Category Archives: Info

Just information about the blog.

ODDGODFREY MAKES A BOOK

I’ve been reposting Oddgodfrey (read Leslie Godfrey’s) posts since they took off almost three years ago to circumnavigate the planet. They’ve had some most excellent adventures, and no doubt about it. Well, do continue to follow them. They took off, just two in a 40-foot sailboat named Sonrisa, and went to the place where land is just a distant memory. (Remember when they posted their lattitude and longitude, and the result upon putting those into Google Maps was just a blue screen with a pin in it?) In the near future they will be visiting home in Las Vegas, but the exciting news is that OddGodfrey (Leslie) has created a children’s book, about a unicorn that goes to sea. It’s not entirely fictional. And they are looking for people to help them get the word out. Okay, here’s my first contribution, but I’m just me. You can help, too. Just cllick this link: https://www.oddgodfrey.com/oddlog/launchteamrecruits and read all about it.

Of course, if you don’t like adventure, exotic food, children’s books, or unicorns, you can ignore this post entirely. But please don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Basics

I am a writer. I’m writing even as I write. Yes. But I can’t just put writing related stuff here once a week and call it good. Sure, I’ll put writing related stuff here, when it is the topic. But, not always. Not today. You know, absolutely anything feeds a writing career. You can stand aside at a party and make up stories for all the weird people you see (and everybody is weird.) You can read a manual on how to repair a weed whacker and get inspired. Okay? So, everything you read here is writing related, ipso facto. So.

Today I’m going to write about watching a presidency crash and burn. This is my second one, and the similarities are legion. The denials, the new evidence contradicting the denials, the further denials, and then, finally, the camel’s back breaks and, here’s a big difference, Dick Nixon (I voted for that asshole!) had the grace to retire before he was utterly destroyed. The incumbent this time, eeeeeeeehhh, probably won’t. He really is a Narcissistic Personality. Not just a guy with narcissistic tendencies. Hell, I have narcissistic tendencies, but a full blown psychiatric disorder. Don’t believe me? Then read this description from the DSM:

https://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/courses/materials/Narc.Pers.DSM.pdf

It’s in PDF format, so, no worries, you can read it. Download it, even. Read it and weep, because it describes President Trump perfectly. In fact, my PhD psychologist daughter told me that, prior to his being nominated for President, he was commonly used as a literal textbook example of a narcissistic personality.

Being NPD, Trump can no more resign than he can fly (though he may dispute the fact that he can’t fly, but you and I know he can’t.) He also, of course, can’t live to be 150, negotiate better than anyone, or bring peace in our time, but he likes to think he can, so he thinks he can. A person with NPD is, you can see, divorced from reality. Since he can see no difference between himself and the world, the world is, for him, limited to his own experience, which is limited, because everybody’s experience is limited. One thing that has shocked Trump is the fact that the President of the United States is actually one of the least powerful people on the planet. If he had the following he thinks he does, maybe he could have more influence over the world. As it is, he can influence only other individual world leaders, and then only enough to let him think that he’s won. Sad, huh? Since, in his experience, he has never lost anything, or at least never failed to cover his losses with bluster and bluff, he will never see a reason to retire with some remaining dignity and grace. (Some would argue that he’s never had any in the first place.) Which means that he’s going to be pulled out of the Oval Office by his ankles, should he be impeached (as seems likely) and convicted (which seems less so, but the way he’s going these days, I wouldn’t bet against it.)

Whatever happens, it is interesting to watch, just as it was in the fall of 1973. You know, the fall of an American President. Here comes that big hill . . .

 

 

Stereotypes

The oldest house in Paris, next to the Jardin de l’hôtel de Sens

Which makes the house, duh, l’hôtel de Sens. Since you’re curious, here’s a bit of the garden.

The garden and hôtel pictured are in the area of Paris known as Saint-Paul. You can call up a walking tour of the quarter on your phone and follow it around, which is what we were doing when we visited this garden, which is in fact a lovely park in a quiet neighborhood. The building is medieval, as you can see. Most of Paris was razed and redone during the 19th century at the behest of Napoleon III, but a few things, like this and Notre Dame, were spared. So it’s worth looking for.

While we were looking for it, and other parts of the quarter, we walked looking at our phones. Time after time a Parisian native would stop us and ask us if we needed help finding something. Of course, we didn’t, but this behavior was from people popularly thought of as snooty and unhelpful, on the good side. I’m here to tell you that such is not at all the case. Indulge me in another story if you will, this time involving motor fuel and cash.

