CYBER LUNACY

Oh but this has been a Lord Have Mercy kind of day.  I’ve been a victim of multi systems eating a hole in the whole syndrome.   This has been my day of getting a hole drilled in my whole head.  First, the wood stove. Last night it wasn’t burning so great.   I resolved first thing to take care of it at dawns early light.  Mostly, it needed cleaning and I finished the task feeling good.  Wound up not needing any parts that had to be shipped in from Siberia.  No odd bolts broke when I put it back together.  So far, a good day.

     Next stop the oil burner. It wasn’t starting for awhile.  The service man came and got it started.  Just one thing, it wouldn’t shut off.  Just kept running.  Does anyone want to enjoy a steam bath? He came again, got it to stop by installing a new thermostat.  It’s a beauty.  By the way, the service man is a great guy and did as good a job as anyone could do.  He was gone awhile when I discovered that the water circulation pump wouldn’t stop running.  It’s down there in the cellar just humming away to beat the band.  The service guy is on his way.  Luckily, I rent.
     Then, the piece d’ resistance, I figured I should put the finishing touches on my wife Sandy’s new Affordable Health Care Act plan.  I sat in dumbfounded limbo, dazed, scared, and befuddled for about four hours. I think I must have been transferred to about nine different very nice customer service agents during that time.  I also had to write and fax two letters immediately.  It was just a simple thing or two that had to be done.  It would have been nothing at all between two people talking calmly.  But, get the government involved and, look out mama.  Again, every agent I spoke to did their level best but, it’s like nine different people trying to stop leaks in this whirling giant sieve and we only got one cork.  There’s only so many fingers to go around.  I don’t know how these very pleasant people do this every day and stay so nice.  I’d be a drooling, maniac, suicidal, crawling around on all fours singing Beatle songs and eating peanut butter and spider sandwiches and, I had very good help.  To this minute, I’m not sure I got it right.  Good thing Sandy is pretty healthy.
     I know that if I didn’t get to looking at this plan, she would have been uninsured for about 3 days next week.  Good thing I got that cleared up or, did I?
     There’s more, lot’s more but, that’s it.  I’m going to knock off from this stuff, feed the hound and do a great three hour Front Porch Show tonight starting between 6pm and 6:30   You are invited. Who’s bringing the pizza?
     The main thing I do want to stress is that each and every person I got involved with on these messes were great people.   It’s just that stuff is getting way too intricate, triplicate, delicate, and silicate.

POTENTIAL UFO THREAT OR DID IT JUST GO AWAY……

Sandy has this big hunk of cloth hanging over the back porch railing.  It’s this huge blanket.  At least I think it’s a blanket.  But, it’s so big, measuring I’d say, nine feet by eighteen feet.  It’s a made of a kind of fleece material with satin edging.  If it was smaller, I’d say it was a baby blanket.  Maybe it’s a baby blanket for when you have octuplets.

      In any case it’s hanging over the back porch railing overlooking the river and a storms coming.  Rain is already falling and, the wind is starting to kick up.  Every now and then the darn thing is standing straight out from the rail.  Right now, it’s at a forty five degree angle.  You know, I think before the day is done, it’s going to be sailing over yonder mountain.
     Jetliners fly over the house on a regular basis.  We live under their slowdown lane for Newark Airport.  There’s at least one plane every four minutes shifting into low and descending.   I hope that blanket doesn’t wrap around the cockpit window sometime this afternoon.  That would be a real hard thing to explain to the authorities.
     That blanket sailing through the clouds could be mistaken for a UFO.  I can just see some old timer saying how, “It was the durndest thing I ever seen.  Flew right over the hen house.  Think I got it with my shotgun!”
     I can see the army tanks approaching slowly as it descends over Watchung Mountain a week from now and lands in the Bridgewater Mall parking lot.  An uneasy Captain wearing a steel pot helmet and smoking a big cigar gets on the intercom.  ” Easy men! Fire only if necessary.  The boys back at the lab are going to want to analyze this thing.   It came from light years away with almost no damage.  We got to know what it’s made of. Easy now.”
     Ooops,  maybe my fantasy might just come true.  I just looked out the window.  The blankets gone.  Bon Voyage fair flannel.  Bon Voyage.
     I better go see if it’s in the river…..
     URGENT UPDATE…..The blanket and the world is safe.  Sandy was reading over my shoulder and, went straght out and brought the blanket in.  Yet another example of the power of the pen.

