hotmailSo I haven’t posted here in over three months. My stats indicate daily visits are down under ten. Yet, mysteriously, I have nearly thirty notifications in my e-mail of new followers — all with hotmail addresses and none of whom appear in the list of those following the blog here on WordPress. What’s up?

Facebook LogoOn Facebook I recently have been fed up with dextremist garbage and periodically respond to the wickedly wrong crap that gets posted. For many months, perhaps even a year, I’d held my, ah, typing fingers, attempting, unwisely, to be “fair.” Once I post contrarian comments, the blitz of ghostly followers… Coincidence?


Yet I wonder.

ghost iconAnd I am again, however briefly, and/or sporadically, back. Unlike, currently, the U.S. government (ridiculously pretending to “defund” the ACA has nothing to do with continuing resolutions in lieu of an actual budget, Greedily Opportunistic Poopyheads).

Happy, spectral new “fans?”

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

For the Fam

Having just recently sent letters off to my aunt and my distant, Minnesota-immured brother, I realized that those two, however intermittent my correspondence may be, are far more up to date on the lives of The Lovely One and me than any of my siblings or the rest of my kith and kin (the undoubtedly most frequent visitors to the blog). so for their benefit, I thought I might post a brief review of recent months for us here in Our Town…

First, I evidently do have a job ahead this summer, the Republicansʼ wicked refuge of sequestration (permitting them as ever to continue doing what they do worst — nothing) notwithstanding. Things will change this summer, and my employment will only be part-time (it was already merely seasonal). The very fact that a year ago I was already at work (within a day or four) evinces the difference. I feel excited — not the least because My Beloved is already growing intoxicated at vacation possibilities (that I need a job to fund).

A hint on the destination?

Zgubiłem się. Czy pan mówi po angielsku?

(But more on that in future. Right now, thereʼs nothing booked and just a Lonely Planet Encounter travel book in hand.)

Last week, exactly to the day as I write (but may not have sufficient afternoon ahead to post), our mailbox got “vandalized” — accidentally damaged, we think, in reality, based on the evidence we could observe:

  1. tire tracks veering into the gutter and apparently onto the curb,
  2. the door on the box getting bent and the latch twisted in the direction of the bending,
  3. the iron pole on which the box was mounted bent nearly forty degrees,
  4. no damage to the neighborʼs box right beside ours and first in line for damage.
Ours was rusty ad had long ago lost its little red flag

Ours was rusty ad had long ago lost its little red flag

We (neighbor Levi and I) concluded that a semi or big truck must have caught the latch and the door with the trailer or box of the vehicle, wrenching the whole mailbox askew (and almost apart) before releasing its unintended hold as the large vehicle made its turn to the nursing home across the street. We bet the driver didn’t even know what he had done, sheltered high up in his cab on the far side of his truck.

Anyway, we have now spent sixty-some bucks on a new, modern box, and I still have to buy a 4×4 post on which to place the new thing (not to mention, with Leviʼs assistance, dig out the old pole — on its concrete base, if itʼs at all like their old box was — install the new wooden post and get the mailbox upright upon its stand).

In other damage news, I broke my glasses about six weeks back, removing my balaclava as I arrived a the hospital to work out, the woolen facemask pulling my glasses away from my head to crash and break on the concrete floor. I got new frames (the style, however, being now defunct, I was “lucky” to get a stockpiled pair from across the Atlantic) and spent over a hundred dollars.

And in other optical news… Just over a week ago, Janet had a day off from work for her annual eye exam (now to change to semi-annual — Iʼll explain) which she has endured/enjoyed ever since her detached-retina surgery back in 2008 or ʼ09. This yearʼs was supposed to be in May (the ophthalmologist was trying to let her avoid snowy/icy roads that hadnʼt yet interfered for her formerly February appointment), but we got a call earlier in the moth letting her know that the doctor would be unavailable at the scheduled time in May, so she reset for March 27.

