Here’s some insanity for you…

Yesterday, while working in my back yard, my hearing aid fell out of my ear and dropped to the ground.  I (among others) spent around three hours searching for it with no luck.  Today, I called the VA for a replacement.

Here’s how our tax dollars are spent:

The VA will not give me a new set of hearing aids without a complete physical.  That, in itself, isn’t too bad because at my age you can’t get too many physicals BUT instead of picking up the phone and requesting the pertinent records be faxed over from the hospital at Wright-Patterson (I had a physical four moths ago), the VA requires that THEY do all the work – which effectively duplicates every bit of work already done.

The VA is always yammering about “how crowded they are” and “how they can’t possibly deal with all the veterans who apply” so why in hell do they ‘require’ someone who already has a complete medical history to come all the way across town and get yet another physical workup at their hospital?  I have no idea how much time, effort, and money is spent doing this, but it certainly could be eliminated with a simple phone call and a facsimile machine.

So, here’s how things stand:

1) I have to wait until the 10th of September for the physical (in the AM) and a new hearing test (in the PM — which I could use since my last one was three years ago for renewal of my disability)

2) In the interval, I will have to go back to reading lips to understand completely what everyone is saying since I only have one hearing aid.

3) Last time (when I broke one of hearing aids by stepping on it when IT fell out of my ear) it took a grand total of two weeks to replace it.  Now, apparently, the VA has had “updated procedures” they have to follow that were dictated by the head bureaucrat-in-charge-of-government-spending-of-our-tax-dollars.

Talk about government boondoggles, this one is the boondoggliest.

 

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A new novel started over on Booksie.com

Just finished posting Chapter 1 of a new novel/short story/novelette or whatever you’d call it.  It’s a departure from my last one only in that I’ve added a little spice to it.  The rating system at Booksie is a bit vague, so I marked it PG or Mature; mostly for the language and such.

Still the same general theme, but this time it takes place in a mountain cabin in Colorado.  Two people, who were maintained a ‘just friends’ relationship find that they were really only deceiving themselves and let love blossom.  Yeah, I know – kinda corny.  But, what the heck, I’m kind of a corny guy.

Yesterday (the 5th) I lurched over into my seventh decade of life.  Yup, that’s right – I turned 70.  Several forums I participate in have Happy Birthday threads running.  It is heartwarming to find that I do indeed have a number of friends that, even thought we’ve never met, treat me like very a close friend.  I like that very much.

My sister, Penny, is still sending me really funny stuff, but I’ve been tied up with all sorts of things going on and just haven’t found the time to post any of it.  I’ll try to get some of funnier ones out soon.

I finally played Taps over my truck and turned it in to buy a 2012 Ford Escape.  It’s a beauty too.  Very nice color of blue, with cream-colored (or coloured, for my friends elsewhere) winterier.  I temporarily put the old plates from the truck on it, but the color (colour) had eroded from the lettering so badly that nothing was left.  Since I plan on taking a couple of trips, I didn’t want to get stopped in Podunk, Arkansas and be told by a cop that he couldn’t read my plates from ten feet away.   So, I went to the DMV (Department of Monetary Victims) and paid for a new set of plates.  I got a real doozy of a letter combination “FOZ” + four numbers.  This helped me create a name for my new ve-hickle: “Fozzie”.

Here’s a picture:

New SUV
Heeeeeere’s Fozzie!!!!

I think this one’s going to be a real nice car to drive.  Next week, I’ll have Ziebart add a trailer hitch and do their 10-year rustproofing gig.  I won’t have this one getting eaten up by rust like the truck.

Anyway, that’s about it.  If you want, let me know what you think of the first chapter of the book/novel/novelette/whatever.  You can find it here:

http://www.booksie.com/romance/novel/tom_oldman/snowbound/chapter/1

PS:  It’s HOT!  Went up to 104 today and last night never went below 86 degrees.  My grass is ‘crunchy’.

Surgery all done

I am typing, at the moment, one-handed.  My left arm is in a rigid cast bent at the elbow and in a sling.  What fantastic surgery!  I got a nerve block right in the shoulder – watching the ultrasound screen as they did it – and it almost immediately went to sleep.  I couldn’t feel a thing from the upper point of my shoulder down to the tips of my fingers.

I still haven’t seen the stitches because they are wrapped in bandages, but those come off Tuesday when I see the surgeon again.  The block was so thorough that I didn’t get any feeling back – anywhere on my arm – for 12 hours. I was kept in the hospital overnight to forestall any infections and then released Friday.  It felt strange to have those fingers hanging out there from the wrapping and not be able to feel my touching them with my good hand.  It felt like someone else’s hand.

