August 30, 2010
Shopping Cart Hero
Jen, Piper, and I played Shopping Cart Hero 2 this weekend. Kinda fun, once you figure out how it works.
August 29, 2010
The Apple Store - Hell On Earth - Part I
You just can't know what the Apple store is like. I mean, I hate Apple. I loathe them with a kind of irrational, fomenting, vitriolic hatred that's difficult to put into words. If there were a Nobel prize for hatred, they'd give it to me when I told them how I felt about Apple.
And I hate the people that use these computers. The great unwashed pools of morons and circus pinheads that try to use them, as proficient as bears on bicycles they are.
But Jen and I went into an Apple store anyway because someone gave her a miserable iPod and six months into its life the thing is as useless as tits on a bull. We schedule an appointment online and then drive 40 miles to visit these nimrods in their lair at the Park Meadows Mall. Anyone that thinks there's a recession should see this mall parking lot. An urban nightmare, packed full of cars.
We wander around the mall aimlessly until we finally locate the Apple Store at the complete other end of the mall and we walk in. The place is set up like you might expect. All uber-sleek Apple-designed headache. Tables full of computers. Scads of geeks milling about with extremely gay blue-tooth hearing aids or cell phones or radios. I can't be sure.
Packed with people. Everyone talking at once. People standing in line a million deep to buy those stupid iPhones and iPads and iPods and you just can't know. You can't know how many people were in there all talking at once and we mill around until we find some woman that we're directed to and she tells us "Oh. I'm sorry. You missed your appointment."
Our appointment was at 2:20 p.m. MDT. It is 2:28 p.m. MDT when she tells us we've missed our appointment. We've wandered around the store for at least 5 minutes trying to find out where to go. We have driven 40 miles to this hell hole and wandered through the mall and then through the store to find this wench. I thought we'd get a medal. Instead, I'm told that the appointments are only 10 minutes long, and if you're not there within 11 seconds of your appointment, then it's canceled and nothing can be done.
Now, I don't know if I've told you already that I hate Apple, but I do. And this sends me into that raging fury where I want to go to Gander Mountain and buy a machine gun and come back and make the news. This stuff makes me go ballistic.
Every single person that we talked to in that store apologized to us like this...they said "I'm sorry that you missed your appointment." Like we're cavemen too dense to comprehend the rigors of an urban setting.
I explained to them repeatedly that we drove 40 miles to find the place and that we didn't miss our appointment. We were in the store within 2 minutes of our appointment and only a bunch of anal retentive lunatics would consider that "missing an appointment".
If you show up 8 minutes late for a dinner reservation, they normally haven't given away your table. But if they have, then they put you on the top of the list. But not the idiots at Apple. If you're 12 seconds late, then you don't exist.
Eventually, after about 27 people told us how sorry they were that we'd "missed our appointment", I decide that I'll smash the iPod to bits with a ball-peen hammer in front of God and everyone - the circus freak employees and the retarded customers alike - and announce loudly to the crowd that Apple's mindless products shouldn't be used by anyone clever enough to tie their own shoelaces.
But it's so loud that I doubt my voice could rise above the drone of all the morons there purchasing great stacks of electronics.
Instead, she gets a manager and they say they'll see what they can do and so we sit down at a table covered with those useless Apple computers and I promptly close mine because I promised that I swore on my ex-girlfriend's grave that I'd never touch an Apple computer again so long as I live and I've kept my promise so far. No reason to go back on a promise just because I'm bored.
So Jennifer and I sit there in this beehive nightmare of people too stupid to use a real computer being sold contracts with AT&T. Cell phone service so bad that they lied about the number of bars available on the phone. Phones so bad that engineers were fired over their performance.
I squeeze my eyes and try to go to a happy place. So long as they replace her ipod then this segue into the fiery pits of Apple hell will have been worth it, by some stretch of the imagination.
