Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Once again this year we will be hosting Thanksgiving for the "orphans" in town, those people we know and work with who have no family nearby and who won't be venturing home for the holiday. Last year it got a little crazy with about 24 people. This year we were thankful that it appeared our numbers would be around 10, then others began hearing about our gathering and it started to look like it would get out of control again. So M nipped it in the bud by issuing the following proclamation: Hors d'hoeuvres would be served around 4 for anyone who would like to stop in on their way to other parties, dinner at 6 for those who had already confirmed they would be dinner guests, and 8 for anyone who wanted to come for dessert. Whew!

This year will also be a little bit easier because we won't have to line up 3 tables end-to-end just to seat everyone together. This year I found an amazing table at Salvation Army for $75. It was some sort of hotel remodel or overstock deal where they got about a dozen of these really large tables and sold them all really cheap. The table in its small position seats 6 _very_ comfortably, and when we add the two leaves that came with the table, we can seat 10 _very_ comfortably. It's going to be weird not having to figure out who has to straddle the table legs on all the tables shoved together. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MS-VISTA The Bane of my Existence!

So last summer I purchased a laptop and Desktop (HP Pavillions) for my new office. They came pre-loaded with Microsoft Vista. I asked for XP but was told I could no longer get it. I could have gotten the older XP software from Dell if I wanted to pay $1000 more for my computers. Ummmm, no! Now I'm thinking $1,000 would have been worth it.

See, right from the beginning I was having trouble. Internet Explorer would suddenly close on me for no apparent reason, right while I was in the middle of something. No problem, I don't like IE anyway. So I downloaded Mozilla Firefox for my browser. It works better that IE, doesn't shut down as frequently, but it still does on occasion. That's okay, I can live with that.

The other problem I had was the error windows that would constantly pop up after every automatic Microsoft update that would load from the Internet during the evening hours. I would ignore the error windows until they eventually made my computer difficult to operate. Then it would require restoring my computer back to its factory install state.

Another problem I had was that I couldn't load my Vista compatible WordPerfect or my Vista compatible Quickbooks. Each time I had to go back to the factory settings, I would have to re-load my software. I would have to pay $15 each time to the makers of these software programs as they walked me through lowering Vista's numerous security devices so I could get the software loaded. I did this a couple of times.

Just recently, again, the computer got so bogged down with error messages from the automatic updates and the internet browsers kept shutting down frequently, that I knew I would have to go back to the factory settings once again. This time, however, I had no intention of paying money to have someone help me load software that was already supposed to be Vista compatible.

So this next step was my fatal error. I contacted Microsoft to fix their crappy Vista software so I would stop getting error messages with every automatic update and also be able to load Vista compatible software. Well nothing the tech from India tried would work, not even a check disk utility. He next took over control of my laptop by remote. So for the next 7 1/2 hours, yes, 7 1/2 hours, he worked on my computer, deleting over 700 files, moving others, running a check disk after much effort to get that to work and finally fixed the error message problems and enabled me to load Vista compatible software. Unfortunately, I now have a new problem, I can't access the Internet from that computer. He deleted or moved a file for a network adapter, a modem or some sort of driver that allows my computer to communicate and access the Internet. So for the last 8 days, I've been "working with" Microsoft to figure out exactly what he did and why the Internet no longer works. Microsoft tried to convince me it wasn't anything they did, that first it must be a problem with Comcast (nope, checked it all out), then it must be a hardware problem for the computer's manufacturer, nope. It's all just a big coincidence after their guy deleted over 700 files and moved others that the message I get when I try to access the Internet is that a file it needs is missing, having either been deleted or moved. *sigh*

Monday, November 17, 2008


I saw both of these in today's Washington Post newspaper. What do you think? (Click on each to make them larger.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Okay, I'm making this official declaration, the Spring of 2008 through the Spring of 2009 is my official Year of Politics. Between getting involved in the national election for the Obama campaign, and getting involved in the 1st District race for Congress in Maryland for Frank Kratovil, and now today, we've just helped launch the Mayoral race for a friend of ours, Jim Ireton, we will be devoting our spare time and money to elections. We were very successful in the first two and have high hopes of success in the final one. We have fund raisers to plan, door-to-door campaigning to do, brochures to design, and the work will not end. Another friend is running for re-election to the City Council and we'll likely be working on yet another friend's campaign for a seat on the City Council from a different district.

