Windows 7, Rain, & Stepford Snow

Windows 7 Upgrade

Yeah, I know.  I’ve always been a Mac guy.  Build quality of the Apple hardware far exceeds anything I’ve ever seen on the PC side.  The Mac operating systems have always made more sense and offered more and better control of the computing environment. 

Well, as you know if you’re one of the people  who read this blog, I’ve recently purchased a factory refurbished HP laptop.  It shipped with Windows Vista installed, which I really enjoyed.  Sort of a monster the functionality of which was fun to discover.  But, because I purchased before 31 January 2010, HP offered a free upgrade to Windows 7.  Because free is where it’s at, baby, I signed up.

In due time the envelope containing the two-DVD upgrade suite arrived.  Disc One is a proprietary HP upgrade helper sort of thing containing a user interface and progs that evaluate the hardware and C-out reports and advice.  And here’s the thing – the advice printing to screen is worth following.  First time around, I ignored the suggestion to abort the upgrade then find and uninstall the program that uses “keyboard filter” before running the upgrade stuff again.  After what seemed like a very long time, with the actual Windows 7 disc running its install, the entire system and upgrade hung completely on a chkdsk countdown at 1.

After using the Macintosh to get online and research the problem, I rolled back to Vista on the laptop, found and uninstalled the HP Quick Keys program, and a couple of days later successfully ran the upgrade to 7 without the slightest hitch.

I have never had any similar problems upgrading Macintosh computer operating systems.

Anyway, I do like Windows 7, but it’s not as funky-genie-like as Vista.  Just pretty stable and functional using far fewer system resources.



What was it, a week ago, that we got all that rain.  Like Waterworld around here for a few days.  Got me thinking about the feasibility of installing a dry well out back and in front.



Got a bunch of snow here at Stepford yesterday.  Our offices were all closed at noon – I got home before the atmosphere began to really resemble a shaken snow-globe.

Pionier 450S – First Report

Today, several long months after purchasing my 1962 Pionier 450S, I paddled it for the first time.

The interesting spraydeck did not remain attached to the coaming on the right front of the cockpit.  The clips kept coming loose.  I eventually removed it.  The after portion of the spraydeck remained in place without any problems, and I left it on.

I did not use the rudder today.  This boat doesn’t track nearly as well as my Pouch E68, but then, what does?  I used the kayak’s inflatable seat cushion, but while using it, never felt securely in place.  When I stopped to stretch, I removed the cushion and stowed the front part of the spraydeck behind the seat.

The kayak’s primitive-looking wooden seatback, affixed to a sort of thwart upon which it swivels, provides comfortable back support, totally unlike the seatbacks crafted for the more modern Pouch E68 and RZ96.  With the inflatable cushion off the apparently ergonomically curved wooden seat-bottom, I found paddling much more comfortable and felt more securely, um, in touch with the kayak.

The cockpit’s traditional gothic-arch shape allows the paddler to lock knees under the deck outboard the coaming.  My E68 feels “loose” around my waist without the inflatable hip-pads on the Nautiraid Greenlander seat I use in that boat.  The 450S does not feel like it needs a hip-fit modification.  Another cool thing about the gothic-arch cockpit is that it minimizes, along with paddle drip rings, the volume of paddle drip falling into the boat.  I used a Euro paddle today, for no good reason I can think of, but was glad of the paddle’s drip rings when I removed problematic forward section of the spraydeck.  Although I didn’t paddle for more than two or three hours today, my butt, legs, and lower back did not and were not numb after a fair amount of time on the uncushioned seat.

The Pionier 450S is not as fast as my Pouch E68.  It has some rocker (the E68 has none), and is about a foot and half shorter.  It took me longer to paddle a short distance, which may be accounted for, in part, by the fact that I have not paddled in several months – probably not since July of last year.

Paddling did not seem to unduly stress the shoulder that’d required surgery in August of last year.  As I write this, my surgery-side trapezius is painful – but I can probably correct that with better posture and exercise.  Of late, I have not religiously adhered to the regimin of post-surgery corrective exercises prescribed by my physical therapist.

