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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wild Bill KODI


I have begun to accept that apps have become a basic part of our lives despite the fact they used to be called programs or applications that ran on our computers. Now we have apps for our phones and our televisions. I have a multitude of apps on my Fire TV just so I can watch the 300 or so channels that I pay for as part of my cable. The apps, in theory, just allow me to watch things anytime I want.

My sister-in-law introduced me to yet one more app that in theory provides all of the movie, television and music content available anywhere at anytime. Not sure how she discovered it, but her intent was to free herself from cable bills and simply stream everything through the Internet. She told my wife about the app with the hopes that my mother in law could use it to get rid of her cable.

The app is called KODI. There is a YouTuber who has a whole channel devoted to explaining how you download and install KODI. Along the way, he also tries to get you to install and subscribe to various other things like a VPN service. I don't know much about VPN, but I think it is a service that intercepts your web activity and reroutes it through their servers and hides your trail. It sets off a series of red flags as to why you would need to hide your Internet trail if you are downloading and using KODI.

Anyway, I followed the YouTuber's very detailed instructions and installed KODI on my Fire TV. The app included something called a "build." I don't proclaim to understand it, but the build is how the programmers package everything for a program or app to work. It apparently contains all of the tools that work together to make the program work.


Monday, April 29, 2019

I'm being followed by a moon shadow


I watched the biopic First Man over the weekend. Actually I finished watching it. I started watching it on the airplane flying back from Memphis at the beginning of the month. First Man is the story of Neil Armstrong's journey to become the first man to set foot on the moon. Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong.

Ryan Gosling plays a very unemotional Neil Armstrong. Which is, I guess from what I've read about him, was basically true. There aren't many overly emotional test pilots and astronauts. Though it would have been kind of fun to see him take his first step on the moon and say, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind...Whoooee...momma, I'm on the moon MoFo's!"

I was 11-years old when Armstrong walked on the moon (followed by Buzz Aldrin who apparently no one in the astronaut program particularly liked). I'd followed the space program since its inception and wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid and didn't know it would involve lots of math and having good eyesight.

I was obsessed with Apollo 11. I have a box somewhere buried in a trunk that contains newspaper clippings and other memorabilia from the time. I even have a bronze medallion with the Apollo 11 mission theme that I wore to school around my neck until school bully John Zior knocked it off me on the playground.

The movie talks a bit about the controversy over the amount of money NASA was spending to get a man to the moon. Lots of talk about how much good they could have done with that money on earth. But as a kid, I thought it was worth every penny. I would think the same thing today, especially since Trump wants to spend more than it cost to go to the moon on a stupid wall.

And don't get me started on how much the U.S. spends on the military.


Friday, April 26, 2019

TikTok is not a clock but it ticks me off


"TikTok is the world's leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world's creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life." 
--About TikTok from tiktok.com
I only downloaded the TikTok app because my kids were talking about it and said all of their friends were using it.  I wanted to preview it in case they lobbied to use it.

Okay, there is no way I would let my kids use TikTok. Despite the creators lofty mission statement, the app is nothing but a forum for right wing rhetoric, depressed teens looking to hook up, cosplay groupies, people posting short videos of their cats, dogs and lizards, and random shit that couldn't make it on YouTube.

TikTok is like a low-rent version of Vine. And I'm ashamed to say, I watch it like watching a train wreck just to pass time on my commute or during my workout.  I wouldn't think of posting on TikTok because the community seems to use piranhas as their model for commenting on people's posts. It embodies the worst of social media's troll mentality.

Trust me, middle aged or older people will never be welcomed on on TikTok, creative or not. The prerequisite for content seems to be that you are redneck attractive, excessively tattooed, into Japanese anime or like to video stuff being blown up. Oh, and an excessive number of people who are a bit to attached to their pets.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

An Easter to dye for


I suppose I don't need to reiterate that I am not at all religious. I don't go to church. I don't pray. I don't believe in god. I've read portions of the bible and I know many of the stories, but I take no stock in them.

Yet I partake in the secular rituals that are based on religion like Easter.

Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ after he was crucified by the Romans. As a kid I enjoyed the ritual of dyeing eggs and putting out an Easter basket to get it filled with candy. And now that I have children of my own, I've continued the ritual.

