Saturday, August 13, 2016

On Sony's Pricing Strategy

I read somewhere that Sony's one big claim to fame was the invention of the Trinitron picture tube. They got a lot of PR mileage out of that, but, I read, that was the single innovation the company ever made. Otherwise, they did like most every other corporation and copied existing technology. I once read an autobiography of the then president of Sony and I believe in it was where I read that one of the strategies of the company was to deliberately set their prices higher than competitors in order to add perceived value to their own products.  But, in retrospect, the most startling thing about the book was the tone. It was very narcissistic and almost weirdly optimistic and positive. It sounded, in fact, like I imagine such a book written by Donald Trump would sound. The other two times I ran across that personality were in the autobiographies of Eddie Rickenbacker and of Benvenuto Cellini. I don't know if there are any valid conclusions to be drawn from such a small sampling. I think we all saw the breakdown of Charlie Sheen, who is/was also similar. Actually, the more I think about it, and the more time I give the caffeine to enter my blood stream this morning, I suppose there are many such personalities like this, some belonging to great men, some not, but all belonging to men who want to be great.

 I think there is so much irony in today's politics that we have lost our ability to spot it. I don't like either candidate on purely aesthetic grounds, to start with. Digging deeper, I don't particularly like Hillary, and I doubt she could get much traction except in this case, running against Trump. Trump is kind of a clown. It saddens me not that he exists, but that the American people, or something like half of them, see fit to propel him into a position of power. I think we, Americans, have lost our ability to reason, and maybe even our desire to be reasonable.

I'm not much of an historian, but I am truly puzzled at the movement, you might call it, or the idea that seems to be afloat, that America was once great, but is great no longer, and at how Trump's message of "making America great again" resonates so strongly. If this is because of the waning of religion in America's culture, I can understand the sentiment, but I don't equate religion with America at all. America is and has always been a secular organization, and, just my opinion, if religious people think their particular values are not being taken seriously enough, or they would like to return to a time in the past when it was, they are being unrealistic.

Anyway, the irony is that if anyone is going to make America "great again," it is not Trump, unless your sole definition of greatness is isolation, fear, power and money. These things, perhaps, Trump can deliver. At any rate, in just about all ways that I can tell, America is great right now, by a bunch of criteria. We certainly have freedom in just about everything, including religion (Trump might want to change that) and of movement, of speech, of thought, and I think freedom was always one of the main things we all thought America was all about. We are pretty prosperous as well. I have never in my life thought I might one day not be able to live somewhere, and to eat enough, and be safe, even though at many times I didn't have a job. I think that is an American thing, and our greatness is underscored when you see the plight of refugees all over the world. OF course, I know it's not all good.  Nothing is.

But that was kind of a half-formed thought--I admit it. I think Trump is just saying anything he thinks his voter base will like to hear. He keeps massaging this small percentage of voters in saying things like Obama is the founder of ISIS, or that he is going to put up this humongous wall and make Mexico pay for it (not sure how, because apparently it's a secret) and when he hears the crowd cheering, he thinks this means he is going to win. He keeps ignoring the rest of the populace who are starting to wonder just what the hell he is going to do.  I agree with the people who say Hillary is just "business as usual," and while that's a mixture of good and bad, the main thing is, I know what it is. I also know that it works, at least after a fashion.

But, seriously, what do I know?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Browser They Have Detected

An Impromptu Rant:

      The Browser the good people at BlogSpot have detected is not supported, and, to paraphrase, I'm on my own. I would just like to point out that the reason they don't detect my Chrome browser is because I'm not using it. It has shot craps, once again, and I'm tired of hearing solutions like, uninstall your operating system. It should only take three or four days, and, voila, you'll have Chrome back in all its glory. For awhile.
      Never mind. I am not here to talk about that.

Road Trip:

      The Big Road Trip has dissolved into a quick dash down I-70 to St. Louis and back after a one night stay. This is slightly annoying since the part about going to St. Louis was only added to what I thought of as the main trip--that of going to Kentucky--as in, well, f*ck, might as well stop at St. Louis since I'll be driving right through it anyway.
      So, I'll take a couple of cameras and hope I see a UFO or something so the trip won't be a total loss.