The store is staffed with circus freaks. Dwarfs and deformed oddities prance around the store like newborn fawns. I'm squeezing my eyes shut and praying for a sudden death.
Eventually, one of the geeks comes up and begins to fiddle with her iPod.
He keeps trying to deal with me. Jennifer is 12. It is her iPod. It's up to her. Not me. My solution involves a ball-peen hammer and a book of matches. So, he needs to be dealing with her. Not me.
But every single question is addressed to me. I'm leaning over a close Apple computer, foaming at the mouth. Chanting. Meditating. Praying for death.
For every question he asks, he completely ignores her, and directs at me, even though she's standing right next to him and explaining what's wrong with it. Communicating with him like a normal human. He ignores her completely.
I'm rocking back and forth in my own feces and he keeps asking me questions. He played with her iPod long enough to see for himself that it was, in fact, completely and royally screwed.
So he tells us that they'll replace it, but they don't have one in stock, and they can only replace it with the exact same one (they won't trade in her pink one for a purple one - like that's crazy, right? Are you insane?) And they'll order one and - get this - this is the best part - we have to come back and pick it up.
I'm like "Are you freaking kidding me? You can't mail it to us?"
"I'm afraid we can't," he lamented.
I'm like "You don't get mail service at the mall? I had no idea!"
But he couldn't be swayed and Jennifer said she'd come back with mom to pick it up and we fled that store like the wind.
Eventually, I went to drop Jennifer off and we saw where there'd be a horrific car crash on Morrison Road under C-470. We're watching them cut her out of the car with the jaws of life and they're spraying down her car to keep it from bursting into flames and I want to walk up to her and tell her how lucky she is not be 8 minutes late for an appointment with a broken iPhone in the Apple store, but she doesn't seem to be overly happy with her current predicament. That much is clear.
Evenutally, I made my way out to the airport. I thought my flight left at 9:30 p.m., but it actually left at 8:30 p.m. And the lines at the metal detectors were just unbelievable. Just a complete nightmare. A total breakdown - the kind that can only be traced back to government bureaucracy. So I'm standing there in line. It's 9:00 p.m. My flight left at 8:28 p.m. No real point in it, but I'm going out to the gate if they'll let me.
There's no point in going to the counter, because they won't let you go to the gate. Their goal is not to help you. Their goal is to keep you from getting on your flight. It's their primary purpose. So, you bypass them. I had a boarding pass I'd printed at the house. The only chance was to go out there, hope the flight was delayed, and try to get on the flight.
So, I go out there and get to Terminal B and, lo-and-behold, the flight is late. By 45 minutes. It's now departing at 9:15 p.m. And it's 9:11 p.m. So I have 4 minutes to get out to gate B-83. Now, if you're going to any terminal above B81, you've got a LONG way to go. You'll use at least 3 moving sidewalks, and there could be twice as many and you'd still have a long walk.
So, I hustle out there as fast as I can I get to the gate and the door is still open and I had the lady by boarding pass and she says "Oh no. This flight is closed. You missed it."
Now, this is how they work. They overbook the flights. Then they close the flights 15 minutes before it leaves, cancel all boarding passes, and let whoever is standing there get on the flight. It sucks, but that's how it works. And I know this. I'm late. And she's not in a mood to discuss the matter further.
Now, I'm really screwed because, these days, they're saying "your ticket is no longer valid and even if we did reticket you there' be a fee of like eleven million dollars" and I'm hosed in a big way and I know this. I'm not stupid.
"OK. Where do I go?"
"Sir. I told you the flight is closed!" she's repeating herself.
"I heard you. I asked where I'm supposed to go." LIke, the fact that you've screwed me out of my seat doesn't change the fact that I need to get to Madison.
Finally she hears me and steers me to the United service desk right behind me and I walk up to it and the woman beside me walks up to it and she says "I volunteered to be bumped from this flight and they sent me here."