On the one hand, this is all very exhausting, on the other, it's very exciting and I don't feel so helpless in the direction my country, my state, and my community are heading. I'm doing everything I can to change the direction we've all been going in for far too long. At the launch of our friend's Mayoral campaign, a friend came up to us and said, did you hear about the Prop 8 Protests? I hadn't and she told me there would be protests all over the country starting at 1:30. She wanted to know where the protest would be in our town. I hadn't a clue, but on the way home from the mayoral event, there in front of the hospital were a group of 20-30 young people with signs and flags and I laid on my car horn, waving and hollering for them as I drove by. I am so glad so many people are finally getting out there and standing up for what they believe in.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

I remember putting this up in the past, but I was reminded of it again when another blogger posted it and it's appropriate for today. Today is Veteran's Day. Take a moment to remember those who have served, those who are currently serving, and if you live near your family's cemetery, go lay some flowers and clean off the graves of your relatives. It's a great time to reflect, be thankful and honor.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Horror Stories?

Okay, so I'm an anxious person. I got to the polls this morning before 6 a.m. The polls were scheduled to open at 7 a.m. I was third in line of about 50 people by the time the polls opened.

I get up to the table, give them my name and they can't find it. That's okay, people misspell it all the time. Still nothing. The lady looks for my name in the City, County, and the State and says, "I'm sorry, but we're not showing you as a registered voter." I say, "Oh no you don't. Do I look familiar?" The lady says, "why yes you do, oh I know you, you worked the elections with us before." I say, "correct. I worked this polling place for the last Presidential election and the following municipal election as an Election Judge. I've also supervised the counting of absentee ballots numerous times for the Board of Elections as County Attorney. I've voted in EVERY election for the last 5 years I've lived in this state. There's no way I'm not in your system, and if I'm not, somebody's got a lot of explaining to do." So the lady persists looking for the next 15 minutes. She finally calls a supervisor over. He can't find me either. "Are you sure you're registered to vote?" He asks me. By then, other election workers come over to say hi to me and vouch that I am a registered voter and I should be in the system.

Well, eventually since nothing they do is bringing up my name, they then look up my address. There I am, a registered voter, including the other registered voters in the house. For some reason, my name was dropped from the names list and the address list wasn't cross referencing the names. So, they get that figured out and then discover, I'm in the wrong polling place.

Nope, not possible. Here's my voter registration card that says for Primaries I vote at location "A" and for general elections I vote at location "B." "Yep, that's what it says alright, but the computer says otherwise." So I go to the other location and wait in line all over again to vote. I did eventually get to vote, but I wonder, if so many election workers hadn't known me, would they have tried as hard to get to the bottom of the discrepancy, and also, how many other people's names have been dropped from the computer's list or aren't cross-referenced?

Monday, November 3, 2008

T.A.P.S. - The Ghost Hunters

Okay, this probably would have been a good post for Halloween, but I just didn't think of it in time. I'm posting this now because I saw an article about my favorite ghost hunters on the CNN website. When Ghosts Attack

I am glued to the tube every Wednesday night watching back-to-back episodes of my guys on the SciFi Channel. Go here to watch full episodes: Ghost Hunters

I'd always wondered if any of the ghosts they found ever followed them home. Another ghost hunter in the CNN story said they have. Creepy. Do you watch Ghost Hunters? I think I like this show because Grant and Jason go into the hunt armed with all sorts of technology and common sense. They disprove quite a number of cases where people think there's a haunting, but when they catch an image on video or a voice on tape, Man! Creep me out! Here's a short clip of them catching an image.

European Vacation - not the movie - Spain

We successfully visited and drove in four countries speaking three foreign languages well enough to get what we wanted without insulting any...