Thursday, December 31, 2015

Random thoughts at the end of the year

So another year ends...

Good bye 2015. I don't think too many will miss you.

I won't write about the high points or low points of 2015. Most people already know what they are. And I find as time goes on that I'm getting more cynical about – well pretty much everything.

I do have some observations to share:

– Gallup poll results for the most admired man in the world in 2015:

1.  Barack Obama 

2. (Tie) Pope Francis/Donald Trump

Now those two would make great dancing partners, wouldn't they? One is so good, the other is so bad.

I just said "Huh?"

And I could go into my opinion about this, but it doesn't matter, it won't make a difference, and no one cares.

But I will say: Pope Francis – you rock!

– Now how about that Miss Universe FarceComedy, Gong Show, Pageant?

I have no comments. But I do question the relevance. I mean, what difference does it make to the world [using the word Universe is kind of a stretch] if someone from one country is declared the prettiest, most talented, smartest  of them all? 

After all, quoting our Canadian leader – "because it's 2015!" 

And I think in the interests of equality, there should be a Mr. Universe  contest. Not like those old body-builder or weightlifting ones, but a contest where a man chosen from each country in the universe  world  parades around in a tuxedo, a speedo, and says a few things about world peace and homeless children ...

Never happen.

– Nothing important, nothing earth shattering, just talking the other day about that old phrase, "Every Tom, Dick and Harry."

This has been around since 17th or 18th century, depending on which source one looks at.

Got me thinking... I do know a Tom. But I don't know any Dicks, [well, maybe I do]. And I don't personally know any Harrys. Well, everyone knows Prince Harry and maybe Dirty Harry, Harry Potter, Harry Houdini...

Like I said, nothing important there.

– A few personal items that recently occurred:

At four in the morning of Christmas day, son's dog Roxy had to make an emergency trip to the dog hospital.

Not too many open at four in the morning on Christmas day, but luckily there was one in Langley, well staffed, even, and they were able to fix what ailed her.

And on December 29th, just after 11:30 p.m., while I was working on my computer I heard the sound of a thousand thunderclaps,  a noise I can only describe as huge. Like a big truck crashing into my house [except it didn't move] or an airplane took out the next block of homes, or an asteroid hit the earth.

I did not equate the noise with an earthquake until my son came upstairs and said that's what it was. Nothing moved in my office, nothing swayed or fell off the shelves [and my bookshelves are top-heavy]. There were no flickers of power, the Internet stayed on...

But yes, a 4.8 or 4.9 earthquake struck Vancouver Island a few kilometres northeast of Victoria. And of course today everyone's talking about the big one coming, how we are overdue for it. This type of talk occurs after every shaker in the area.

If there's one thing we can't prevent its earthquakes, so it'll come when it comes. Let's not wring our hands as we wait for it to happen.

– One more thing. The year 2016, when whittled down to its universal number is the number 9. Numerologists state that 9 is the end of a cycle and often marks the completion of things.

Guess we won't know what is completed until it happens.

So Happy New Year, happy 2016 to everyone!

– Cat

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas

Santa Claus wears a Red Suit. He must be a communist. And a beard and 
long hair, Must be a pacifist. What's in that pipe that he's smoking?
--Arlo Guthrie

Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of this day - the birth of Santa?
--Bart Simpson (Matt Groening)  

There are three stages of man: he believes in Santa Claus; he does not believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus.
--Bob Phillips

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
-- George Carlin


Christmas Shopping
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'
--Dave Barry

When we recall Christmas past
we usually find that the simplest things,
not the great occasions,
give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
--Bob Hope    

Have a good one!
– Cat

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Some nonsense

What yogurt do you want, my husband asked this morning.  There's a pear, a coconut, and a vanilla.

Hey that would make a great joke: a pear, a coconut, and a vanilla, walked into a bar. . . .

And now I'm trying to figure out a way of making it funny.

– Cat

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On the eve of election day ...

On the eve of Canada's election day, we are helped to keep things in perspective by the wise words of those who came before.

Political quotes by writers, philosophers, leaders, comedians, politicians...

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
--George Orwell.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

--H. L. Mencken.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
--Mark Twain

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen
--Winston Churchill

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word
--Charles De Gaulle

Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen
--Bob Edwards

Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.
--George Burns

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
--Napoleon Bonaparte


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reality TV to the extreme

I was scrolling through the  guide on my television, just to see what was on.

Surprised that there was a show called America's Worst Cocks.