Tami and I carry the same credit card, so when one of ours (nevermind) was lost on the bus from the airport to the Gare Montparnasse, we had to cancel it. This meant that we had no credit card with which to buy gasoline for our rental car. (We did set it up so that the card was valid for the rental car company, and nobody else, until the end of our rental period.) (Europecar. I recommend them.) We took a train to Angoulême, where we stayed for five days. Charente is a beautiful area (formerly a province, but long story,) and here’s the view out of our bedroom window to prove it.

A view to the East from Angoulême near the center of town.

From Angoulême we drove to Bordeaux, Saint Émilion, Cognac, Royan, and Chabonais over the course of several days. By that time we were low on gas. The station we found (there aren’t as many as we have here) was credit cards only at the pump. The kiosk where one can convert cash to a ticket with which to buy fuel was broken. Thing is, I had never really spoken French before, but when we decided to ask someone to use their card and I’d give them cash (our debit card still worked at least, but not on gas pumps) I looked around and saw only French people. It was raining hard, too. I asked the man at the next pump, “comprendez-vous Ainglais?” and got a “non.” Digging deep, deep into what I’ve learned from various sources (Duolingo is a great place to start) I then used my no doubt horrible French to ask him the favor. He was eager to help the poor American, and I gave him fifty Euros, after which he pumped fifty Euros and one cent worth of gas into our car. (Amazingly, that exactly filled the tank.) I gave him every compliment in French I could think of, and he smilingly said goodbye.

I ask you, is that rude and unhelpful? (Spoiler alert — no, it is exactly the opposite of rude and unhelpful.)

I’ve posted about this before, but whatever you do to other people is reflected back on to you. In France, we take pains to be polite. French polite. That means always say hello, please, thank you, and goodbye. To everybody. Sounds silly, right?

Not to the fine, friendly, helpful people of France it doesn’t. Votre santé, France!

 

Beagles are Evil

Tyrion LeChien, Beagle

Many people do not know this. Beagle lovers, never to be trusted on that basis alone, will argue the point. But, Beagles are evil. If you just stepped in a fresh pile of dog poop in your own hallway, you probably keep a Beagle. If no surface in your home is a safe place to cool a pie, you probably own a Beagle. Even a bit of Beagle background can corrupt even the normally fine and well-behaved Basset Hound. I know this from experience. Sure, Buffy the Basset Hound was evil, because she was also part Beagle. No pure Basset would ever be so disdainful of house rules and the masters’ wishes as dear old Buffy. Stubborn doesn’t cover it, either. We tried an invisible fence with a shock collar. She quivered, she peed, and she kept pushing until she was free of the evil fence. On the outside of it. That was the Beagle in her.

Tyrion LeChien, sure, he seems innocent enough. He loves his walks. So much so that he’ll slip out of his  harness to keep walking if his owner, or even the other dog sharing the leash, hesitates too long. He slips his leash using evil magic; there is no other explanation. And he is always cute and loveable and innocent, even when he is leaving a puddle of pee the size of lake Mead on the floor, with a big old steamin’ hunk of souvenier from yesterday’s lunch in the middle of it. Evil. No other word for it.

And that’s Beagles. You gotta love ’em, because otherwise the SPCA would have you hanging by your pathetic thumbs. Because they’re evil. Look in the dictionary if you don’t believe me. Beagle=evil=Beagle. See? I would never lie to you!

 

COVER YOUR PRODUCTIVE TUSH!

The View from Universal Studios as it was In 2003.

Looking at that pic, I can see how camera technology has advanced in sixteen years. It’s fuzzy! But, I digress.

When I say cover your productive tush, I mean have a plan for when your hard drive crashes, your computer gets dropped into an outhouse, somebody steals your laptop, you know, all that stuff that you read about ruining writers’ projects. Because, you know, there are things you can do. And to prove it, I shall tell you what some of those things are.

First, Back Up Everything!

There are a couple of ways to do backups. I use both of them. The first, older way is simply to buy an external hard disk and  plug it into your computer. Then, no matter what OS you use, you will find a handy-dandy backup routine already built in! Wowzers! I use Windows, and I’ve had excellent luck simply letting Windows decide what to back up. But, it’s up to you, you can decide what you do or don’t want backed up. If you do these backups regularly (Windows lets you do it on a continuous basis in the background) you will always have a copy of the latest saved version of every one of your files. So, after the dog eats your work, you buy a new laptop, plug in the external drive, and recover it all.

What is a backup, you say?

A backup is just a copy of a computer file (or a lot of them.) That’s it. It’s usually possible to use the backup copy directly, without even “recovering” it, but if you do that, you’re defeating the purpose of having an extra copy. So, first thing to do to recover from a disaster is to always make backups as  you go along.