But still, it seems like an odd holiday if I stop to think about it. Dyeing eggs seems to have little to do with the resurrection (although eggs are a symbol of rebirth). And I suppose the Easter bunny is another nod to pagan rituals of Sprint and fertility. Not sure where candy fits into the symbolism though. I imagine it was a marketing idea to make money off from the holiday.

Same with Easter brunch.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Amazon jungle

I got an e-mail from Amazon Associates today telling me my account was being closed because none of the ads I have allowed on my blog have generated any sales in 365 days. I was also told I must immediately remove all of the code that generates their ads from my blog. Then they thanked me for being an Amazon Associate.

Okay, I will be the first one to admit that my blog doesn't generate enough traffic to be a good place to advertise. I only do it out of this stubborn belief that some day I might actual get some revenue from blogging. Google has never cancelled my account because the Google ads that appear on my site don't generate traffic. I imagine they operate on the assumption that it doesn't cost them anything and even the occasionally hit on their ads on my site help drive the bottom line.

Amazon apparently has some standards and I don't live up to them. But don't blame me if your shitty ads don't get any attention. I'm just the messenger.

The irony is that I've pumped thousands of dollars into Amazon over the years. I actually think they they offer a great alternative to ever having to leave your home to buy anything. And I talk to Alexa all the time.

I do think Amazon has lost site of what they are in business for. Although I use them to buy lots of things, I've given up on them for last minute gifts for holidays like Valentines Day and Easter. One, their search function seems wacky and dredges up random items that don't match your search criteria. And although you can get crap you don't need delivered in one or two days, good luck having them save your procrastinating butt if you didn't buy Valentines or Easter gifts in advance.

I also don't like that you can't actually complain to a real person at Amazon. They have managed to successfully hide any avenue of providing real feedback to them. Oh, they are good at offering refunds or returns, but its all automated and you can't really tell them what you think or bitch about something taking a couple of weeks to get to you when it was supposed to arrive in two days.

Oh well, I got my resentment for being rejected by Amazon Associates off my chest.  But they will really regret it when my blog finally goes viral. I just need to consult the Mayan calendar to see when that will be.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dirt and weeds


Growing up, some of the chores I was required to do around the house included mowing lawn and weeding. Most of the weeding involved digging dandelions out of the grass. I didn't mind the weeding so much when it was in the vegetable garden, because I enjoyed planting things and nurturing them until they were grown plants. My favorites were corn and pumpkins.

I didn't like digging out dandelions because everyone who deals with weeds knows you pretty much have to get most of the root of a weed or it will simply grow back. Dandelions have huge tap roots that extend a remarkable depth into the soil. And our lawn was pretty dry most of the time, so getting a dandelion out with its tap root was near impossible for me. So I cheated and pulled the top part of the dandelion out so at least there was the appearance of being successful.

I also didn't much care for mowing the lawn because we had this old gas mower that was extremely temperamental and required cleaning spark plugs and messing with a choke. I don't do well with combustion engines, especially when there is a choke involved. Come to think of it, I don't even know what a choke is or does. But it could mean the difference between a gas mower starting and staying started.

I also didn't like mowing lawn as a kid because we had dogs. and inevitably you'd mow over dog crap. And in the summer heat, the smell of dog crap being mowed over just about made me toss my cookies.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Okay, I'm not that funny

It has only taken me almost 1300 blog posts to admit to myself that I'm really not as funny as I have always thought I was. I've mused about this over the years, but I really think I only did so that someone would pop up and tell me that I was just being silly and that I was the wittiest person alive.

Crickets.

My children have confirmed my lack of humor. On an almost daily basis they roll their eyes and mutter, "Not funny," when I spout some of my patented witticisms. For awhile I just figured their senses of humor just weren't mature enough to get my comic genius.  But the older they get (and I get), the less funny I seem.

It has become evident at work as well. I became annoyed at all of the random notices that were being posted next to the copy machine/printer. So I post my own sign reading:

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?
These are part of the lyrics from a group called Five Man Electrical Band that was released in 1970 when I was in 7th grade. I consider it pretty iconic. But none of the people at work seemed to get it. One person thought it was a poem someone had written and posted. Eventually someone just tore it down.


Friday, April 12, 2019

There is no future in the pasta


There are carbs, however. So that's something. And they do weigh heavily on our future.

But I'm already digressing.

If you've followed any of my meandering ramblings about living in the now and time being an artificial construct you'll know I am fascinated by the concept of life being a series of "now" and no "then." Though I struggle with letting go of then. Sometimes it seems like a better place then now.