The show could have been about birds [it was after all on the food  network] but I didn't pause to check.

However, that did not stop me from wondering:
– what kind of selection process did the producers use?
– were there auditions?
– was this like a survivor show, where someone gets voted off the island each week?
– or, maybe it was like The Voice or Idol, where judges  choose the worst? What kind of talent would be involved here?

The title actually was America's Worst Cooks.

Really though, would anybody care who was the worst cook?  Can't imagine being the person to determine this – they'd have to taste awful meals. What fun is that?

I guess we can just file this under time to get your eyes checked.

– Cat

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hunt for extraterrestrial life

I love this.

From CBC news:

Billionaire Yuri Milner, Stephen Hawking back $100M hunt for extraterrestrial life. Breakthrough Listen will search for radio signals that could indicate intelligent life.

Russian tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking are pushing the search for extraterrestrial life into higher gear. The pair said Monday the $100 million "Breakthrough Initiatives" program funded by Milner will harness computer power as never before in a search of the heavens.

I guess the time is right. If there is intelligent life out there, in any way shape or form, I would like to find out in my lifetime. Perhaps so would the billionaire and the physicist.

Okay, I have this dumb idea that there will be a spaceship call the Minnow. Aboard it there will be a captain, a billionaire [with or without his wife], a physicist, maybe a movie star or two, surely a reporter, say a paparazzi type, and a goofball we could call Gilligan. They could head out on a 300 billion mile cruise and crash land on a planet, and spend the next ten years trying to return to earth. This dumb idea of mine could become a movie, or even a TV series. Whether this will be comedy or drama is too soon to tell.

Okay, I digress.  Easily.

But don't think I'm taking this "listening for space sounds" lightly. I'm not. I sincerely hope there is someone out there, someone brave and good who may be sending out signals from their end to see if there is other life in the universe.

Of course since I heard this I can't get a certain sound out of my head:


On the other hand, what if humans, humanoids, aliens, robots, and freaks want universal dominion and take the "meet and greet" to the next level? I recall the Cold War. In the freezing void of space, we could call it the Ice War.


And, speaking of movies and theoretical alien planets, I can't fail to mention the brave voyagers on the Starship Enterprise. Yeah, the original series was my favorite. The mission statement: Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

 People said I had my head in the clouds. Not true. My head is in the stars.

– Cat

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Rise of the Machines

So, the future is now. All those books and movies about machines going on a rampage will be proven prophetic.

Apparently a robot at a German Volkswagen assembly plant killed a worker. The robot's job was to move car parts around. These big robots are usually confined by steel cages so that they don't have any contact with humans. How did this robot get out of his cage so he could strike the worker in the chest and crush him? 

Officials claim this "accident" was caused by human error, not by a vengeful robot.

Sure. Blame the victim. Dumb humans will get fired; clever robot lurches away unscathed.

This is the first such murder that we hear about. There may have been more in the past that those-who-think-they-are-in-charge kept under wraps to keep the robots from rioting.

But count on it. This is only the beginning.

Within the next few years this same plant will be using smaller robots that will not be in steel cages and will work alongside humans on the assembly lines. Whoa! Then it'll be open season. Bad enough they're stealing jobs.

And if anyone thinks worker robots are benign and helpful to man, and those books and movies were only shock fiction and could never come true, all I can say is – remember 1984?

– Cat

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Musical interlude

 This first one is Billy Joel and friends doing his signature song from 1973.


And why this particular song started going around in my head, I have no idea. Various versions of the song have been around 1945.

-- Cat


Thursday, May 14, 2015

More this and that

The Lilac Bush

It blooms beautifully every spring. But in the eleven years we've lived here the flowers have never had that dearly familiar lilac scent. Now this year, perhaps our last in this house, that well-remembered scent has burst forth with the blossoms. The sweet fragrance wafts through the yard, the house, my office.

Why the flowers chose this year to give us this gift is a mystery. Is it their way of saying goodbye? Poetic fancies aside, it's probably due to the unseasonably warm weather earlier this year. Another oddity this spring--a couple of rhododendrons changed from pink to deep red.

The whims of nature? Climate change? Or a sweet sad farewell...


What I Learned Watching the Nature Channel

1. When a victorious lion takes over a new pride, he kills all the cubs that are not his.
[Did the Disney people know this when they made the Lion King?]

2. Wildebeest moms make sure they give birth around ten in the morning because by nightfall the calf needs to be able to run from predators. [Like the lion who killed all the cubs.]