So I step up to the ghastly United Airlines ticket troll beside her and I say "I volunteered to be bumped from the flight also."
And they hand me $400 in travel vouchers, a free hotel stay, a meal voucher, and put in on the first flight out in the morning in First Class. And things are looking up.
Update: Apparently I'm not the only one who believes that The Apple Store is Hell on Earth.
August 28, 2010
University of Wisconsin's Lakeshore Nature Preserve Picnic Point on Lake Mendota.
August 27, 2010
America's 10 Dead Cities
This is something I haven't seen before...a list of cities that have imploded and why they failed. Wish I'd seen this before I went to work in Detroit for a year.
August 24, 2010
Change 'Paste Special' Default to 'Unformatted Text'
I hate the idiots at Microsoft about as much as anyone, but the "Paste Special" default to "HTML Format" is just unbelievable. Like...really? You seriously thought that I chose "Edit - Paste Special" because I wanted to insert HTML formatted text? Seriously? Madness.
August 22, 2010
Bears Attack Bud's Beehives
Two bears got into Bud and Matt's beehives last night. Fortunately, Alice and her friends where out on the deck, heard the commotion, and yelled at the bears to scare them away. When that didn't work, she called for backup and the neighborhood posse came out in force.
By this time, the bears were rolling around in the grass getting stung by thousands of bees and not at all sure that they liked what they'd gotten into. The posse came and scared them off in a big way.
Today, the beehive was restrung with barbed wire and a new electric fence. So, hopefully that will stop them when they come back, which I have a feeling they'll do before too long.
Hopscotching the Continental Divide
This weekend, I drove the XR650L over 300 miles in 24 hours. It was a pretty serious little trek to cram into a weekend. Many places I'd not been in years. Some, I'd never been to before. Didn't take my GPS or anything, but I took the cameras and got a few snapshots which I'll post, time permitting.
Basic route was this...285 South to Park County Road 60. Across Webster Pass (12,114 ft) and then down into Summit County. Tried to ascend Radical Jeep Hill, but was not successful. The trail is steep and rocky, bike got crossways, I jumped off on the downhill side. Laid it down for the first time. Decided to got a different route. Turned around and came back down into Montezuma to Keystone. Swan Mountain Road to 9 South to Breckenridge then 9 North to Frisco where I refueled. As it got dark, I was shivering so bad I couldn't continue. I refueled in Frisco the trip meter said I'd gone 80 miles - I figured about half was hard top and half was dirt or 4wd trails.
Teeth chattering, I showed up at Brian's and he saved me by letting me crash for the night. (Thanks Brian).
Saturday morning woke up to a spectacular view of the Gore Range. Hit I-70 west to Vail Pass (10,662 ft) then up and across Shrine Pass(11,089 ft), and down to Wearyman Creek. Up Wearyman Creek (FDR728), which is basically driving up a rocky creekbed for a few miles - not especially easy. Up over the Ptarmigan Pass (11,777 ft) and down Resolution Road (Forest Service Road 702) to Camp Hale (10th Mountain Division).
Then west on US 24 to Red Cliff for lunch at Mango's Mountain Grill. Then east on 24 up over the Tennessee Pass (10,424 ft) and down into Leadville aka "Cloud City (10,200 ft). When I refueled in Leadville, the trip meter said 160 miles.
In downtown Leadville, take East 7th Street to Lake County Road 3 up over Mosquito Pass (13,185 ft). Then, down Park County Road 12 to US 285 just south of Alma. North on Colorado Highway 9 across Hoosier Pass (11,542 ft) and back down into Breckenridge.
From Breckenridge, up Boreas Pass road across Boreas Pass (11,481 ft), back down into Park County ghost town of Como. North on US 285 to Jefferson where we stopped to snag some Praline Fudge. Then up across Kenosha Pass (10,000), down into Bailey. Up Crow Hill and finally back to the house. Trip meter said I'd gone something crazy like 293 miles in just under 24 hours. Pretty cool ride.