This was her first afternoon appointment so far (the next will be back to morning, we already know), and everything ran smoothly — particularly so since we got to sleep in relatively late (at least for us). However, there was big news: as had been predicted right after her surgery, she is beginning to develop a post-surgical cataract and will eventually need to have the lens in her eye replaced. This is not altogether bad news (or even bad news at all, she insists). The surgery so changed the shape of her eyeball that she is hugely nearsighted in that eye now (way, way worse than she was normally/previously), and that problem, which leaves her with great difficulty reading, could be resolved with a surgically implanted corrective lens replacement. However, her insurance pretends that simply replacing her lens is “elective cosmetic surgery” and will not pay for it (as though being able to see is in any way “cosmetic” whatsoever), but they do pay for cataract surgery. She has been kind of waiting for her predicted post-surgical cataract to develop so she can get her lens replaced and help her vision. We are to return in September (a six-month gap, scheduled to avoid overlapping my then-potential work schedule, to which I guess we now must get accustomed as the ophthalmologist keeps tabs on her developing situation).

Hmmm… what else?

We took a few days away from home to visit Schaumburg (that means Ikea) and St. Charles (to again find a favorite restaurant had closed — this one shuttered with a police notice on the door, scarily) for The Lovely Oneʼs birthday. Stephen and Aunt Alaire got the tedious details on both (and I could upload the same for a future post, too — there was some amusement involved periodically, along with the shopping and dining).

And more or less (neglecting that both of us are currently and mysteriously suffering back pain, mine inventively resembling what I imagine passing a kidney stone might be like — thus limiting our exercise regimens a little just now) thatʼs our news.

Posts of more general interest to come?

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Nothing to Say?

So, itʼs two months and a week since my last post. What else isnʼt new?

Well, jaw-droopingly enough, The Lovely One  has actually asked me to try posting regularly. (I know — tradition holds she hates any time I spend at the computer, even writing, and she has always thought my pathetic posts here on Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog were, uh, pathetic.) So at her behest more or less, letʼs  conclude the ten-week hiatus:

ClocksI have been doing nothing much with those 69 days. nearly nothing at all. (I did finish and revise a short story to submit for possible publication — the result still suspended in the atmosphere somewhere/somewhen. “Scholarsʼ Folly” takes Søren, sans Judah, from northeastern Iberia to Córdoba for a really bad day with supernatural intrusions, his subsequent ethical self-flagellations being reserved for what will become the following chapter in the final novel. However, that effort filled less than a week, really, the original composition having been part of my NaNoWriMo 2012 enterprises. The revised product was e-mailed for editorial consideration way back in mid-January.)

Today, having actually gotten a break from nearly daily snowfall (no lie — culminating in three days of flood-inducing rain), punctuated by regular weekly blizzards (both requiring me to shovel rather than head out to exercise first thing in the darkness before dawn), I did my time on the elliptical and came home feeling genuinely determined to do something (for once) today.* So here I am pecking away…

Unfortunately with nothing to say.

You see, that (lack of postable content) has been the major problem (other than lazily and worthlessly diddling all my time away each day) preventing the blog from acquiring updates. Nothing to say…

(And when I consider all that I found myself able to blather in 2010 when I did the post-a-day thing so glibly and logorrhea-cally, perhaps the current chastity of content seems less pitiful and more prudent. Perhaps.)

The same lackluster life (mine) has also prevented me from keeping my letter-writing particularly current (and I do need to write both to my long-suffering aunt and communication-deprived bother later today or no later than tomorrow). I havenʼt even added more than a few thousand words to my creative endeavors. Plenty of mental composition but nearly nary a word even smartpenned to paper for eventual upload into the (contemptibly frustrating) digital presumed-reality.**

However, even with this despicable deficiency of (for equally miserable want of better terminology) subject matter, I felt as though I must post something. So this drivel is it.


* Of course, my eff-viscerating, worthless computer has had other ideas: those first few sentences have taken some seventy minutes to get on the screen, as multitudes of pointlessly intrusive background processes have taken over the computerʼs processor cycles ahead of my considerably-less-than-feeble keyboard smashing (but regardless how fiercely I punch a key, for some reason Spotlight uselessly updating its database or the virus-protection programʼs mercilessly intrusive “Behavioral Injection” activities take precedence regardless). Yep, nothing has changed; and the computerʼs incompetence frustrates me and drives me away from the infernal screen/mouse/keyboard to do something that might seem potentially productive (or at least less emotionally traumatic) — like reading the Kindle instead (but more on that tomorrow). Appleʼs demonic apparatus and its meddlesome softwares even contrived to get me to delete somehow the original final sentences of the parenthetical conclusion of the paragraph above the one to which this footnote appends.

