Hamilton, the Sawbuck not the musical

December 9, 2016

Its only been 7 years and some months since my last post, seems like yesterday since I last wrote a post.

During the intervening time I have learned to be a computer technician through a training course with BOCES and OJT with Unisys and Churchville Chili School District. One thing has become clear. I am not a computer geek. This is best illustrated by a recent discussion I had with one of our Network Administrators. Our network techs have  been upgrading our system  10 gigabit servers and switches that will handle many more computers at one time. In the past few years students have been equipped with netbooks and chromebooks and ipads. In other words, much more demand for bandwidth within the CCCSD network. Expansion is necessary and ongoing. This increase in capacity can be explained technically, employing all the latest jargon (geek talk) or as I explain it, a non-geek computer technician. In other words, if someone is taking a shower and another someone flushes the toliet, the shower taker will no longer be scalded by hot water. Increased capacity for more users!

Buddha figures heavily into my success as a computer technician.

the-real-buddha

The real Buddha is sitting in my office quietly working on his laptop. I go forth on service calls to the classrooms and troubles are solved easily, often only requiring my presence at the site of the so called tech problem. This has become so commonplace that I am known as the The Wizard. No connection, no problem, let me stand near your computer and the wireless mysteriously begins to work. It’s all Buddha.

During my training and throughout my short 7 year career as a computer technician, I have heard no one attribute their success to Buddha. I feel sure they  are not offering credit where credit is due.

By the way, you may notice a lot of paper in the above picture. The secret is out – the computer age has not ushered in the paperless age. As paper manufacturers know, production of paper is soaring ever higher in this “paperless society”.

So, my new career has provided many sawbucks and a chance to learn new things. I’ll try not to let 7 years be the interval between posts.

 

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The Sands of Time

September 25, 2009

When my children were young we often traveled to Taylor’s Resort on the Marblehead Peninsula in Ohio. Taylor’s Resort was owned by my father and step mother. In the early 70’s Marblehead was relatively undeveloped; a peaceful camping and cabin resort area on Lake Erie. It was relatively inexpensive, ideal for families.
One interaction between my father and my daughter remains in my memory. She had spent the day cavorting on the sandy beach(slightly larger than a postage stamp).
Each evening my step mother would prepare a delicious dinner. We were all sitting around the table gabbing about something when Lisa entered from her play. She began to remove her shoes stopping when she realized that they were full of sand. She quickly went to the back door, removed her sneakers and left them on the back stoop. A stoop is a porch that is not large enough to be called a porch. Its more like a step hence stoop? Maybe “storch” would be more descriptive but stoop it is.
My father asked Lisa if she emptied her shoes. Answering with perfect aplomb she said ” Oh no, I put them on the stoop so the sand can melt away.”
Hey, cute is cute, so we all laughed. Needless to say this left grandpa speechless which was a rare thing indeed.

The Fun Lovers

Iron Pigs

August 19, 2009

A few days ago I attended a baseball game. The Rochester Red Wings hosted the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. No, the Red Wings did not play a team of mechanized porkers, they looked like regular ball players to me.
As I sat there cheering the Wings on with my grandsons, son, and daughter in law I began to think about alchemy. Back in the day, some so called scientists claimed they could convert ordinary metal like iron pigs into gold ingots. There were serious efforts to do this with not so hot results.
In fact it did not work…..did the saying “Like putting lipstick on a pig” originate from this failed chemistry experiment?
Alchemy type baloney is not exclusive to the dark ages. We often hear this kind of stuff today. For example a trillion dollars additional national debt is really a way of cutting the cost of health care. Come on, paying for health insurance for 46 million more people is going to add to the cost of health care. Increasing the demand for a product without increasing the supply(more doctors, more hospitals) will cause a price rise independent of what our government spends. Let’s see, what would reduce or keep the price the same….hmm….rationing anyone? refusal of medical care for older folks? (full disclosure, I am an older folk)
The modern alchemy: the government can defy the laws of economics because ….well because it can. Since government is Force, it becomes “she who must be obeyed” and it will do as it wishes.

Read the consititution of the United States, your will find comfort there.

THE VALUE OF SEARCH ENGINES or How I found out I was having a heart attack.

July 10, 2009

One can peruse millions of bits of info, conveniently, using search engines on the world wide web. Search engines were created because we’re lazy. Who wants to go from website to website, entering url info each time, getting typer’s cramp when we can go to one convenient source and point and click. Search engines have been likened to the yellow pages by Lee Underwood. Well, maybe the yellow pages on steroids. Web robots were created to wander the web to count web servers. These became known as web crawlers or spiders. According to Mr. Underwood these robots indexed the web info in a systematic way so that users could find what they were looking for. Investors saw a way to make money and Search Engines were born.  The idea is to refine your search so that you have only about 30,000 choices rather than 2 million.