Update: I've added some photos. As I look at the images, it doesn't look like the roads I took are all that treacherous. Probably most of the trails that I took weren't considered "Expert" level trails. Maybe they were "Moderate" trails. But when I was going up the steepest, gnarliest hills, I wasn't taking a lot of photos. Usually, at that point, I was hanging on for dear life and praying I didn't fall a few hundred feet to my death. Some of these roads are, at times, extremely narrow, steep, and rocky. You've been warned. ;)
Update 2: Although you don't see my helmet in any of these images - trust me. I was wearing one. I'm not that stupid. I just took it off for the photos.
Update 3: I found some photos from the last time I went over Mosquito Pass in July of 2005.
August 20, 2010
First Day of 7th Grade
This photo (above) just totally reminded me of Molly Ringwald in Sixteen candles so I photoshopped her in (poorly).
August 18, 2010
The Great Dane
Tonight, after work, I drove down into Madison and onto the University of Wisconsin campus for the first time. I wanted to get down to the lake and it's not as easy as you might think - on Lake Mendota anyway. Deal is that it's all set up for bicycles, but not really so much for cars. So the roads go toward the lake and then end. That's sorta how that goes so in any event, I drove until I ended up at a little trailhead of sorts and parked and got out. I walked down to "Picnic Point" on Lake Mendota.
I should mention that this place is a lot more like Austin than I would have guessed. It's a midwestern town...so be it. But it's a University town and a state capital and, right now, it's hot and humid like Austin.
So I'm walked down this little groomed walking trail for bikes hikers and such. I was really surprised that they have little picnic places set up and campfire pits and even chords of stacked, cut wood for the camp fires. Very cool little spot.
Then, I went to the Great Dane downtown which Dean had told me about and it's a hip little brew pub/restaurant with wifi. Very cool place to hang out.
August 14, 2010
This week, I received all of my camera gear back from Canon. So now, I've got three working lenses, three working cameras, and 1 working speedlite flash. Now that I have my cameras working, I plan to fly into Yellowstone next weekend to see if I can't break them again.
Above: Female Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria).
Today, while the girls were engaged in a futile but desperate attempt to dam up North Turkey Creek with rocks, I wandered around and shot these photos of a flock of Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria). These shots are not very good, of course, but the bird is very small and equally shy and this today was the first time I'd ever seen it.
Above: Male Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria).
Above: Male Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria).
What Price Summer?
Jennifer and Allie started out by checking on the baby western bluebirds. They're clearly ready to fledge any day now. Then, off to Morrison for ice cream. Then to Turkey Creek to explore the creek and a tunnel. Then down to Evergreen to eat dinner on the lake and feed the ducks. Summer seems like it's going by so fast.
August 12, 2010
I was in Madison for the week. Weather was hot and humid. Really didn't get out to take many photos. Only a few snaps here and there.
August 9, 2010
August in Colorado
August 7, 2010
Camping at West Chicago Creek
We went camping up at West Chicago Creek campground. I've been there before, but Jen never had. It's not far from the house (about 45 mins) and is fairly scenic. We camped out at probably about 10,000 feet above sea level. Jen even managed to catch a brook trout. Plus, of course we drove up to Echo Lake and fed the ducks. Why not, right?
We started running Bluebird Trail yesterday, and saw that we have four healthy happy Western Bluebird chicks, but then Jen got distracted by the garden and started harvesting squash and radishes.
August 5, 2010
Jen and I went back to the lake today but first, we went to the grocery store and I sent her in to beg for day-old-bread for the ducks. They loaded her up and we paddled the canoe out into the lake. This time, we were surrounded by ducks and geese. At one point, I counted 31 ducks/geese around the canoe. And then, a Mallard hen showed up with 9 baby ducks following her. Very cute. I'll post photos later.
Update: Photos added.
Zoobombers Ride Again!