BATTLE AT ROSS’S CORNERS

 I was setting up at the Chatterbox the other day.  It was going to be a very busy day.  The pumpkin pickers and leaf watchers were going to be hitting in droves.  It’s a sort of gastronomic human wave attack.  I love it there on a day like that.   

     I had to pass through the kitchen to get some of my gear and paused to watch the kitchen crew.  It was like watching a ships crew preparing for battle and victory.  Tomato slices were being carefully piled on slices of lettuce and stored in coolers.  Later, during the onslaught, those assemblies would cut sandwich prep time down by a precious 3 or 4 seconds.  Don Hall, the owner, was busy just like everyone else.  He was making an extra vat of his special coleslaw.   Frozen items were moved from freezers to warmer coolers  just to cut defrost time if necessary.  Dishes we’re being piled in strategic locations for rapid fire filling.  The soldiers at Fort Mc Henry scrambling to defend against the British Navy had nothing on Chef Reyes and his crew that day.  I asked the crew if they were ready and they all cheered and flexed their muscles like you see them do on professional wrestling shows.
     Out front, in the dining area, the serving staff was doing kind of the same thing.  They were folding up those paper automobiles for the kids meals.  They had hundreds of them ready to go.  A GM ceo would have been proud of them.   Brown mustard bottles were being refilled and placed into position.  Each and every ketchup bottle was checked for proper fullness Extra pens were handed out just in case one malfunctioned in the heat of battle.
     One of the serving staff, I won’t say who, hollered that she just loved Saturdays at the Chatterbox.  She got a few friendly raspberries.   Still, she stood firm in her conviction and defended her statement. ” I love Saturdays here..” She told everyone.  “You should see the boring stuff I got to do all week.  It’s so good to get here and make some great money doing something worthwhile.”  I think the young lady had the right idea.  Later, in the middle of the onslaught, she was catching her breath near my DJ booth and I complimented her on her attitude.  She just gulped down a swig of soda and said, “Well it’s true. I love being here.”  With that she somehow noticed that one of her tables was getting low on ketchup.  She had to run.   I watched her dive into the pile and glanced smiling at all the others running like ants on a sugar cube, and thought about the great thing they would all do and become.  Then I noticed that one of my songs was ending and I had get into the next one.  It was a good day for sure.

HAPPY HOUND DAYS

I think if you could question most Basset Hounds, they’d tell you that October is their favorite month.  Why, because like most dogs, they value stealth.  In October, Basset Hounds don  the cloak of invisibility.  It’s a big thing for them.  What happens is that the leaves pile up on lawns and woodlands all over this great land of ours.  You may have noticed that the typical hound coloring matches the color of the leaves and, there you have it.   Bassets, being low to the ground wade through the leaves half concealed and camouflaged as well.  They blend right in.  Since they don’t walk too fast, they also roam noiselessly.  If they stop to take a nap, as most of them do, falling leaves cover them completely.  In the wild, this must be the one time of the year they can catch wild game.  This is their season of feasting.  The domestic hounds do very good at this time as well because they look so cute looking out from leaf piles.  In short, October to
a hound is like Christmas to a human.  Happy Hound Days everybody!
As I write this on Sunday morning a roving band of woodpeckers are pecking on our bungalow from all sides.  One just flew right into a storm window and is kind of shaking his head on the ground.  There must be a dozen of them.  Noisy.  That one that hit his head just flew off.  It sounds like some gang shooting BB’s at the house from all sides.