For about the first 30 to 45 minutes, none of my body’s right-side movements seemed to coordinate with those of my left-side.  I had a strong sense of lopsidedness.  Eventually I seemed to get a rhythm and my muscle-amnesia lifted a bit.

Some of the Normandy Lake pictures I took today follow:

Ready to Paddle

Atlantic Street Stepford 001

Another beautiful day in Stepford - calling for rain this afternoon, but considerably warmer temps than we've had in the last little while


I awoke earlier this morning than I’d intended to, could not get back to sleep, got up and made some coffee.  The Sony Handycam program I installed the other day had completed overnight the task I’d given it – to backup some raw video clips to DVD after converting them to WMV format.  Took far longer than I expected – hours.  Windows Task Manager reported less than half of the available RAM was being used at any of the several times I checked, but CPU usage monitor indicated a consistent 92%.  This Hewlett-Packard DV6 has an Intel DuoCore processor that’s not particularly fast.  Maybe I will back up the same video files without first converting them to see how long that takes.

6:22 am

I’ve been up awhile, and it’s only 6:22 am.  I’ve just made a lunch to eat while I’m on the water.  Peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, trail-mix, and generic fig-newton cookies.  Pretty heavy on the carbs.  I’ll have a huge bowl of oatmeal before I leave the house.

Today it’s my goal to paddle the Pionier 450S folding kayak I purchased last fall.  I intend to try out the spraydeck/skirt combo and the rudder with the boat today.  Probably will paddle no more than eight or so miles – this will be my first excursion since my shoulder surgery last August, so I want to ease into this.  The Pionier’s far lighter than my Pouch E68, and is sponsonless.  I will probably try cartopping the kayak deck-down because the Gothic-arch cockpit is long enough the coaming should rest easily on the 850’s factory roof-racks.  That, and the fact that I never did spring for carrying cradles for the E68.

When I get home, I’ll let the boat dry out, leave it assembled in order to affix a keelstrip to protect the hull from further wear.  Yesterday, I spoke with Mark at Long Haul Folding Kayaks – his company sells gray keelstrips  17’ long and 2.5” wide that he said may be applied with neoprene cement.  I’ll probably buy one and cut it down, saving the remainder to use as patch material if that ever becomes necessary.

After the hull-work’s completed, I’ll disassemble the boat and see about any frame stripping and varnishing.  I need to have a look at that E68’s frame, too.

Again, I am writing this post using Windows Live Writer, so we’ll see how it works when I include a picture.

Vituperation and Values

The vituperative response of a reader to one of my previous blog posts (an excerpt from the edited portion of that post follows) about the intent of my family to create our own holiday traditions that make sense to us and arise out of our own values has motivated me to specifically reflect upon those values.  The original post I redacted at the request of a close family member.

“Now that my wife and I are parents, we will begin establishing our Christmas traditions as a family; traditions that make sense to us and arise out of our own values.”

The Internet

I use Internet forums and this blog as places to write about what I think, as well as to write about my life’s events.  That is what Internet forums and blogs are for.  If the Venn diagram of my life overlaps with that of someone else, when I write about my life, I might also be writing about the events of someone else’s.  Because this blog cross-posts in other places, those who would not normally come here to read about the things I think and do may be exposed to ideas they find offensive.

Metrospy conservative values bumper sticker

Fatih, Family, Life, Country, and The Right to Bear Arms - some basic conservative American values

The Basics

Personally, I value truth for its own sake. I value the free exchange of ideas and do not expect even significant others to agree with mine.  I hope they will understand them, but agreement is not necessary for my own mental, emotional, and spiritual equanimity.

I value justice.  I will typically not tolerate, if there’s anything I can do about it, an injustice perpetrated upon myself or another person.  That means I won’t quietly accept a serving of excrement that I did not order.  Normally, I’ll return it, somehow or another, to the waitstaff, as opposed to hiding it under the table at my feet, or scraping it off the plate into a potted plant.  I won’t quietly sit by while another person is force-fed a similar helping.  And by the way, the serving-of-excrement thing is metaphor.