Retail Adventures:

      Because my old guitar amplifier chromed out on me (new phrase: "chromed out," meaning acted like Google Chrome Browser and just quit working for no apparent reason) the other day, and I had decided not to throw any more money at it, I began to look around for a replacement. I found a nice one at a used guitar store, bought it and took it home.
      That's when I discovered that it smelled funny. Apparently the previous owner of this amp was a smoker, and the whole thing actually smelled quite bad, once I got it out of the big building where I bought it and stuck it in a room--the smallest bedroom in my house--for a couple of hours.
      I cleaned the outside of it. I sprayed Lysol Kitchen cleaner all over it and wiped it down, then rinsed it (as carefully as you can rinse an electric device) (yeah I unplugged it) and sniffed it and declared it at least somewhat improved.  A couple hours later, though, I found the room once again was filled with the reek of stale cigarettes. I bought a used car like this once. I knew that no matter what I did, this thing would smell like stale cigarettes for months, especially given it was in an enclosed space. Guitar amps are usually covered with a kind of porous naugahyde material, and some tolex, a cloth over the speaker grill. The smell was going to have to decay, like the half-life of uranium, on it's own timetable.
      I took it back. The owner of the store was "puzzled" when I told him my story. A rather disingenuous puzzlement, I thought, because for a couple of reasons, I thought he probably knew about the smell and had tried to get rid of it himself. But . . . just an inkling I had.  My bullshit detector was sort of flickering.
      Anyway--I don't mean to drag this out--he finally agreed to accept the return if I would pay the fee that Visa charges him to process debit cards. So, for about $25, I got to own a smelly amp for a day, and for the next several days continue to smell it when in my study.


      To write this post, I began by using Microsoft Edge, the browser that comes with Windows 10. A little different, I thought, but, hey, pretty snappy, and I might get used to being directed to Bing instead of Google during searches.  And then it happened. It started red-underlining every single thing I typed, in a continuous line. I couldn't turn it off. I Googled it, and got millions of hits. It is a Known Problem. Furthermore it is a Known Problem that Microsoft Won't Fix. So. I downloaded Firefox and I'm using it now. Once again, I ask the question, is all the technology making my life better? Is it making me happy?
      Hey, I don't answer questions.  I just ask them.

Sunday, July 31, 2016


A road trip is in the offing. For a couple of reasons, I have to drive to a point in Illinois just east of St. Louis to deliver some stuff to a person. I hate St. Louis, and I hate driving to St. Louis. I-70 through Missouri is . . . well, Ike would roll over in his grave if he saw what has become of his Interstate system. And this particular trip is very much like 250 miles of driving through town. There is no point anywhere along the way where you encounter anything remotely resembling "open road," and at any given point along said route, you will be behind a dozen or more trucks (within eyesight) that are slowing down, and in front of a dozen or so trucks that are speeding up. When you get about 40 miles this (west) side of downtown St. Louis, and the Mississippi River, you will think you are in St. Louis, but you have only reached the edge of the metropolitan area, recognizable by the five to seven lanes of traffic in your direction, (which will all come to a halt somewhere around the airport--it's a given.)
The seven lanes of Interstate are meant to expedite the flow of traffic into the actual downtown area, recognizable by the tall buildings and the mere two lanes of traffic going your direction. Most of the time, one of them is blocked off because of construction.
Good times.
However, the next day I will proceed to Kentucky and possibly Tennessee. This will be nice. And on the way back home, I won't go through St. Louis.

OK you've seen the arch. Now go home. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016


I suppose if you "believe" in the principles of synchronicity, then you must take the bad with the good. Kind of like how when you find a penny, it's good luck if it's heads up, but bad if found tails up.

So this morning I was walking along the sidewalk when a strange, green bug, probably alien in nature, made its presence known by biting my forearm. Later, when I returned home, I went to turn on the lawn sprinkler and a spider was dangling right in my path to the outside spigot. I dispatched her with a broom, got the water turned on, returned to my car to grab my Quicktrip coffee, which I had put on the roof of the car, and go inside. A little bug was trying to drink my coffee and I had to flick it off.

That's three things. I hope that's the end of it.

I also found a lucky penny!

Do not place pennies on the tracks. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Due to a series of dumb stunts, I managed to hurt my back in precisely the same place (lower right lumbar) several times in the last three weeks, so now it is so sore I can barely find a position where it stops hurting, it seems like. Turmeric is just . . . I'm way beyond the reach of its powers. I'm not discounting powerful drugs but so far I've limited my regenerative regime to rest and lots of whining.

Of course in the middle of all this I am having a lot of work done to my house. And no matter what you think--or maybe it's just me--no matter who you hire to do whatever, it usually results in you doing some extra work, too. Then, just for fun, a giant limb fell off one of my oak trees and I sort of felt compelled to clean it up. 