A bunch of Portland punks take their bikes on the MAX (free lightrail) and ride to the zoo exit. Here, they get off and take an elevator up to the zoo on top of the hill. This basically puts them high atop the hills just west of town. Then, they get high in the park, and race their bikes downhill at breakneck speed to Rocco's where they grab some pizza, and do it all over again.
It's sort of what people do in the socialist utopia that is the United States. I know because I rode with them when I was in Portland. They even got in trouble when the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force failed to see the humor in a "Bomb the Zoo - Not Iraq" sign.
But that was a long time ago.
Now, apparently, they've upped the ante a bit and they're riding (bombing) down Ft Hood. It's all fun and games until someone wipes out on the downhill run and has to be airlifted off the mountain.
August 4, 2010
John Steinbeck - The Pearl
Above: Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus), formerly Caracara cheriway.
Jennifer and I just finished reading "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck. I love the way he writes, but of course, I had to point out to her that the moral to the story isn't necessarily one we need to take to heart as, like so many talented left-brainers, he's practically a communist. The Grapes of Wrath is one of the best books I've ever read, but it was little more than a clarion call for socialism. I think my mom was ready to strangle me after I read it.
One thing found interesting about "The Pearl" is that it was set in Baja California del Sur in the town of La Paz.
In the early 20th century, this area was the chief producer in the world's pearl fishing industry. The pearl beds that made the area world famous for four centuries stretched from La Paz to Loreto and even as far north as Muleje. But the pearl beds have been decimated by overfishing and a mysterious disease.
La Paz is a town that I rolled into for the first time last October. Nearly out of gas, I rolled downhill out of the desert on fumes toward La Paz and the Sea of Cortez. Very glad, once again, to be out of the cruel desert. I was actually in La Paz twice because I did a little loop at the bottom of the Baja peninsula. All of these photos were taken in La Paz or the outskirts of La Paz (including Pichilingue) in October of 2009.
MS Outlook / MS Word Hangs on Insert File Dialog
I couldn't figure out what was going on with MS Outlook. Every time I tried to attach a file to an email, Outlook would hang up for some time. This is when you wish you had some magical application that would say "show me what you're doing right now, computer". But I googled and found this post. They seem to indicate that invalid drive mappings could cause this behavior. So, I checked and sure enough, I had about three network drive mappings in Windows Explorer that couldn't be resolved. So, I disconnected every network drive mapping that wouldn't resolve. Hopefully that will solve my problem.
Update: Yep. That fixed it. :)
Fire in Morrison
Not clear how it started, but a good chunk of land burned up on the Dakota Ridge Hog Back down near Morrison. It's been burning for a few days now. I got a few shots of it I'll post later.
Update: Photos posted.
August 2, 2010
Sony Vaio Dingleberries
August 1, 2010
Gilpin County in August
Wendy and I went for a little ride today through Gilpin County (named after the 1st Governor of the Colorado Territory - William Gilpin). We went up Golden Gate Canyon nearly to the Moffat Tunnel, then back through Coal Creek Canyon. It was mostly rainy, but we managed to snap a few shots along the way.
Saturday at the Lake
Jen and I went to the lake on Saturday and paddled around a little bit. We didn't catch anything, but it wasn't like it mattered. We fed the ducks and watched the cormorants, tree swallows, and muskrats.
Another Drive Crash...
My laptop crashed today. Went out to dinner and booted it up to load my photos onto and the laptop wouldn't boot up. I got the Blue Screen of Death and "UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME". Sucks.
I dunno what to attribute this to...static electricity...bad luck...who can tell?
It sucks because I had all of my photos on there from Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Evans...you name it. I'd not copied them onto my RAID server yet, so I've probably lost all of the originals, which sucks, of course.