Early Webmaster

Early Web Robot

The following tale recounts my first reliance on search engines to gain needed information.

One Saturday in October 1999, I awoke at 4:30 AM with a heavy pressure in my chest. As I tossed and twisted in bed to relieve the ache, I thought that this pain is not easing. Naturally, I arose and went to the bathroom to relieve myself. That didn’t end the pain, even after I put the seat down.

Being well read, I thought “hmm” maybe there is something wrong. What could it be? Just then my skin became clammy, I broke out in a cold sweat, and I felt faint. Very uncomfortable. Say, maybe this is a heart attack.

Time to spring into action. I turned on our computer. My wife is peacefully sleeping, no need to bother her, I have technology. I entered heart attack in the search box.

Clicking on a likely site, up popped a drawing of a human figure. Actually, it looked like one of those police outlines at a crime scene, not a promising beginning. Several points on this outline were highlighted with a description of heart attack symptoms. The chest was one such area. “ A crushing, heavy pressure” was the description. Yep, that’s me. In the attached notes were the symptoms, clammy skin, cold sweat, light headedness. Me, me, and me!

Its 6:30AM, time to wake Mrs. Taylor. I shook her saying, “Mary Anne”, “What?!”, “I think I am having a heart attack.” She rolled over, “What time is it?” “Its 6:30” She then said, “Come on, this no time to be kidding around.” I said “I’m not kidding!”

Mrs. Taylor jumped out of bed, overcoming her natural skepticism of my announcement, and called 911. The Barnard Fire Department Rescue Squad did a fine job of saving me and took me to the hospital. While in the hospital, my wife suggested I have a brain scan, but I declined, knowing the probable outcome.

Luckily it was a mild heart attack and there was no damage to my heart.

Search engines work!

Check out this link for more info on search engine history, http://www.webreference.com/authoring/search_history/

Cats….the animals not the musical

July 2, 2009

Cats……..

Over the years I have had many cats as pets or vice versa as some cat lovers would say. My first cat, Hank, was named after Hank Rearden, a character in Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged”. Hank was a strange cat who enjoyed salads. My Mother who professed hatred of cats would make a salad for Hank whenever she was visiting. He was grateful, I think. It’s hard to read cats, they are seemingly aloof, not that I am ascribing human characteristics to an animal…..what cats eat salad?!

Not long after Hank was hit by a car, Fred came into our lives. Fred was the namesake of the president of an ink company I worked for. Fred, the president not the cat, later fired me. Fred the cat was much nicer to me. He was more like me. He liked cheese balls, tuna, and riding in cars. When his buddy, Harry(grandfather’s name), came along Fred often spent time calming Harry’s frayed nerves as we rode along. No kidding, when Harry started caterwauling ( excuse the pun) Fred would leave his perch on my left shoulder and sit next to Harry. Harry would cease the yelling. Fred was dedicated to riding in cars. Our neighbor who left his car windows open went off to work one day only to find he was looking into Fred’s friendly face when he checked his rearview mirror. Fred was comfortably lounging on the rear deck enjoying the warm sun streaming through the rear window. Naturally, our neighbor drove back home to let Fred out. Well, Fred disappeared when we moved. I’d like to think that he may have caught a freight to parts unknown since we lived near a rail spur.

My wife brought a cat to our marriage. His name was Shamber. I sensed that he didn’t care for the name, so I called him Sham. Sham had an interesting diet. My wife, Cat Lady, prepared cooked beef liver for most of his meals. It had to be cooked just right, almost liver tartar. Sounds appetizing, NOT! This behavior by Cat Lady was fair warning but I married her anyway. Before meeting Cat Lady I had developed the calloused habit of feeding cat food to my cats with some noted dietary exceptions. Sham and Fred became good friends. If they had had thumbs they might have gone bowling together. Both of these cats were outdoor cats and spent part of each day enjoying nature. A problem developed with a neighbor cat named Jasper. In the human world he would have been known as a bully. He was always after Fred. One afternoon we heard a crescendo of angry cat talk and went outdoors to investigate. There was the fierce Shamber backing Jasper down the side walk. Fred, the milk toast, was quaking in his boots standing behind Shamber. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Shamber lived to the ripe old age of 14, probably because he ate half cooked liver every day.