I had to give up the waterbed temporarily because I couldn’t get up out of it. What was so amazing was that at no time was there any real pain.  I got painkillers, but stopped taking them because they had codine in them.  Codine and I don’t get along.  It makes my stomach upset, I get the sweats, and mt BP goes up a bit.

This whole thing is going to cost me $3.75 though – for the food I ate.

Surgery tomorrow

It may be minor, but it’s still surgery.  Men with knives will be attacking my left elbow in an effort to bring relief to my tingling fingers.  Seems that I have managed to damage the nerve that wraps around the point of my elbow and it needs to be re-routed somewhere else.  It is straightforward surgery – but I will refrain from calling it ‘no-brainer’ for obvious reasons.

I have to stay overnight in the hospital, which isn’t a real hardship because it is for my own good to make sure there isn’t any post-op infection.  The hospital in question, by the way, the the base hospital at Wright Patterson AFB.  I live very close.  In fact, if there weren’t any trees I could see it.  When the wind is right, we can hear the music at Reveille and Retreat.

When I get back on Friday evening, I won’t be of much use here at the keyboard since I have to type with one hand.  I am very fast even with this handicap, but I think I just won’t feel like it so bear with me.

 

My new website

My wife and I have just set up a joint web site.  The home page just contains two big buttons.  The one the left is to enter my web site and the one on the right is for hers.

The URL is: www.intellisigsys.net

The main purpose of my site is to list all the ways I can help computer users who dislike (or can’t really afford) paying a lot of dollars to have someone come and do things to their computer.  Some tasks that fall into this category are:

1. Remove malware and crudware from the computer.

2. Install software and optimize it.

3. Set up a new computer and make recommendations for what pre-installed software to keep or get rid of.

4. Help set up a home network.

5. Consulting about which computer to buy to fit your intended use.

6. Want your own website?  I’ll be happy to assist from initial design through coding it up and all the way to putting it out on the web.

7. Assist in upgrading your computer with new hardware or software.

8. Help maintain your computer – dustballs inside it can be deadly.

I work generally in the Dayton, Ohio area and inside 20 miles I won’t charge for gas.  Before I do a thing, we will have agreed on a price – and it won’t make a huge dent in your budget.  Anyway, the URL is active now but the home page is as far as it goes.

 

HTML is a four-letter word

I’ve been busily (for the last three days) doing some much-needed updating on my web site.  Until I get all the paged done, nothing get put up.  There are so many flavors of HTML out there that I hardly know where to begin.  The very first line – the one that tells the browser what the page actually is) kept throwing an error even though the whole line was syntactically correct.  I kept shortening it until all it read was “Doctype HTML”  Take THAT you stupid browser!

“RANT”

For the purposes of this diatribe, I will not use the carets (“<” and “>”) that indicate to the browser that a HTML code is coming up (or just left).  The very worst of it all was setting up the style sheets.  What a load of BS & /BS.  Drop one little ampersand “&” and the whole line goes crimson and nary a clue exists as to WHY it did.

Because I am too cheap to actually purchase good web designer software, I am churning this out in Notepad.  It is a good text editor and can be set up to not wrap lines.  This is a good thing, unless you have a line of code that stretches to infinity and beyond.  I tried Word, but Clippy kept sticking his nose into my business and trying to “guide” me.  I finally retaliated by wasting his ass.  Bwa ha ha!

For those who would really love to do harm to Clippy, you can search for two files and delete them: clippit.acs and clippit.acg.  There are other acs and acg files too (Dot, F1, Logo, Minature, and Rocky)  Kill all of those and they won’t peek over your shoulder and steer you onto the rocks.

But I digress; back to HTML.  Several of my pages have multiple pictures on them.  I spent two hours trying to get three pictures to sit side-by-side.  Who knew that if you position the first one with “align=left” and the rest set to “align=center” that they will all fall in nicely in a horizontal row.  I also tried for a while to indent some text using all sorts of strange combinations of code.  Who knew that a simple command (“UL” and “/UL”) would do it nicely. You can even nest them to do a double-indent.  I mean, it IS intuitive, isn’t it?  I now remember the code by the phrase “Uberpush Line”.

Fortunately, I use Firefox.  I love it.  I’ve been using it ever since version .00001.  One of it’s best features is a context menu item named “View Page Source”.  I love it!  Using this, and going back and forth from my Notepad HTML code, saving it, and clicking the refresh button, I can actually tell when I’ve screwed up made an error and have to fix it.