I dug around and found a couple of 3 1/2 laptop hard drives. I actually had a problem with this drive before when I was in Mississippi last year. It was acting squirrely then, so I ordered a replacement drive and had the new drive sort of half-way working when I went on my trip across Mexico. However, for whatever reason, the C: drive showed up as the E: drive, which caused too many problems to go into. And after I left MS, the old drive started working again, so I just swapped them back around one night in Mexico and that was that.
So, now that the drive appears to have crashed (again), I guess I'm sort of back to the drawing board.
I inserted an XP3 install disk and went into the recovery console. Did a "chkdsk c: /p /r" command. It's running something.
Hmmm...it ran for about an hour or so. Then, it said it was complete and had fixed some errors. I notice that my c: drive is almost completely full. I reboot it normally (not safe mode) and voila! It works. :) Thank the Lord I didn't lose all of my photos from Mount Evans and Rocky Mountain National Park. That would have sucked in a major way.
Update: I think that what happened was that I wrote so much data onto the c: drive that it crashed. When I checked, it said 86.5 Gig was used and there was only 647MB free.
Apple - It Just Works! (not)
So I have the pleasure of setting up a super-tricked-out new computer from the Apple store for someone. Opened it up out of the box and got to hook everything up. Wireless keyboard. Wireless touch-pad mouse. 27" screen. 4 Gigs of Ram. A smoking 3.2 GHz Mac with 4 Gigs of RAM running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.4).
This is the first Mac I've used that doesn't eject the CD ROM out the side of the monitor where you watch amazed as it rolls across the floor. PC's don't do that. They use something new called "gravity" to hold it in place.
The "Genius"es down at the Apple Store even copied over all of the data from the old computer.
So last night, we start uncrating the unholy thing and guess what? Setting up the free printer was no easier than setting up a printer on a WIndows PC. It was a total pain. Hooking up USB cables and power supply cables...installing ink cartridges...printing...scanning...you name it.
So, finally we get the printer working and get the computer connected to the internet only to discover that Mail won't work. Big nasty error message that says "You can't use this version of the application Mail.app with this version of Mac OS X. You have Mail.app 3.6"
And the computer can't open PDF files for some reason. Now, mind you...this is the first Mac I've used in my life that actually has a Left and Right Mouse button, something the PC had over 20 years ago.
Good job, Apple. Well played. Fortunately, the Apple "Just Works" while the PC's suck so bad. Not!
So I got Apple Tech Support on the phone today and the guy walked me through some arcane steps. We drug the Mail.app into the trash can. (Finder - Applications - Mail.app).
Then, we had to dig up the original install discs that came with the Mac (which had mysteriously disappeared during the night) and reinstalled the Mail app from the install discs.
Then, we had to go to the Apple web page and download some insanely large Mac OS X v.10.6.4 Combo Update. (Apple.com/downloads - click Support in upper right corner - View all support downloads - Mac OS X 10.6.4 Update Combo). This file is an 887 Meg monstrosity that currently indicates it will take roughly 4 hours to download (Most DVD movies will rip into less than 750 Megs of disk space).
So, here I sit...hovering...for 3 hours...without access to email...waiting for Apple to download some nightmarish file into the brand-spanking new Mac.
Apple. It Just Works! (not).
And what kills me is this. If you run into some Apple user, 99% of the time they'll sing the praises of Apple. "Oh my god it's the best computer ever made!!11!!11!!" And then they'll wave their arms for effect like Merlin the magician and wipe the drool from their chin with an almond encrusted scone while sipping a triple-venti half-caff Starbucks. You think I'm making this up, but this is how these people are. They're a cult. And they sing the praises of Apple because they're drinking the Kool-Aid.
The difference is that people that own PC's tend to be more objective. They don't foam at the mouth when talking about their computer experiences, and as a rule, are more capable of objectively recognizing and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the multi-company battlefield that is the PC in general, and of the Windows O/S in particular.
Whereas most Apple owners talk about their computer like it's a magical flying unicorn.
The truth of the matter is that the Apple, in my experience, is no easier to own or operate than a regular PC.