** And now, suddenly there is no ceaseless drive-grinding (blessed silence on that front for my tinnitus to fill with ethereal cacophony of unreal audio-effervesence instead), and the menu meter indicates merely four percent of the memory and processor active — thus my letters and words actually transfer from brain-and-fingers through the keyboard to the machine and thus the screen (and eventually, we hope, onto you). Astonishing.

Facebook Timewaste

Once again, I do have reports on reading (and recommendations thereby/fore), not to mention some travel and maybe even other items, for future posts — assuming as inevitably ever, the damned device permits.

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Oh, Yeah, Sadly, Itʼs “Tech Frustration (5)”

…evidently also known as the “marble of doom”

Among the (many) complaints registered at the (ineffably slow) App Store against Appleʼs (unutterably poor, slipshod, pathetically inept) major dose of incompetence, MacOS 10.8.2 Mountain Lion,  is the curse of the spinning beach ball — meaning that multicolored whirling circle which indicates that something is happening (but nothing relevant to what you just wanted to occur on your computer) although nothing ever does develop.

Wait, please wait… Wait… Keep on waiting…  Wait, please… Wait.

Since yesterdayʼs attempt at calm reason (and closure) to my endless agonies with the recently installed system “upgrade,” that curse has been the essence of my longsuffering digitized existence, so much so that I actually shut down my iMac yesterday evening, screamingly frustrated beyond toleration and belief at hours of naught but “spinning beachball” nothingness, knowing full well that starting up this morning would be just another intolerably prolonged procedure, involving several stalls and resultant forced hard restarts —until I succeeded in causing a reboot in “safe mode,” which recently, at least, has actually worked and from which I can restart successfully (adding a mere hour to my morningʼs start-of-business).

I have also learned more than I really care to know about various processes on my Mac that can eat up all of the available active RAM — some being Appleʼs intrusions and some evidently resulting from my virus-protection package, Intego’s Virus Barrier X6 (version 10.6.18 for anyone counting), or so say the various Mac discussion sites discovered by my googling queries on such arcane processes as “launchd” (and many related programmed routines) “mdworker” (and its associated agents), “BehavioralInjector_32” and about a half dozen more — some of which it is safe to quit and some not, each of which can overflood the available memory and leave my computer just an electricity-sucking, luminescent lump of inactive digital dung.

A seventy-minute wait last night left the memory overfull and the cursor a movable spinning beachball. A marble of doom. So I finally, frustrated, shut down…

And felt much better almost immediately!

And then the new day dawned…

Right now, my memory meter (I having earlier quit several of the noisome processes already today) is not glowing all red with usage overplus, but nevertheless for every letter I attemp to tpe ere* in Scrivener, I only get a few, the calculated result being somewhat worse than uploading my hen-scratchings with the smartpen for interpretation (OCR?) and transformation into digital text. Maybe itʼs a sign that any work I accomplish today was meant to be handwritten?

And Lady Lovelace forfend that I should attempt to use the control-click over my own typos for a fast revision — oh, no, that just means two solid minutes of the dreadful beachball spinning.

Lus he disk is being ccsed nns I hbkgrn — Plus the disk is being accessed nonstop in the background.

Snarling sarcastic “thanks” for hindering all efforts, Apple… **

* That this is the kind of utter putrid crap my computer puts out when I am trying to type at a normal speed — I meant, “I attempt to type here” but as an example I left it as was (that passage at least being partially comprehensible, unlike some of the previous skips that deprived this text of whole words and phrases and ran letters ten words apart together into a nonsensical jumble).

** Babbage forbid that I might actually be able to use this computer for something other than its own care and feeding.

Now letʼs discover how many hours of pointless beachballing must be involved in transforming this file to HTML, copying said code, pasting into WordPress online, editing and proofreading and eventually posting…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Technological Frustrations (4)

I had intended to detail the many frustrations and hours of hangs and freezes and days of re-installation of MacOS 10.8.2 Mountain Lion. But I have begun to bore even myself, and after the not-just-offline-but-off-computer-altogether experiences of last week, I have begun to forget everything I had fumed inside and planned to write.