I value freedom to speak, write, publish, and broadcast my thoughts and ideas.  I value your freedom to disagree or to pay no attention.

I value thrift as the proper response to the possession of financial and other resources.  It just makes sense to be careful in circumstances of plenty, because circumstances may change.

I value charity as the proper response to the possession of plenty.  Because I have been helped many times by others, I am happy to be of service and to help others when I reasonably can.

I value the practice of my religion, and as a Christian, I think that Christian religious commemorations or, as we’ve come to call them, holidays, are essentially religious occasions.  While, to a degree, I enjoy some of the cultural traditions associated with Christian holidays, I consider them of secondary importance.

Other News

This blog post has been written in and is being published by a Windows Live program called Windows Live Writer.  I’m not sure it will work.  The Windows Live suite is something I downloaded and installed with a Windows Vista update.  I’ve heard terrible things about Windows Vista, but I find that I like it considerably better than Windows XP Professional.  That is, after installing Service Pack 2.

Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 is the system that came preinstalled on the HP DV6 factory refurbished laptop I purchased last week from HP’s online outlet store.  It’s not the super cool Macbook Pro I wanted (Apple Store factory refurb unit), but it has twice the RAM, a gigantic 12-cell battery, a much larger hard drive, built-in wireless, and will make a good sandbox for all those Windows programs I don’t want to run in a virtual machine on the Power Mac I normally use.  Oh yeah, did I mention I got it about half the cost of that Macbook Pro?

HP Pavilion DV6 Case

The downside

The downside is that it has a shiny case with ugly shiny silver circular designs that, at first glance, resemble nothing so much as little piles of fingernail clippings.  But it’s that thrift-thing, again.  Never buy new, never pay full retail, etc.; and looks don’t matter whereas function does.

I placed my order online the evening of Thursday 7 January, and received the laptop the following Saturday.  Turns out Saturday deliveries are included with standard shipping.  That’s great service.  Because I bought before 31 January, HP is shipping me a gratis copy of Windows 7, which I’ll probably install after monkeying around with Vista for awhile.  From the reviews I’ve read, 7 makes fewer superfluous hardware calls, runs faster, uses less battery power than Vista.

I’ll probably put some of the money I’ve saved toward an Apple Store factory refurb Imac sometime in the near future.

Faltkajak Pionier 450 S Assembled!

Forgot to mention this in my previous post, but this last weekend I found the time to complete assembly of my new Pionier 450 S.  My goal in the next week or two is to affix the keelstrip provided by the manufacturer back in about 1962.  The keel’s worn in some places, but not completely through the skin which I hope will remain serviceable for the next couple of years.  Assembled, this boat is beautiful and lightweight.  I love precise way in which all the parts fit together.  The gunwale or “thele” boards/stringers are a bit fiddly to attach fore and aft, but that was the most difficult part of the process.  This kayak comes with a very interesting spraydeck, and the wooden seat-bottom attaches interestingly.  Below are some rather bad-quality photos of the boat I took over the weekend.

Anniversary and Other Interesting Life Events

Today marks the 11th anniversary of my marriage to Caution-Lady.  Far and away the most surprising grace vouchsafed me by the Almighty.  An icy wind blew a dry, small, sparkly snowfall briefly this morning, in honor of the blizzard-like conditions we endured all those years ago.  Photographs show my young bride seated with a friend working on her wedding hair, her shell-shocked look declaring her sense that her perfect day had ruined by the wintry visitation of frozen water from above.  Siberian conditions forced us to cancel music, reception, and romantic getaway cottage; many of our guests were unable to attend, and we will forever remember those who showed up.