I think that the one thing that bugs me the absolute most are tag pairs (opening/closing) that you absolutely have to have – except if you have an enclosed tag that negates the use of a closing tag.  Huh?  Howzat?  Take, for instance (please), the simple Paragraph tag (“P”).  Using this tag, you can set text apart from other text as in a paragraph.  Now, if you happen to want to indent that paragraph (remember the UL and /UL?) you can forget the closing “/P”.  That’s right, you don’t need it because the paragraph closing is “implied” by the closing /UL.  It took me three books and a Google search to find out why my terminating /P kept turning red.

Now, I’m sure there are HTML people out there that are shaking their heads and saying stuff like “ignoramus” and worse, but this is MY web site and I want it MY way – not the way that Front Page or Pagebreeze thinks it should be.  Besides, I’ve been programming for just under 50 years now (started in 1964) and the word “nevah say quit” isn’t in my vocabulary (well, actually, it’s three words – but you know what I mean).

Bleah!

“/ RANT”

So, how was your week?

A Novel Idea

I’ve had to change the title slightly in my novel “Wanderlust”.  Originally I wanted to name it just as you see, but there was already a poem by that name so I had to alter it slightly.  First, came “Wanderlust – Chapter 1”.  But that sounded stupid when I added the following chapters.  So I’ve now named it “Wanderlust!” (note the exclamation point).

Chapter 1 can be found on this link (clicking will open a new window/tab):

http://www.booksie.com/romance/novel/tom_oldman/wanderlust/chapter/1

I am heartened to see that over 30 people have already viewed the first chapter.  I hope more follow.

There are several more stories I am working on also.  One of them is a ‘what if?’ story that moves into an alternate universe at a crucial point and the other is pure fantasy (humorous, I hope).  Neither one of these will be ready for publication until I can flesh out some of the chapters a little more than a bare outline.

It seems strange, to me anyway, that I’ve suddenly discovered that I like to write at this time of my life.  One story I’d really like to write would cover almost all the things I did while I was in the navy.  Some stories, although true, would sound almost like fiction.  Unfortunately, if I were to publish most of them it would bring federal authorities down on me pretty hard – even though the personal events have been long surpassed by world events.  Suffice it to say that since the Soviet Union is no longer, writing about it could still land me in hot water.  This is a shame, because there are a lot of stories out there just waiting for someone to tell them.

Writing is very therapeutic and surprisingly easy to do.  All you really need is a good program, like Word, and a keyboard capable of taking a pounding.  I say that because, in my case, I started typing way back in high school (1958 to be exact) on an Underwood manual with very stiff keys.  You really had to mash them to get a good impression on the paper – especially when the ribbon began to get faint.  From high school papers, I graduated to writing a lot of letters to friends as I grew up.  making the transition to teletype keyboards in the navy was easy, except for having to shift between letters and numerals with a special key.  On a teletype, the key travel was around an inch and if you didn’t press firmly the letter (or numeral) wouldn’t register and it would mess up your coded message.

So, when I type, one can probably hear me all over the house because of the clatter.  In the last year, I have worn out four keyboards – one of which had the letters almost worn completely off the tops of the keys.  I’ve found the Hewlett Packard keyboards tend to hold up the best; Microsoft keyboards will fail within three or four months.  When I replace a keyboard, it always takes me a perceptible time to relate to a new layout, but soon I am flying along just fine.  In timed contests in the navy, I was clocked at 175 words per minute while touch-typing coded groups of five letters.  When I was taking Morse code, I can still handle around 35-40 words per minute using a typewriter  The key is to lag behind two or three words behind the code so that you can do “burst typing” to catch up.  It makes for much more accurate copy.

How in the world did I get on this subject?  My mind tends to wander on a lazy Saturday morning (or any other morning for that matter).  It is beautiful outside and the squirrels are gathering hungrily under new corncobs on the bungee cord.  One enterprising guy (has to be a guy because he’s just showing off), loves to jump from the limb supporting the cob and land on it holding tightly as it bounces up and down.  Once stopped, he calmly fills his cheeks with corn kernels and casually drops to the ground to run home with it.  A different one will pull on the chain until he has it on the branch next to him.  Far more effective, but not as much fun to watch.  He’s probably an executive in squirreldom.

My observations of the doves still lead me to believe that they are the cattle of the bird world.  They simply wander around under the feeder and peck at seeds that the more active birds kick down to them.  Even when I leave the house, they just look up at me and stare as I pass.  They are almost always a pair though.  Their pleasant cooing  is nice to hear after winter’s harsh crow calling.  Although yesterday there was a huge crow perched in the front yard tree cawing mightily.  It got so bad that Cami (our little cat) would bang her nose against the window in frustration trying to make it go away.

Time for a nice hot cup of tea.