Just before that, I bought some decorative river rock down to the Ace Hardware store and unloaded it from the trunk of my car and carried the bags, one after another, to the area behind the garage where the rock was going to be placed. This operation, if caught on film, would have made a great intro to a corporate safety film--you know how they start out showing the stupid guy and how he injures himself by lifting with his back and NOT HIS KNEES.  There is no way to lift something out of a car trunk by lifting only with your knees, by the way, and if this were a company workplace, I would have had to "get help from another employee," which is the corporate catch-all solution to impossible things that must be done in company workplaces. In my recent case, I was the only one there, and to leave the bags of rock in my trunk until I could get help would have resulted in me driving around with them back there and getting  four miles per gallon everywhere I went. 

The house is shaping up, though. All exterior stuff except a couple sections of rain gutter is now fixed, the back door to the garage is replaced, and several low spots around the foundation that had a negative grade are filled and corrected so that water run off will be away from the house instead of toward my basement. Some time ago I had the inside of the house painted, and cracks etc. repaired, and it looks real nice. I'm pretty happy with it all. 

I don't know. This seems like an awful tame blog entry. But that's life.  OK, I watched the Republican National Convention on TV and was kind of disappointed not to see Sarah Palin. But what are you going to do? It seems like they came up with an excellent choice for VP this time and the liberal pundits on MSNBC were forced to admit it. Pretty tame stuff. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Speech Patterns of the Descendants of Oklahoma Natives

I just did a Google search for the string "Donald Trump." Of course there were lots of hits. I then selected "images" and was, at first, struck by the hundreds of nearly identical pictures of Donald Trump's head. In most of them his mouth was open, as if in mid-word, in that little vertical oval shape that he forms--that makes you want to punch him between the eyes--and in the others his mouth was closed and he was looking petulant. I don't really intend to go on and on about the various ways I don't like this guy, but I'll just say I'm pretty certain that if I ever saw him in real life, I would probably find him repellent. I realize he has some sort of charisma, and I only say that because there must be some reason for his limited success so far, but this only depresses me because it means that some charisma is good, and some is bad, and that's sort of depressing. Like how Christians must feel when they come around to the idea of the anti-Christ.

What I was doing was trying to see how large a man Trump was. Physically. Eventually I just asked Google and quickly learned that he is 6' 2".  Probably not weird at all that I immediately doubted that, (even though a quick glance down the list of hits revealed that lots of web sites said he was 6' 2",) because if Trump were 5' 7", it would not be surprising to me, or anybody else, probably, that he continually told people he was 6' 2" until everyone started believing it.

I scrolled down the page of pictures to find one showing Trump standing next to someone else, so I could compare their heights. I felt certain that Trump was a "big guy" simply because he acted like he was. You know how you could always tell that Robert Blake was short--well, I mean the opposite of that. Somehow. Men of different heights do act differently, according to their heights, some in a good way, others not so much. Anyway, the next thing I found weird was the dearth of images on Google's results page showing Trump's entire frame, like, standing somewhere, and the picture includes all of him, from tiny shoes to big, stupid looking hair. I think I finally found one such picture. Out of hundreds of head shots. Turns out he is a pretty big guy, kind of imposing, and he's taller than President Obama, who is 6' 1".

Interesting factoid: in all American Presidential elections so far, the taller of the two major candidates has won two thirds of the time. That's really not that impressive a statistic, but it does show a trend. In this day and age, with TV and Google mostly showing candidates' heads only, we must assume the two thirds phenomenon is probably from factors in each candidates life, perhaps their childhood, in part, that caused their height to affect their level of success. For example, the schoolyard experience of a big kid might give him the extra confidence to achieve, and work for success in his subsequent life. Or, he might become a bully as certain big kids in schoolyards are wont to do.


The last thing I did was Google a variety of celebrities to see how they were depicted in the pictures Google served up for me. Hillary Clinton, (all head shots) Marilyn Monroe, (strangely, still mostly head shots, though many cropped wider to show some cleavage, as with results for Dolly Parton) and Woody Allen. (All head shots.) Finally, in desperation, I Googled Charles Atlas, and finally we got someone whose pictures are pretty much all full body shots.

Just wondering about this. On another day, it might be the history of grocery carts. One last thought, though: are taller bloggers any more interesting? I guess we'll never know. However, it's been said that Garrison Keeler is the world's tallest radio personality.

Disclosure: I am 5' 11", unless I am thirty years old again, or if I hang upside down by my heels in the doorway for a half hour. Or half an hour. You pick.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ramblin' Man

The Fourth came and went without incident, that I know of. Mostly it was fireworks off in the distance, with only one loud *blam* that seemed to come from my neighbor's yard. Both cats raised their heads and rotated their ears toward the sound.