For the first time ever, instead of spending the day celebrating the anniversary of an admittedly terrific nephew’s birth, my wife and I spent the day doing something as a family with our son.  Took off to Chattanooga mid-morning, ate lunch at one of my wife’s favorite restaurants there, and spent several hours with our little boy at the Discovery Museum. I know, not very romantic, but we love that little boy, and he’s only a toddler once.

Back in early December (’09) we attended an agency Christmas party and got to see some Nashville friends.  Later we had lunch together at the Farmer’s Market downtown.  Jon, in a stage whisper, informed us of the presence of “the mayor (of Nashville) over there” seated behind me and to my right.  Having coffee with a buddy, apparently.  I thought it would be rude to snap his picture, so I left him alone.

Nashville Farmer's Market

Not exactly a Roman basilica, but a lot of windows up there to admit sunlight to the building's cavernous interior

Tennessee capitol building skyline

A bad picture of the Nashville skyline shot from the farmer's market parking-lot. That's the Tennessee state capitol building at right.

I got from my wife for Christmas a couple more gigabytes of RAM for my aging scratch-and-dent bargain dual G5 Power-Mac.  Legacy apps, and those available at the time of the machine’s production are more interesting to overburden now that my computer has the extra memory.  Artmatic 1.1 is a particular favorite – animating the designs can be accomplished with or without sound.  If sound is employed, the animation can be made to respond to sound-in, to an audio file, or to the animation’s mathematics in any of several ways, one of which is pleasantly melodic and is represented as a selection graphically by a line of four or five miniscule notes.  The program’s current version can be found here.  An early version Groovemaker froze while still generating and playing a complicated house-synth loop and had to be closed by Force Quit.  A current version of Groovemaker can be found here.

Artmatic 1.1 Saved Pict

I've been monkeying around again with an OS 9 legacy app, Artmatic 1.1. Extra RAM makes old progs more interesting, even when running in Classic.

Octagonal Window

Frozen world beyond the pane

I took a few days off work, and we drove into the frozen north for a visit with my wife’s family the week before Christmas.  Almost the entire extended family gathered the day we arrived.  We exchanged gifts, ate a lot of really good food and desserts.  The following Monday, the more immediate family exchanged gifts.   One of the things I’d asked for this year was Amanda J. Fields scholarly analysis of the Basil Rathbone – Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films produced by Twentieth Century Fox and then by Universal Pictures.  While the scholarly, research-paperesque style of prose is tiresome, the subject matter covered is interesting enough the mind of the reader filters out the tedium of academic convention.  If you’re at all interested in motion pictures as wartime propaganda, genre films, and the work of those two now deceased actors, as well as the work of those who directed them, you should read the book.  Click on the image for the volume’s Amazon sales and review page.

England's Secret Weapon by Amanda J. Field

I read this book while indoors in the frozen north the week before Christmas

I did manage to keep my feeding mostly under control except for a few days in the frozen northern heartland.  I wasn’t prepared with fitness togs appropriate to the climactic conditions, so stuck around the house for a few days, watched a lot of television, and read.

Snowy Woods

We took Seventy-Six for a farm-truck ride into the snowy woods. No wolves, nor hunters, nor deer did we meet.

Seventy-Six was pleased he got to switch the truck over to four-wheel-drive

Our little Seventy-Six seemed to enjoy his gifts.  His favorite toy was a Fisher-Price vacuum cleaner manufactured in about 1986 and purchased from Ebay for a total, including shipping, of about $15.00.  It requires no batteries, and when pushed uses friction (or magic of some sort) to produce electricity needed to light a small bulb.  Also, the roller motion pushes air into the handle that moves around the colored particles imprisoned therein behind clear plastic.  Current iterations of this legacy toy require batteries to operate fully, and look a lot cheaper and less like ‘real’ vacuum cleaners.

Seventy-Six putting his new toy to good use

Now that the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holiday seasonal activities are finished, our household is getting back to normal.

An unsuspecting populace

Seventy-Six and I are building more elaborate towers now, and still knocking them down. This unsuspecting city-state little knows that Kidzilla's about to visit.