NIPPER MEET NAPPER

Do you remember Nipper the RCA Dog?  He was a pretty neat little canine who was a kind of spokes hound for RCA Victrolas.  I might be wrong but, in fact, I think Nipper may still be the logo for any RCA audio product.  You’ve all seen him sitting with his head tilted slightly, staring  into the speaker horn of an old crank up RCA 78 RPM phonograph.  It was a cute logo then and, it’s a cute logo still.
Well, Nipper meet Napper the official hound of www.docsouth.net.   It turns out as near as I can tell, that one of my biggest fans is Millie our Basset Hound.   I’ll explain.   Many a night to help me sleep and to help me proofread the shows, I’ll run a repeat of one of my shows through the speakers at the foot of my bed.  Usually, I last through the first  fifteen minutes and, the next thing I know, it’s morning.  It used to be that Millie would just conk out in what used  to be my easy chair in the living room.  But lately, just after I set up a broadcast from the archive files, she comes running to the side of the bed.  She then, sits there and whines till I climb out of bed and boost her up onto the mattress.  Then, like all dogs getting ready to bed down for the night, she sniffs here, scratches there, turns around and paces back and forth a bit, scotches up the covers a little and then plops down with a big sigh.  Usually she plops her chest,
neck and head, right down on top of my legs.
The interesting thing is that she almost never comes to bed unless my show is running and, she always lies no more than a foot away from the right hand speaker and she’s never more than a foot away from it.  There’s a tiny blue indicator light on the speaker so, I thought she might be wanting for some reason known only to dogs to stare at the pretty light.  That might be the case, but soon, her eyes are closed and she’s almost asleep.  In other words she doesn’t see the light for very long so, it’s got to be that she’s digging the tunes.  This is the clincher, when the show finally ends she hops out of bed and goes into the living room to her easy chair.  The one that use to be mine.  I think I have a four legged fan with floppy ears.
I’m going to see if Sandy can get a photo.  Millie looking Basset Hound cute with her head between my two blue feet (If a Basset Hound lays on your lower legs long enough, your feet will turn blue from lack of circulation.) and the speaker in the background with their blue light casting an eerie glow.   I think with a little viral action on the web and I’ll be number one in cyber space.  Millie could have her own show.