I took my treadmill test and, apparently, passed it. I thought I would. I've been pressing harder as I walk up my hill, and I can now go up it without raising my heart rate above 120, and without any sort of discomfort.

The main reason the treadmill test is such an ordeal is that they tell you to fast for four hours before. With a 9:30 a.m. appointment, that means either getting up in the middle of the night to eat breakfast, or hitting the treadmill with no blood sugar whatsoever, and no medicine. So my muscles were just . . . there . . . and felt pretty heavy. It was hard work just walking on the damn thing.

I'm not sure I want to fully understand why the no-eating rule, because I think it is for in case they have to wheel you off into surgery because you just had a treadmill-induced heart attack or stroke, and the rule has really more to do with general anesthetic.

In my case, I would be more likely to have a heart attack trying to perform physical work with no blood sugar to work with, as a sort of ironic cosmic slap in the face haha. As it turns out, my heart is fine. Enough of that.

I sold the Longaberger baskets. It was not a win-win. It was more like a my-loss-your-gain sort of thing, but I'm glad to be rid of them. I still have quite a few, actually--maybe half a dozen or more--because they are in actual use. Where I put the bananas. Where I throw the car keys.  Where I stick the magazines, store the coffee fixin's, etc. I still get magazines, because they haven't all come up for renewal, which I don't do. When the time runs out, they send a few more issues, send me letters, etc., and as far as I know, none of them are on automatic withdrawal so I'll just let them run out of steam, chips falling where they may, and all that.

The weather here sucks. It's the humidity. Really. I keep looking on the Internet at the weather in different parts of the U.S. Mostly it is better than here. I know it could be worse. It could be Houston, or Amarillo. Or, anywhere in the entire state of Texas, or any adjacent states, or any place where pickup trucks require stepladders, or belt buckles require suspenders and dashboard beer-holders are all the rage. Or NASCAR.

And of course when the election results come in, I'll have a new list of places to avoid. And I know what they would tell me. If you hate America that much, why don't you move to Russia?? (Remember that?)

Well, so much for the blog post. It is without any sort of focal point, but, in that regard it is a fairly accurate bellwether of my real life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

a picture

A while back I posted an old picture of my wife and our son, a baby then, in front of our old house. We had restored (in a manner of speaking) that house, and one of the things I did was replace the wrought iron supporting the porch roof with wood, in a style that I thought would make the house look like it used to. Subsequent owners did the porch over again and more or less un-did what I had achieved, but today while organizing drawers I found this picture. It must have been right after I finished the porch, but before the fence was put in.

If you look closely, you can see there is a rainbow behind the house--that must have been why I ran out there and took that picture. For a brief time, I lived right there at the end of that rainbow.

Bonus picture--something from this century.  It is a rare, in-focus picture of L-bot taken recently:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Yup. It's gonna be a hunnert today.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Did You Mean Synopsis No I Meant Synopses

I sometimes think Google is a little too forgiving, but in some cases I actually do know what I mean. And this all comes about because my son has talked me into watching Game of Thrones, even going so far as to text me the secret password to an HBO NOW account that belongs to someone else. (A bit like a cat giving you a mouse if he has two already.) This all becomes a little problematic because of my high frequency hearing loss (see: Blue Cheer, concerts, volume) which keeps me from hearing dialog on the TV set unless it is enunciated in a style somewhat along the lines of Edward R. Murrow's.

It is heating up outside. Summer is here, and that means the air conditioner kicks on every 20 minutes or so. It is loud, and when the dialog on a TV show is suddenly buried in the rushing hiss of my forced air H/VAC, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to pick out words. Especially words I have never heard before, like Targaryen--which might be Rastafarian or Yossarian  if you bury it sufficiently in the background of clopping horses and forced air cooling systems and deliver it in a dramatic whisper.

There were two solutions.  One was to plug headphones into the little ROKU remote that sits by me on the couch, and snap them onto my head, over my beleaguered ears. This works great. Suddenly, I can follow the dialog, figure out who is who,  what they are doing, and perhaps why, or at least wonder, so now I may not even really need the second solution, which is to Google "Game of Thrones synopses" and read about what happened so the following episode will make sense. All this works.

I might add, parenthetically, that the sound engineering on the production of Game of Thrones is excellent.

My son keeps telling me I should get a hearing aid, and he is probably right. Perhaps if the whole, real, world became sufficiently audible I might make something of it. Maybe it wouldn't seem so perplexing, or at times truly weird. Maybe when I watch the news for the latest developments in the real game of thrones that is currently being played out, the presidential candidates, it will turn out, are all intelligent and well-spoken.