bloggishness.  To re-establish the community of scribes.  Something that I lost while "liking" Facebook memes and trying to read Twitter at the speed of #hashtags.  Lost were the developed thoughts, filled in and fleshed out.  The true discourse of rational minds.  (Wish I had one of those as well.)

Mind you this should not be a scripted conversation between like-minded people.  This should be a return to the Wild-West-Internet days of yore.  Folks finding their one forum, a place where they can blow their own tuba.  A place for intellectual exchange and sophomoric syllogisms soliloquies ...oh hell, just anything you really need to get 'writ down'.

So, if you don't mind, I won't mind if you don't read this.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"The more liberty you give away...'

"The more liberty you give away the more you will have."

This quote, attributed to Robert G. Ingersoll, made me feel uncomfortable upon first reading.  In this day of Big Government, Big Brother and seeming involuntary relinquishment of personal rights and freedoms the very thought of 'giving away liberties' appeared as the clarion call of disaster.  As one of those Quote of the Day emails I let it sit in my inbox while I mulled over my discomfort.

On the surface this quote has the air of nobility.  Perhaps Ingersoll was alluding to a "Greater Good" doctrine.  Perhaps by relinquishing my person liberty it was some how contributing to society's liberty.  Still, I felt disconnected.  Something just was not right.  So I sought out to further understand Ingersoll's possible intent.  I came upon the following quote.

"Liberty is my religion. Liberty of hand and brain — of thought and labor, liberty is a word hated by kings — loathed by popes. It is a word that shatters thrones and altars — that leaves the crowned without subjects, and the outstretched hand of superstition without alms. Liberty is the blossom and fruit of justice — the perfume of mercy. Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy."

When I read this quote I learned two things.  It became clear that Ingersoll is a very staunch advocate of personal responsibility.  He calls upon himself with "hand and brain - of thought and labor" to break the bonds of intellectual and spiritual tyranny.  He raises Liberty as the pinnacle of personal self worth.

Still the thought of giving away Liberty was unsettling to me.  It was until I changed my perspective as a reader.  If, as a follower, I gave up something on the promise of receiving more it fell right in line with the criticism leveled at Big Government/Big Brother.  If I, as a leader, gave more liberty away, aiding in the breaking of intellectual and spiritual bonds, then as a society we indeed would become freer.

Good on ya, Bob

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Center Lovell Inn, only in my dreams.

Center Lovell Inn

It is not for sale.  For an essay and $125.00 you might realize a dream.  Sadly, I do not have $125.00.

Here is my essay...

I have been to the Center Lovell Inn in my dreams. Not as a guest but as a servant and Shepard. There I am charged with the responsibility of keeping tradition alive. Here to serve the simplest of amenities. Offering warm welcome. Making comfortable the real guests. Insuring that each need is met. Fulfilling the promise of elegant escape and succulent repast.

I am called to the smallest of details. Properly turned down crisp linens. The freshest local fruits and vegetables. Engaging in rich conversations. The offer of uninterrupted silent reflections. Sparkles of porcelain and chrome. A warming fire upon the hearth. Setting the simple table, offering the feast. Leaving one light lit as a sign of welcome to the weary traveler. Being home.

Though I serve it is I who am given the gifts. Treated to the smiles of satisfaction. Shared memories fondly recounted and newly minted ones, soon to be cherished. The gifts of traveler's tales, what brought them here and where they will be lead. To be part of the adventure.

I will probably never have the opportunity or privilege to serve and to Shepard. Only in my dreams have I been to the Center Lovell Inn.

Friday, January 30, 2015

I just gave Starbucks... (with corrections)

I just gave Starbucks... a bunch of some money.

Each time I would go to Starbucks and get my favorite Mocha Latte.  Each time I would lament throwing the cup, lid and cozy away.  Great beverage but a shame to just throw the cup away.  So I watched and waited until my local Starbucks again offered their very affordable ($1.00) reusable cups.  I bought two knowing that I would need one to use and have a spare.

As I was purchasing the reusable cups I went ahead and asked the barista to fill one with my Mocha Latte.  Mmmmm, mocha goodness.

A few minutes down the road it came to me.  Starbucks, offering reusable cups, had engaged me in a great marketing scheme.  First, if I used my cup then they didn't have to use one of their cups.  This might seem like a very small matter but the economy-of-scale rule became apparent.  Their profit margin just increased a fraction because they charged me the same price as a "Venti" beverage and did not incur the cost of the cup.  While my single transaction might be the one half (or even one tenth) of one percent increase in their margin when multiplied by the bajillion cups they sell now we are talking real money, a bunch of money.  Correction: I received a $0.10 discount for bringing my own cup.

I took another sip of my tasty beverage...and the second part of their great marketing scheme became clear.  The reusable cup was modelled after their "Venti" cup.  By asking the barista to fill it with Mocha Latte I was automatically ordering the "Venti" size beverage.  Chaching!  Correction: It appears that this morning I was charged for a "Grande" and not a "Venti".