AGONY IN TRIPLICATE

Oh, It was a rough day. The suffering was beyond belief. Agony! Agony! Agony! What happened you ask? Did I wake up to find myself swallowed up to my neck in a boa constrictor? Was there a tarantula crawling up my pant leg? Did I slip on an apple peel, and fall face first into a boiling pot of oatmeal. No, that stuff is just a mere bag of fluffy kittens compared to the suffering I faced today. Its almost too hard to write about….but I will.
> What was it that took me to the brink of sanity? Pure and simple, it was paper work and red tape and forms. Oh, if I only had a match. It started with filing Sandy’s quarterly sales tax for NJ and Pa. You do it by computer now and that wouldn’t be too bad if I could only remember the passwords. Fifteen minutes to get it right. Oh if I could have only just mailed it in. All those numbers just staring at me. There! It’s done. Now how do I save the confirmation page. Printer friendly? Not if there’s no ink in the printer. Ok do I write it down by hand or try to save the file to desktop? Better copy it down by hand. Click!!! Hey, where’s the file. Paper reduction act, my foot.
> Next chore, sign Sandy up for the Affordable Health Care Act. Luckily, I didn’t touch that one with a ten foot pole. I got people who knew what they were doing so I saved at least 50 hours of trouble. As it turns out, I only had to spend about 2 hours today finding old forms to send to the government to prove Sandy’s income. Everyone I worked with was very nice but, I’m going to be very surprised if all goes as planned. Very surprised indeed. Keep your fingers crossed.
> Then it was off to DMV NJ to get my license renewed and to also get my vans registration renewed. That’s called a twofer. I got a little shook when some guy ran out the door as I was going in. I think he was southern and the DMV was his Gettysburg. He was into some wild muttering and loud cussing., His license had expired and he had to hit the road and go back home to find some more ID before they could give him a new license. He was afraid the police would get him either coming of going. I think they were waiting for him.
> The folks at the DMV were very nice really. The lady who made the Southerner so mad was nice as pie to me. I had brought every piece of ID there ever was. I even brought my childhood vaccination records. (I think I’m overdue for tetanus.) The people working at DMV did their job well and were very polite. Many of them though looked very tired and in dire need of coffee. The guy who took my picture for the license, looked kind of like the picture he took of me. We could have been the bleary eyed and bored twins. He did ask if I’d like another try at the photo and, I told him it would probably be best to leave well enough alone. At least, in this photo, my eyes were open and I didn’t look too much like a corpse. I wanted to get out of there before the southern guy got back. If he got back.
> Oh, as a side note, as I was digging for proper ID for the license, I found that I no longer have a Social Security Card. It’s somewhere out there having a ball without me. I’ve been asking around today and, I’m finding that lots of people are out there minus their Social Security Card too. I guess I’ve joined them. We’re sort of a band of paperwork nudists. I’m not sure if it feels good. I’ve always worn pants and the social security card has always been in the pocket.
> When I got to work today, my manager was going crazy. It seems we got a two pallet load of dairy goods but our in house computer says we didn’t. My manager was up to his earlobes trying to get the computer to agree with us humans. If he doesn’t convince the computer, to see it our way, the store computers cyber friend at the warehouse will tell the guys on the loading dock to send us another load of the stuff we already got. It’s gonna get crowded in the cooler.
> There is more I could tell you but, that’s enough for now. I did chop a little firewood today and, I moved a ton or two of dairy goods onto the aisle this afternoon. I kissed the wife, petted the dog, and spoke with my grand daughter Sadie. Now, I’m going to see if the bear is still in the front yard. He was there an hour ago. Then, Millie the Hound and I will eat some ice cream. Before we go to bed, I’ll wipe my face and her lower jaw with a paper napkin. Finally, some paper work I can get into.

MEN, IT’S JUST A LITTLE WATERFALL

Here it is Columbus Day and I think we really have to hand it to old Chris and his crew.  (Of course we might also want to thank the Vikings, and the prehistoric people who migrated over the land bridge from Asia to Alaska and maybe an Alien or two.)   Chris and his crew had buckets of hutzpah on board.   That’s all I can say.  Hutzpah and, plenty of it.  Columbus was pretty sure the world was round but, that wasn’t the general belief back then.  Common observation said the earth  was flat and, if you got too close to the edge……well, it wasn’t pretty.  Look what happens to an egg if it rolls off a table.  Splat!!!!    I guess folks figured that you’d hear a dull roar off the horizon.  By then, it would be too late.  Your ship would be pulled into this awful rapid and, there would be no turning back.   I can just imagine the nightmares sailors must have had back then.

     Still, if Chris was right, and he and the crew could find a short route to China.   I can hear his crew now.  Wow, that could mean a few extra pesos in the paycheck.   Heck, maybe it isn’t that big a waterfall anyway.   Let’s have a few grogs and make sail.  I can see the guys telling their wives, “But, dear, it’s just a little tiny waterfall and we’ll be back in just two years.   Sure, I’ll get you some silk in China.  Gotta go.   Late for work.”
     I wonder if Columbus knew that he was making the trip in peak hurricane season.  I’m sure they ran into storms at sea back then.  But, hurricanes are a pretty far cry from a mere blow up.   I’m thinking of when the Weather Channel shows all those tropical depressions forming off the coast of Africa and heading West.  Columbus would have been right in the way.  I’ve never read the log of the trip.  I wonder if maybe they got overtaken by a hurricane.   They came back alive so, I guess not.  Heck, big ships have trouble in those storms.   I would think that those over sized row boats Chris had would have faired no better than those little boats we’d make as kids.  Remember how we’d build them and float them in a flooded gutter as it rained.  Ours would get sucked into the storm sewer, and I don’t imagine that the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria would fare any better.  I bet, that if they did get hit by a hurricane, they’d have thought that they hit the end  of the Earth and were about to go over the edge.   I can hear them now, “I thought the Captain said it was just a little waterfall.”
    The wild thing is that if the ships had gotten caught in a storm, or for any reason, didn’t come back, what would people think?   They’d probably make a humble little plaque and put it on the pier at the waters edge at the spot Columbus and his crew were last seen alive.   Every summer after that, on the day Columbus and his brave but foolish men set sail to their doom, folks would gather round the plaque and say something in Latin to the effect that Columbus thought it was just a little waterfall.   Then they’d say a little prayer and go home.  In time it would become a tradition for the oldest son in the family to roll an egg off the table.   Hutzpah would be eventually outlawed and, there would never be a few extra pesos in the pay check.
     It’s a good thing Columbus made it there and back.  It’s an even better thing that there wasn’t any waterfall at all.