I admire the wildebeest moms, but have no kind words for the lion males. Yeah, I know it's nature, the circle of life and all that, but still...


Nouns Becoming Verbs

On a recent TV show, an FBI agent said to a bad guy, "I'm going to end you." On the same show one character said to another about an upcoming meeting, "are we going to conversate..."

I checked the Internet for these usages, and yes, they've been noted as part of dialogue in some areas of the country.

That just goes to prove that language is not writ in stone.


An interesting Video

The one-man orchestra is exactly that. Ben Morfitt, known as Squid Physics, the creator of this video, composed the music and recorded himself playing every instrument. I think he did a fantastic job!

–– Cat

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Computer Gripes

~So, I installed an update this morning for one of my programs. Of course, it wanted to include several additional useless-to-me programs, which I refused.  "The update and nothing but the update."

Well, does vengeance know no bounds? After the installation, all the icons on my screen were rearranged. There was no method to the madness [rearrangement].  I spent half an hour putting them in order and discovered that one had vanished. Another half hour tracking down the missing icon.

Who said computers were helpful, benevolent machines that would make our lives easier? Did anyone say that?

Maybe the computers are  neutral; it's the programmers who enjoy messing around.

~When I got my last computer it came preloaded with the word processing program Microsoft Word. It was there for a limited trial, after which I'd have to buy it.  I was using Corel WordPerfect at the time, so ignored the Microsoft program and loaded my Corel program.

Then I noticed all my WordPerfect files had transformed into Microsoft Word files. Creepy. I discovered that particular computer [I'm betting it was the Windows XP operating system] did not support two different word processing programs. They were in conflict with each other, duking it out, and the global behemoth Microsoft Word won.

I simply uninstalled Microsoft Word, and solved the problem.

Then I got another computer, this time with the Windows 7 operating system. No problem supporting two or more word processing programs. However...
Although I was perfectly happy using WordPerfect--easy to use, efficient, did the trick beautifully--can things ever stay ideal in computer world?

Because WordPerfect files were not easily readable by those who didn't have the program, I knew someday I would have to transfer my files to the one everyone uses--Microsoft Word. I swallowed my distaste and bought Word 10.

First of all, this program seems to have a thousand bells and whistles that made my eyes glaze over. I sensed trouble ahead. The copy and paste functions worked fine for transferring files. Inserting a header was fairly easy. But try numbering the pages.  When I hit what everyone would–the insert page number function–I got my page numbers all right. But the rest of the header was wiped clean.

What had been a simple action in WordPerfect became a puzzle of grand proportions.  Help was, well, helpful. But, really, who would normally look for something called "quick parts" to insert numbers in your header? Even then, this supposedly simple action was hidden in something called "field" in which you scroll down a long list until you come to, not "numbers," but "page." 

I don't know how others feel about this, but I think whoever created the program  had their head screwed on backwards. I picture a hundred programmers in a room, divvying up sections of this, and maybe other, programs, and laying bets on who can make theirs the most obtuse and dumb and time-consuming to use.

I was further convinced that I was right when I looked for the setting for indents. line spacing, and paragraph breaks. I honestly thought these would all be under the tab "page layout."

Ha ha. Of course not. On the home page there is a small word "paragraph" in the toolbar with a teeny tiny arrow pointing sort of down. And when you click that arrow, voilĂ -- the necessary settings appear. 

Okay so I got that done, but I passionately dislike the program. There's a new WordPerfect program that is apparently compatible with Microsoft, and I may, if this frustration keeps up, upgrade to the new one. But I fear that it will have been so changed from the simple one I had that it may be as complicated to use as Microsoft Word.

And now I will also have to soon give up, for other reasons, my Quattro Pro spreadsheet, and use [gag] Excel. Another efficiency lost. 

~Each new computer I bought has the latest version of Windows operating system. I have 20+ years of using different versions, and though each upgrade provided more features, it took just as many away, or buried them somewhere.

For example, I don't often use the Run command. But I needed to use it the other day and it was nowhere in visible sight. [Seems it was always somewhere I could see it.] Now some programmer [see above comments about them] decided to make this a game of hide and seek.  You have to click "start" then "all program" then "accessories" then there it is!

I would have never thought to look under accessories for the Run command.

Well, those in the know would call me computer illiterate. In the greater scheme of things, I guess I am. I just don't think "more difficult" means "better."

Like all the smart cars, appliances, TVs and phones, I want a smart computer. Must be out there somewhere, or coming soon.

-- Cat