I think Iʼll just bring this recent thread of technological frustrations to an end — let us hope not just a temporary conclusion.

My wifeʼs laptop is operational but not up to snuff (meaning service pack 3 level and thereby able to support her bought-and-paid virus protection). My iMac remains always on so it doesnʼt have to restart (which Mountain Lion, at least on my computer, cannot do — boot reliably). We remain frustrated… by technology…

Joys of Technology

A glimpse at the Kindle Reader app in action (on top of this post in composition)

On a brighter note, we have new technological toys with which to play. The imminence and arrival of mine kept me distracted from any kind of real accomplishments for well over a week. And my wallet suffers not merely from the acquisition of these new devices but an addictive loading of information and entertainment.

I bought us both Kindles (our first — unlike her early-adopting boss, I thought I would save my cash and acquire my Kindle for well under a hundred bucks*). Mine is indeed the very (currently) cheapest, most basic, old-fashioned, ad-spewing version of the amazon.com product. In black, with the little buttons and square four-way steering tool at the bottom. And I adore having 200 books (many of those absolutely free or utterly the cheapest possible — and collections of dozens of books in each**) in my pocket wherever I go (no more deciding which books to take on vacation now!).

However, I mostly sought out electronic reading devices for The Lovely One. Ever since her emergency eye surgery in 2008 (for a detached retina) and the consequent reshaping of her eyeball, she has found it very difficult to read. With the Kindle able to present text in various sizes, it should make reading more pleasant and possible for her. And she has the new Paperwhite Kindle (again, I fear, the least expensive of those models), so she can even change the font (within the five available possibilities), not needing to tire of incessant Courier and Helvetica, as I apparently must too often endure. The Paperwhite also illuminates itself, so she can read in the evening, or in bed (as I seem always to do). She may still need her “cheaters,” but now she can read (we hope)!

Aside from my greedily filling about a quarter of my Kindleʼs drive with books new and old (and not all of them freebies or buck-or-two volumes as time has gone on), I have no gripes or qualms about this bit of technology, new to us…


Perhaps I am as stupidly ignorant as I suspect and suggest, but I find the Kindle Reader app for Mac rather ridiculously does not permit a user to copy the text he or she is reading. As I wanted to pass on to My Beloved (from an e-book travel guide I had purchased for Kindle use) a tidbit of information about our intended destination for this yearʼs approaching vacation, this limitation frustrated me (see, the titular theme does indeed persist) until I realized that I could snap a screenshot of the appropriate selection (now, through several software bundle purchases having no less than four screen-capturing programs***) and use PDF Pen Pro to OCR the several sentences into selectable, editable text.

Satisfactory? To be sure. (At least so far… )

And now for some Andalusian research in advance of NaNoWriMo, drawing nigh.

* I had the same attitude/policy toward the iPod — preferring to have my MP3 player for hundreds less than the original prices (and, until recent years, more and more file storage). Itʼs a lesson deriving from my late youth, when calculators were the cutting edge of novel technology (and which not I nor any of my family could originally afford) but which consistently halved their previous prices, while improving the device, year after year, buying season after buying season.

Being an elderizing codger, I still use a calculator — seems so much more direct and simple than booting a computer (assuming, of course, that such a procedure, starting up a computer, is even possible) and then opening a calculator program.  — Not quite aged enough for sliderule mastery, though…

** complete Sherlock Holmes, Lovecraft, Victor Hugo, H. Rider Haggard, James Joyce, Dostoyevsky, Dickenson, Poe, Shelly, Keats, Yeats, Walter Scott, Robert. E. Howard, the Babylonian Talmud in English… (I could go on — you know I could — but you have endured enough. For now.)

Besides, check my screen-capture illustration for todayʼs post to see some more of my recent reading.

***  — I still choose Voilá for constant menubar presence and use, although SnagIt, Clarify and Skitch remain in the Dock (and I would appreciate any input or feedback on othersʼ program preferences and insights).