The second way to make a backup is to use “Cloud Storage.” You probably don’t know that “the cloud” is just a term techies made up to indicate that the exact location of the data isn’t necessarily known, but it’s out there. (Technically, it may not even all be in one place, but it looks like it is.) Quite a few places will give you a certain amount of “cloud storage” for free. A big novel, I’m talking a humongous work, something to make War and Peace look like a pamphlet, is still an amazingly small computer file. Many, if not all, of these free cloud storage services will automatically back up your stuff to the cloud, and, again, you can tell the service what to back up. If you subscribe to Office 365, you get a terabyte of storage included. A terabyte is enough to store most of the Library of Congress’s contents on. No kidding. You only get at the most something like 50 gigabytes (probably a lot less) for free, but it will still be more than you’ll ever need to keep your projects on. If you use Windows with OneDrive (that’s what they call their cloud storage) you just keep everything in a folder by that name on your local drive, and whatever is in there is automatically backed up when  you connect to the Internet. Since I do subscribe to Office 365, I don’t have much experience with other cloud backup schemes, but I’m told that they are similar. Use whatever service you like (Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) but use one of them and use it all the time!

Save Your Work All the Time!

Yes, I said All the Time! I use Word. (In the old days, I was a WordPerfect user, but once everything went GUI (look it up) I switched because it is simple and easy. And, Word works on Mac and PC, and is free on handheld devices, so what the heck, huh?) Word includes the ability, if you use OneDrive at least, to continuously backup your document (book, silly) as you type. By using Word and OneDrive (and I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish the same thing) I always have a backup copy of my project, no matter what happens. Worst case scenario is that I lose a few lines of text. Seriously, that’s the worst that could happen. Barring that, Word can be set up save the document you are in at intervals as short as one minute. Could you afford to lose a minute’s work? Probably. Keep your project on a cloud drive, save as often as you can, and boy, howdy, you can’t lose your precious files if you want to.

(Okay, you could delete them.)

There you go: back-up your work, either to an external hard drive or to the cloud, and save your work as often as possible. You can take a few minutes just once to set all of that up, then you’ll never have to think about it again. Until disaster strikes, when you’ll be congratulating yourself for being smart enough to have done that.

Good writing, fellow scribes!

Comments?

I have approved 81 comments so far. Well, that’s the total. If I approve one from a commenter, future ones from the same source don’t need approval. Thing is, I get more than 81 comments in a week. Not sure what the scam is, but it’s got to be a scam. Any comments that anyone but myself sees, though, is approved and safe. But I am curious as to what scam is being attempted. If anyone knows, could you drop me a comment below with that info? I’d appreciate it!

Computer Advice (Free!)

It’s Rocky; It’s a Coast; It’s Maine!

Written in response to some specific incidents. If you write with a computer (any electronic device) you should read this.

You may be reading this on a smartphone. You may be reading this on some sort of tablet (there are lots of them these days.) You may even be reading it on a desktop computer, which is what I produce this site with. No matter which device you use, you are, in fact, using a computer (yes, even if it’s an Apple product.) I am inspired to write this post because of several instances later where I’ve either advised, or had to, do a hard reboot on a device. (Most recently this desktop on which I write.)

The desktop story is that I clicked on a mail that looked like it was from the USPS. Delivery problems, it said. Okay, that happens. But instead of an email I got a loud message about how someone has used my ip address without my knowledge to access a site with dangerous malware on it, and now my computer is “locked up” because of that. Now, first of all, nobody can ever know whether you or a hacker used your ip address without your knowledge. What are they, mind readers? Second, the technical term is not “locked up.” What happens is that your computer is locked, and you are “locked out.” And thirdly, they wouldn’t put a phone number in the warning page. There were updates pending, so what the heck, I ignored the warnings from the loud page and restarted. My computer updated, but the loud page didn’t go away. So I did a “hard reboot,” aka a “cold reboot,” and everything is fine. Fancy that. Now, if you’ve never been an IT person, you might not even know what a “cold reboot” is. I mean, you turn your device off and on all the time, I’m sure. But you still have times when the thing seems slow, messed up, won’t run your favorite app, won’t even make a call sometimes. I speak from experience. A hard, or cold reboot will cure all of these ailments in any computer.