The real excitement with cats began when my wife and I moved to Greece, NY. We became a boardinghouse for cats. At one time we had five. Mostly strays. Because these cats seemed to find their way, unerringly, to our house, the kids began to refer to our home as a stop on some stray cat underground railroad.

One cold winter night I heard loud meowing at our door. Investigating the noise I found a big stray tomcat standing at our threshold yelling his brains out. Needless to say I told him to scat and not come back. Since I travelled quite often, I was not present for this tom’s next visit. Cat Lady (my wife) answered the door and let him in!(She had to, his tail was frozen! What?) He didn’t leave, except for vet visits, for many years. Naturally, he headed right for my chair and sat down, leaning one elbow on the arm of the chair. He was all black, no markings. If his eyes weren’t open, he looked like a big, black fur covered head with legs. We named him Buckwheat after the Our Gang character. He was an intimidating presence among the other cats. He was king of the hill. One tactic he used was to stand on one side of the cat door to our enclosed porch and dare any other cat to come through and enjoy the sun. There were no takers. One night he was accidentally left on the porch when I slid the plastic door over the opening. The next morning we woke up to find the shattered cat door on the floor by the porch door and Buckwheat sitting placidly in my chair. Now there’s a cat who could use his head!

It’s important to note that our cats have been well cared for with regular visits to the vet and all the required vaccinations to keep them healthy. They all have been neutered because the last thing I want is more cats. Sometimes they even have eaten cat food. They all seem to have a favorite human food, though. As we have become veteran cat keepers we have stopped letting them out. Too much going on out there that could kill or hurt them and keeping them in helps prevents cat leukemia.

We now live with a cat, Guy, who survived distemper to live a life of ease in cat paradise (our home) and another cat who is called Lovey? They eat cat food.Guy and Lovey

Remembering David M. Taylor

June 29, 2009

An early memory of my younger brother is David chasing my cousin and I down the street. That wasn’t unusual in itself, he always wanted to hang with the big boys. My cousin and I were home for lunch during our second grade class. What separates this chase from others is that David was naked from the waste down. My cousin and I may have been teasing him while he was taking care of business, chanting “Stink Bomb Harry”. David was an action man from the start and jumped off the throne to chase us, no pants and all.
David was a loyal brother who would do anything to help me. Like the time I was involved in a fight with a neighborhood kid. The kid and I were flailing away when from the left there came a blur propelling itself toward the kid’s legs bowling him over. It was David. He decided I was losing the fight and needed his help. Everybody but me was laughing so hard the fight was forgotten.
We lived in a small village in Western New York and grew up in the sixties. In that small town the sixties were pretty much like the fifties. Kids could be kids. We avoided adults like the plague. The best adult was neither seen nor heard. David and I did not have a father around, so we stuck together.
When Dave was in his late teens he began to experience mental problems. He had a break down and was treated with electro-shock therapy, which might qualify as torture under the rules of our latest political sages.
We found him asleep on our back porch or he would be hallucinating that the CIA and FBI were following him. I asked what made him so important to have this kind of surveillance. David couldn’t say but it seemed reasonable to him.
With the onset of his illness, he was a different person, not the brother and friend I had known.
His wife came home one day to find everything(lamps, chairs, couch, table) from their living room on the front yard. It was arranged exactly as it had been in the house. Why did he do it she asked. Looked better out there. We were all happy that he did it during the summer.
Over the years, David’s illness worsened and he spent time in an asylum. To control him the staff doped him with Thorazine. We worked to get him out of there into an outpatient facility. He then had a period of respite and managed to graduate from college with a business degree. He had amazing energy and optimism.
His life was a crazy quilt of a strange Christian sect that did not associate with non-believers except when members needed money, remarriage, and a move to Houston, Texas. Through all of this he took his medicine, he didn’t take his medicine and his illness waned and waxed with each behavior.
After his second wife died in a horrific traffic accident, he lost everything and we lost David. He was somewhere in Houston but we could not find him.

On August 13, 2007 a Houston hospital emergency room called to tell me that David Taylor had collapsed and died on his way to a day labor office. Was I David’s brother? Yes.

When I met the staff of the Houston day labor office, I learned that David was a kind and generous client. He always had a word of encouragement for the staff and his sense of humor was well known among the staff and other laborers.

For those wishing to know, David was schizophrenic, paranoid, and bi-polar. He was fifty five years old when he collapsed and died.
But for me, my brother was a tow headed kid who defended me at the drop of a hat, the kid who wanted to be around me all the time, and he was Stink Bomb Harry.

Rest in peace, my brother.