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Technological Frustrations (2)

…continued at long last…

Before I am unable to proceed (yet again*), perhaps I should wrap up my now long-ago post on Janetʼs laptop and our (still incomplete) effort to upgrade and continue her virus protection.

Although I had a thirty-day trial actually working (having, I was almost absolutely positive, not succeeded in downloading the current app before the five-download limit was imposed by TrendMicro), I was pretty sure that this application wasnʼt accepting her overly extensive activation code not (in this case, at least) because the goons at TrendMicro were so conveniently incompetent as to acquire my fifty dollars without writing the activation portion of their software correctly but because (as I vaguely recalled) the downloaded installation package I had belatedly discovered wasnʼt new at all but rather one I had downloaded months in the past and never installed.

So how could I get around TrendMicroʼs determinedly profiteering limitation on downloads from their website (a particularly stupid restriction if the package still needed activation to fully work**)?

I had received a confirmation e-mail on the software purchase in my msn account***, so reading it, I decided to click the link for the download (on my iMac) and, accessing the download site, tried the download again. And it worked, downloading the complete .exe file to my Mac desktop. I promptly copied the file to a flash drive that I thought was still configured for Windows, started up Janetʼs laptop, plugged in the flash drive and copied the program to her desktop (or whatever Windows calls that level).

Unfortunately, upon double-clicking the installation package, it informed me that it wouldnʼt work unless we made use of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (about which I had not heard, believing Microsoft to have abandoned XP years ago). However, some extensive searching procured a disk image of just that service pack**** to download and burn to CD.

Now comes the good part — actually bad, very very bad. Installing the Service Pack 3 failed (twice). And on the second failure and forced restart, her computer no longer restarted. At all.

Her laptop was dead, useless — a worthless, nonfunctioning lump of metals and plastic (exactly what HP and Microsoft wanted such antiques — six years old — to be considered). Unless I could figure out how to make use of the back-up/restoration partition (drive D, I think I had learned at one point) HP had created originally on her computer. But I had no idea what to press during startup to activate that restoration.

So her computer sat worthless for a week or so while I pondered (and basically also just forgot about the problem, admittedly, taking the low and easy road to personal satisfaction by ignoring what was wrong in our lives) and diddled away at other things (on my lovely, brushed aluminum, June 2009-vintage, 27-inch iMac).

Entering our “office“ in the morning, I might contemplate the inert laptop briefly, frustrated that I had no idea was key-combos might accomplish what during the startup process (and too lazy/forgetful to investigate that problem online). Did we have a restoration/installation CD for XP (as I had purchased a couple years back to upgrade the iMac to Appleʼs Snow Leopard)?

Finally, I roused myself from my habitual (and habituated) inertia to search out the collection of mini-manuals and materials, including software CDs, we had originally received along with the laptop. And eventually I discovered a little CD-sized piece of paper informing me that we didnʼt need an installation CD because we had the restoration back-up on the computer itself, even mentioning the appropriate key combo to use to access the back-up.

So I did as the miniature sheet instructed, re-installing the saved version of her operating system, and it worked. Kind of. Suddenly her computer was back almost completely to its original state (that of six years ago). That position left me needing to simply install the service packs (1, 2 and 3) again to attempt finally the TrendMicro anti-virus package. As it turned out, just service pack 2 before 3, and I discovered Microsoft did indeed have a site to download the service pack installation packages without resort to burning CDs.

Service pack 2 worked just as it had before, meaning successfully. But I am currently hovering in hesitation about attempting that service pack 3 without backing up her drive (as it exists now in its somewhat more modernized state, rather than attempting to start essentially from scratch once again should/when the service pack 3 installation again fail and trash the entire Windows system) to an external drive. I have the drive I would like to use, but currently itʼs loaded to reinstall Snow Leopard for my Mac, if necessary (which has been necessary at least twice already in the last two years).

Time to buy another (our fourth) back-up drive, I supposed.

And thatʼs when I made the foolish mistake of upgrading the iMac to Mountain Lion…

* There have been serious disasters and troubles preventing the promised continuation of this misadventure (and keeping me offline and discomputered for days at a time, not just this past week), resolved, maybe, just today.