What is a hard, cold reboot? If you have a desktop without a battery you can easily demonstrate one. Just reach around behind the big box wherein the mystery that is your computer resides. Pull out the power cord, carefully so as not to damage it, and then wait thirty seconds, and then plug the cord back in. Poof! A computer has billions of teeny circuits that, taken together, represent everything the computer can do. Each teeny circuit (I’m talking electron microscope teeny here) is either on or off. When the computer is first turned on, it sets each teeny circuit to “off.” That makes a clean working area for what follows, which will first be your operating system, then whatever apps you decide to run. Starting clean like that means that your programs will all run optimally, you know, as near to perfectly as possible. You should do it once in a while even if you don’t have trouble, as a way to prevent trouble from cropping up.

But what if you have a battery in your device. My desktop, for example, is in fact a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 plugged into a docking station. It acts just like a desktop; I’m using a large format monitor, plus a real keyboard (bliss) and a mouse. Easy-peasy to use, but tricky to cold reboot. For many tablets, the trick to hard (cold) reboot is to hold down the power button until the device turns on again. Huh? Well, it’s on when you start. Press the power button and ignore the screen messages. After a bit your device will turn off. If you keep holding the power button down, the device will turn on again shortly. If it doesn’t start back up in thirty seconds, let go of the power button, then press it again. In fact, if you accidentally let go of the power button after the device is off, that’s okay too. Just press the power button (for a few seconds, usually) until your device restarts.

I’ve had Motorola phones that cold rebooted just like that. My Samsung requires me to hold down both the power button and the volume down button at the same time. Something similar works with every tablet and smartphone with a battery. With phones, especially, it’s a good idea to do that cold reboot every couple of days. I do it before I go out driving for Lyft or Uber, as their driver apps are veritable resource hogs. (I mean that they use up a lot of memory, processing time, network bandwidth, and battery. It’s the memory that causes problems, so a cold reboot makes sure the app has all that it needs.)

There you go: my public service announcement for the quarter, uh, half, uh, year? Whatever. Cold boot your device every so often. You’ll be glad you did.

Miss Me?

Where I Attended High School

The picture was taken last year during my 50th High School Class Reunion. Time flies when you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, doesn’t it? I didn’t know it at the time, but I was receiving an education superior to the norm. But I still doubt that this teacher could map genes while I wait. I’m not that patient.

Anyway, this may be the first time you’ve been able to read one of my posts in a long time. A few people have, somehow, but I’m not sure how they got in here. It seems that somehow I deleted the index.php file in the root directory of this site. A rather dumb thing to do, as it simply results in a “forbidden” message when you try to connect. Even if you’re me, as it turns out. I’ve been having to log in before getting here. Took me months to figure that out. There are several web sites in the same root directory, so instead of the start page for a web site, index.php is a script that sends a request to the appropriate subdirectory. I actually wrote that script, and it even works, so there’s a rare thing for you right there.

Anyhow, feel free to go back through the posts to catch up. You can search “writing” if you want to see my Wednesday posts, or just scroll back through time like a stoner stuck in reverse. Your choice. Then, from this point on, you will be able to keep up with my posts by simply visiting this site once again (it’s the default landing point at stevefey.com.) Or, subscribe, if you wish. Who knows? You might like it!

What I’ve been up to

My latest harvest. Not quite two pounds of the best honey I’ve ever tasted

So, yeah, there’s keeping bees. Since I collected that sweet stuff, it’s gotten too hot to even open a hive to look in on my workers. They’re flying out and back again, laden with nectar and pollen, so I’m not worried. In about six weeks I’ll take another look. If I’m right, I’ll get about double that from  two of my three hives. (#3 is new this year, so they get a bye.) That’s one thing.

Another thing has been “supervising” the guys installing our new flooring, which looks mahvelous, by the way. There were two of them, and they worked long hours for four days in a row to level our awful floors and install some waterproof laminate that wood’s own mom wouldn’t know wasn’t wood. That killed last week.

The week before that, well, see my previous post. Not the one from OddGodfrey, you silly, mine.

Today I drove 200 miles to our place outside Ash Fork Arizona to collect rent from tenants living in our old place outside of Ash Fork Arizona, and to check on the damage from a recent awful storm. For the tenants, the score is storm 2, them zip, as it took out their mini fridge and water heater. So, I’m shopping for a new water heater for my tenants, if you have one extra lying about. For our own place, we have some serious erosion problems, and three of my security cameras now have bad power supplies. Swell. And, when I got there, I discovered that I’d left the water on to the swamp cooler, which drained our cistern, so I had no water. Double swell.

And, besides that, I’m in the middle of revising my YA, and drafting my new Middle Grader, which, yes, I have been doing daily since returning from Denver. Phew. No real point this week, just wanted to vent a bit. Thank you for reading it.