There was a time (even though time doesn't exist) that I fantasized that all of my past "now's" were playing out simultaneously and all I would have to do was figure out how to slip into them to relive great moments. And who knows, maybe shift things around a bit to correct a few mistakes.

But "now" I pretty much believe there is no then to go back to. And let's face it, what would be the point. You'd have a few good now's that would quickly become then's and then you'd be right back where you started.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Walk into the night


I think we should replace all of the existing euphemisms we use for death with the simple phrase, "walk into the night." It sounds so much better than "passed on," "kicked the bucket" (which makes no sense anyway), "bought the farm" (also senseless), "croaked," "departed," "called home" (which happens to mean a lot when one of my kids is sick), "no longer with us" (which is something we also say after someone in the office is fired), "with the angels," "gave up the ghost," "left this mortal coil," "went belly up," "cashed in," "bought a pine condo," "cashed in," "is pushing up daisies," or "crossed over."

"Walk into the night," sounds gentle like slipping into a slumber. And it sounds so much better than "walk into the light," with its connotation of harsh light. I would rather slip softly into darkness, like the embrace of an old friend.

It also sounds better than, "What happened to Fred?"
"Fred's dead."
"Oh, what's for dinner?

Instead, "What happened to Fred?"
"He walked into the night."
"Oh, that sounds nice."

See.

Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about euphemisms for death. I did briefly when I was with my mother when she died. None of the euphemisms seemed appropriate. I was there. She didn't pass on or get called home. She died.

I didn't think much about it when my father died 21 years before that. I wasn't with him. So it was less that he died and more that he wasn't there any more. It's a subtle distinction, but you'd understand it if you'd experienced it.

We tend to say we are putting pets to sleep when we have them euthanized. And in fact the vets do put them to sleep before they kill them with a lethal injection. Hopefully it insures that they aren't suffering. But it is a sleep they never wake from.

Sort of like walking into the night.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How much is a thousand words really worth?


My post about my recent Elvis pilgrimage illustrates (no pun intended) that I tend to take a lot of photos. On my trip to Memphis, I took more than 450 photos with my Canon digital camera alone. And I must have taken another three hundred or so with my iPhone.

That's a lot of photos.

I have photo storage accounts on Amazon, Flickr and Apple. I gave up on physical drives to store images because I've had bad luck with disk failures. But I think I have close to 90,000 images in the Cloud.

That's a lot of photos.

I've made physical books using some of the photos, mainly highlights of big vacations. I made a huge book of the photos from my first trip to Graceland in 2018. I didn't think I'd be going back to Memphis the following year, so I'm not sure what to do with my new photos.

I accept that not all of the photos are great. Some are. I especially cherish the photos I've taken of my family. I'm less enamored of the photos of myself. Though that tends to be all I share on my blog. I do share lots of photos of my family on Facebook, however, but that is more of a protected environment.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Pilgrimage


"Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland"
Graceland by Paul Simon 
I have spent years denying that I am a hard core Elvis fan. This is despite years of posting on a blog called Dizgraceland and a having a past where I went by the name Tim-Elvis for a lark. And I protested that I wasn't an Elvis fan despite a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to visit spots where Elvis had been including Landmark Drugs where he had his prescriptions filled.


I suppose not everyone has an Elvis tree every year with a miniature Graceland at it's base.  And there is the bookcase chock full of just about every book ever written about the man. Okay and there is that complete collection of Elvis liquor decanters depicting the various stages of his life.

But the one thing that I felt separated me from the rest of the Elvis followers was that I'd never been to Graceland. Oh, I'd passed through the Memphis airport a couple of times, but I never had visited the holiest of all holy sights to those inflicted by King worship.

I stopped being able to claim that distinction when my wife surprised me last year on my birthday with a trip to Memphis to visit Graceland. And I'll be the first one to admit that I was pretty awestruck to take the VIP tour of the mansion and the museums across the street, marveling at the cars, memorabilia and minutia that are on display highlighting his short life.

And let's not forget the feeling of visiting the Meditation Gardens and the King's grave.

It was kind of a once in a lifetime experience that I thought I'd never repeat. And then low and behold circumstances led me and my family back to Memphis again this year and another trip to Graceland. And on this trip I also added a road trip to Tupelo to visit the birthplace of Elvis.

So I've pretty much run out of excuses for my fascination with the King.