** Why not post unlimited downloads of the trial software to attract customers? Most (if not all) other software suppliers do that…

*** Why my e-mail account, rather than My Belovedʼs? Long story, involving the important aspect of which one of us takes a real interest in maintaining (even using our home computers).

**** I had a feeling that particular package wasnʼt the one I wanted, but it was absolutely all I could find (Windows auto-updates having never really worked on her computer from the beginning). Later in the misadventure, I found, as told above, a downloadable package which we will use just as soon as, for safetyʼs sake I back up her entire computer to the currently available external drive (but needing to be reconfigured, again, for Windows use), an activity I may just begin right now…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Technological Frustration (1)

Although I noted cheerfully yesterday that my one-time problems with the Livescribe Echo smartpen (and its attendant notebooks and installable apps) had been rather readily resolved*, technology has recently raised the ugly side of its basilisk/harpy countenance in our lives in Our Town.

I simply do not know why I elected to use this particular image in connection to this post, particularly as I went to extensive pains not to mention the virus-protection software company in question…

About a month ago, evidently on or just before September 4, I realized that my lovely brideʼs Windows (HP) laptop had expired its virus protection**. So I connected to the appropriate website, forked out nearly fifty bucks for another yearʼs protection and downloaded the software package to which I was directed.

The first of many (increasingly severe) problems almost immediately raised its life-chilling glare. The download failed. Repeatedly. And then the website informed me that I had exceeded the established number of allowed downloads (five). What kind of nonsensical regulation imposed what kind kind of pinhead corporate penny-pincher imposed that obviously moronic limitation? I had tried five times and five times the download failed to finish. And now the criminal ghouls who pass themselves off as “free enterprise” in this demented nation tell me my window of opportunity has slammed shut on my shattered knuckles, wafting my half-century of cash into the nether winds of the cyberverse?

“Like hell,” I vowed, envisioning eviscerating Their corpulent and putrescent carcasses as feed for rabid, hydrocephalic vermin while the wicked perpetrators of my futile situation remained conscious and screaming in ever-escalating agony. However, the vile schemers had provided no evident course for feedback or communication with the vomitous corporate entity which was attempting to abscond with my digi-currency, so all I could do was fume and mutter. And turn off her computer, frustrated.

The next day — a Sunday, I believe — however, when I turned the machine back on, I observed an icon on the desktop for the program I had been attempting to download. Had I somehow, miraculously, succeeded without my awareness of such a moral (if not actual) victory? I didnʼt know… although a hint of a rumor of a lost memory suggested that perhaps I had downloaded the program (to which the former program we had used to use had upgraded over the past year) sometime in the late winter or early spring…

Regardless, I double-clicked the icon and promptly began the (always too extensive) installation procedure. And the program less-than-more promptly installed itself.

But when I attempted to provide our license key, the program refused my fifty-dollar complex code of numbers and letters broken into inconveniently convenient four- and five-symbol groupings. Refused and repeatedly refused to accept the carefully copied and carefully typed hieroglyphic cipher (which I did type correctly each tormented time). Instead the program informed me that it was on “trial mode” and would expire October 4.

That date, however, was a whole month, thirty huge days, in the future. Surely, I could resolve the problem, on my own or via e-mail in that duration.

Couldnʼt I?***

* that is, once the tech supporters at Livescribe focused on the correct problem; rather like doctors, tech support personnel are only as capable as our descriptions of our complaints (and their experience with similar problems) permit their diagnoses and prescriptions to be —something that blockheads (probably including me) complaining about both sorts of diagnosticians need to realize…

** (We donʼt start up her laptop very often, mostly just to delete the hundreds of junk e-mails she once let herself in for from various corporations. Janet is no fan of enduring technology or the digital universe when she doesnʼt have to: meaning at home away from work, where she is figuratively — at least I hope itʼs not literal — enslaved and enchained to her terminal.)

*** More to come, perhaps tomorrow, assuredly Monday (after all, on Sunday, my Lovely One, who despises whatever minuscule amount of time I allot to my digital devices, must have whatever of my utter devotion she requires). See you soon…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.