So I am pleased that I am not throwing cups and lids and cozys away.  Instead I am just giving Starbucks a bunch of some money.

Great marketing guys and I really like your Mocha Lattes.

Church, cheaper than...

On the silly sayings sign of a local church it read, "Church, cheaper than NFL tickets."

While I recognized the pastor's intent it gave me pause to reflect on the real value of Church.  Or more precisely the lack of value of Church.  Where, in my humble opinion, Church should be invaluable.  Now it is being reduced to an amount less than the exorbitant cost of Super Bowl tickets.

I can hear the greeters/scalpers now.  "I can get you in the forth row aisle for $449 or up in the nosebleed section for just $225."

On a monetary scale Church is cheaper than everything.

Church is free.  A gift freely given.  Sometimes it is referred to as Sanctuary.  A place to be exactly who and what you are.  A place of Peace and Reverence.  A place of Solace.  A place of Celebration.  A place of Nourishment.  A place of Community.  Church is a place to be Free.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Resolution: Cod Chowder

I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions.  I know better.

I am making Cod Chowder.

In the crock pot, of course.  Which means that cooking starts early in the morning.  This seems so antithetical to the cooking dinner/supper just prior to eating same.  Here it is 7:30ish (AM) and the house if filled with the perfume of sauteed onions and garlic.  But I digress...

Here's how it all started...

I use a smaller crock pot.  Maybe its 2-quart, maybe just a bit more.

Now, did I mention crock pot liners?  Best thing since sliced bread or parchment paper.  (Tip: Put the box of liners in the clean crock pot before you put it away - help you to remember how glad you have them the next time you use the crock.)

So very simple...

1 can of sweet corn, drained (If I were making Corn Chowder I wouldn't even drain it.)
4 smaller carrots cut in 1/4 inch rounds.

Goes right in the crock...

3/4 cup diced onion, set aside for the moment.

6-7 Yukon Gold mini potatoes, quartered and then cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Rinse and dry the slices.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to shimmering (very hot)

Quickly brown the potatoes, just until they begin to show some caramel coloring, 2-3 minutes, tops.  As soon as they show add them to the carrots and corn in the crock.

In the same skillet melt two tablespoons of butter and sweat the diced onions with some garlic.  When they start to become translucent sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of flour.  (I prefer Gold Medal Wondra for roux, but then I cheat at Pinochle too.  Oh!  Did I say that out loud.  Sorry.)

When the roux begins to color, beige approaching light tan, add 1 and 1/2 half pints of Half&Half.  Mix thoroughly and bring slowly, slowly to full bloom - this is just when the contents of the pan seems to instantly double in volume - immediately remove from the heat and add to the crock.

Set the crock to "Low" and mix the contents to insure even distribution.  Now wait.  How long?  I can't tell you.  You just have to wait.  My best guesstimation is 3-4 hours until the carrots are fully cooked.

Remember, if you get ahead of your meal schedule just turn the crock to "Keep Warm" and ... wait.

But don't wait forever.  There is still the Codfish.

I try to get the freshest possible seafood but here in the wilds of western Kentucky the only thing that you can really depend on is Catfish.  Everything else comes in from somewhere else.  If we aren't eating it that day in goes into the freezer.

About 45 - 60 minutes before meal time take the partially/mostly thawed Cod and rinse it vigorously under cold running water.  Then pat the fillet(s) as dry as possible.  Cut them into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes

Fold the Cod cubes into the soup stock (and don't forget to turn the crock back to "Low")

Occasionally gently fold the soup (do not stir - you don't want to break the Cod into small pieces.)

When you think things have gone long enough sample for done-ness.  The Cod should be firm and the carrots about the same.

Carefully ladle hot steaming Cod Chowder into bowls and garnish with chopped chive or green onions (some people call 'em Scallions, you know what I mean Joe?)


(Pictures to follow.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I still listen to radio...sorta

I still listen to radio, after a fashion.

When my commute was about 30 minutes, from home to work, it was NPR.  Plain and simple.  A good dose of the news and Morning Edition features.  I could depend on engaging banter from Steve Inskeep and Renee Montaigne.  Even the curmudgeon views of Frank DeForge were enlightening. Then a strange thing happened.

My early morning "commute" changed from work to the gym.  So my first half hour was from 0430 to just before 0500.  All is right with the world...and NPR.  Then when I get out of the gym and head to work at 0630 things begin to unravel.  NPR is repeating itself word for word from 0430.  Its like de ja news all over again.

So my alternative go to radio station is WKWC ... Kentucky Wesleyan College radio.  This turns out to be a gem.  Progressive, non-repetitive, commercial free (OK, there are a few PSAs and KWC promos) - just good ear candy.  So good in fact that I have taken to tuning in even when I know NPR is not repeating itself.

. . .