BRING ON WINTER

I was lucky this fall and  got myself three jackets, one for each winter need.  First, my wife Sandy found me a nice heavy cotton long sleeve shirt.  It’s a kind of a loosely woven plaid lumberjack thing.  It the kind of shirt you see in the commercials where a muscle bound ax man takes a break from felling a 90 foot pine tree to dig into a stack of Aunt Jemima Pancakes and Oscar Mayer bacon as he keeps a wary eye peeled for grizzleys.    That’ll be my indoor jacket for when the house, in spite of our best efforts, is just a bit too chilly.  Like the lumberjack I’ll wear this one as I have my morning peanut butter and jelly and watch cartoons.

     My next jacket was given to me by Eileen our loading dock chief at the A&P.  She’s always watching for a chance to do something nice for people.  One day at work, she told me how she ordered a hooded sweat shirt over the internet, and somehow the company sent  two instead of one.  They charged her for one.  She said that she called the company and, they told her to keep the extra.  I guess it was cheaper to let her keep the spare.  At least, that’s what Eileen said.  Personally, I think she saw that my sweat shirt was getting ratty and, that the sleeves of my insulated sweater were frayed at the cuff.  So, knowing her, I’m thinking she maybe found a buy one, get one free deal and then gave me the jacket while I was knocking down a pallet of milk crates.  It’s a great jet black hooded sweat shirt.  It’s got a real heavy fleece on the inside, even in the hood.   This will be my, gotta go out in the blizzard to bring in shopping carts because the cart guy called in sick, shirt.  It will also be my car broke down on the way home and here’s no heat in the car shirt, too.  Bless Eileen for getting my won’t freeze to death shirt.  I’m sure I’ll be needing it.
     The final jacket Sandy got me about a month ago.  I love it.  It’s the most important jacket of all.  It’s my army green, long sleeved flannel lined, driving jacket.  It’s sleeves are a bit too long, which is perfect for driving.  The long sleeves keep your hands and wrists warmer than normal.  The jacket is warm enough with that flannel lining but, light enough to make driving a car effortless.  There’s lots of pockets too for snacks and toll money.  The bottom of this coat goes well past my belt line.  That feature keeps my lower back warm which is a definite plus.
     In short, it’s going to be a great winter.  I’m gonna be covered and cozy.  Bring on those icy blasts

HIDING UNDER THE CYBER BED 10/09/14

Most of the time, computers are just fine.  They’re a lot of fun, useful and just a joy to be around.  Well, they’re a joy  to be around when they’re working right and no one is messing with them.   There you are skipping down that internet freeway just like it was the Yellow Brick Road, when all of a sudden, there’s that old wicked witch popping out of the bushes and stomping all over your poor defenseless files and kicking sand all over your keyboard.  What will you do?  You could throw water on her and laugh as she melts but, what if you got water on your laptop?   Take care friends help is here.  See that guy with the  pocket protector on his cape.  That’s Bob Mitchy, and he wears the ancient slide rule which was given to him by his physics instructor many gigabytes  ago.  Bob knows a lot about defending computers from harm and all those that would pursue a life of crime in cyber space.  Once again, computers can walk with their screens held high across this great and free cyber realm.

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