Google Chrome

OK, I did it.  I downloaded Google Chrome on my iMac. It was done under duress because my bank decided to update their bill pay service and failed to consider that many of their customers use Safari. It worked OK right up until you pressed the button to actually send money to pay a bill. Then it went to a white screen and stayed there. Like, forever.

Very disturbing.

I’ve fought this conversion for a long time because I was rebelling against all those notices I received to upgrade to Chrome and I didn’t want to be forced to do it. “They” found a way to do it anyway. Thankfully, Chrome works well with my bank, just like the folks on the their help desk said it would. Also, it’s pretty speedy which upsets me because I didn’t want to like it. I just wanted to pay my bills, ya know?

Now, after using it for a few hours, I have to admit that I kinda like it.

I guess I’m a Chrome Convert.

Dang!

Appliances That Talk To You

Today I’m going to get excited about techie stuff. I’m doing that because I love inanimate ‘things’ that are capable of sending emails. Like our smoke alarms, for instance. Yes, they talk to me on a regular basis.

We have three of them in the house and they are all part of a Nest network that includes an internet connected thermostat, and a camera.

The smoke alarm that’s in charge, the one in the basement, I think, sends an email once a month to alert me that it’s going to test the system and to not be alarmed. It’s only a test. But, the will be noise. A few minutes later each of the three alarms are activated, one after another, with a lower volume than normal.

The thermostat doesn’t talk but it allows me to change settings from anywhere in the world. I’ve been known to fiddle with the temperature when one of the kids are house sitting for us during one of our infrequent absences from the premises. Keeps them on their toes.

My newest addition to my smart appliances is my CPAP. Yesterday morning, much to Diane’s delight, I had a 0730 appointment at the VA Medical Center in Portland for them to check my CPAP. It was routine visit at the end of which the tech gave me a new machine. I’ve had the old one for well over 10 years but it still works so she let me keep it as a spare should the new one fail. That was good because now I can just leave the old one in the trailer and not worry about having to move it from the the house. Moving it isn’t a big deal unless I forget to also move the power supply. Which I’ve done. More than once. Let me tell you – that isn’t a good thing to do if you’re trying to impress your spouse about how hard you’re working to ensure her vacation is going to be stress free, and quiet.

Now, the problem with not taking the new CPAP wherever we go is that by using the old unit I won’t get credit for using the new one and it sends me an email, every day, to tell me how great I’m doing. This thing even has an Airplane Mode so you can use it on an airplane. I have to admit that I would have never been tempted to do that.

The thing about having the Airplane Mode is that the unit automatically connects to the internet. All by itself. I find that interesting because our internet at home requires a password, but it connects anyway. So, I’m thinking that the NSA may have something to do with the people who own the company so they can keep tabs on me. The tech told me that the unit only transmits via internet, but it cannot receive. She told me that when I voice a concern that someone random hacker could get to my CPAP and suffocate me. I think she was truthful, but you never know.

I think that’s enough of that.

Today has been another good day because it’s almost supper time and I’m still wearing my pajamas. The reason I’ve been allowed to remained dressed in this manner is because I elected to (finally) do our taxes. I took it as far as I could but can’t finish until I get a question answered by one of the financial institutions with which we do business.

Now I’m going to get engaged with March Madness and watch basketball games.

Jerrie

 

My Stupid Computer – Phase II

I’m just here to report that I outsmarted my old computer. Yessir, I did that. Using helpful information I found on the internet I figured out how to make a USB boot drive that allowed me to erase and reformat the hard drive, then install Apple OS X Sierra. That task required that I dive deep into my past and reacquaint myself with the wonderful world of UNIX. It was a fun trip. I made it back alive.

Now the computer works just fine. When I told Diane that the failed computer now works, she asked if I was going to take the new one back. I told her “no” because I know, deep down in my heart, that if I did that the newly resurrected computer would fail again and cause me just that much more grief. So, the new one is staying right here.

As for the old one? That’s up in the air right now, but I’ll figure out something. I’m thinking about setting both of them on my desk, side by side. That probably wouldn’t work because they are both 27″ units. My desk isn’t big enough. But, I have some wood ….

Anyway, thought I’d just share something meaningful for a change.

Stupid Computers, Ears, Lions International, Jerrie, and Popcorn

Before I get carried away here, I need to add something about my trip back to Best Buy to retrieve my old computer. You know, the one that broke? Well, when the Geek Guy tried to refund the $80 because they couldn’t find any data to transfer he ran into a problem that required help. I won’t bore you with the details, like normal, but will cut right to the chase. The problem he was having was that when he brought up the purchase Best Buy’s computers had reworked the totals because the computer I bought the day before was on sale that day. So, in addition to the $80 refund I got an extra $200 due to the reduced price. What a deal, don’t you think? It almost made me want to go out and buy something else that I could return. But, I didn’t. I counted my blessings and left happy.

Here’s another update on the computer problems. I may have mentioned that I had perfectly good back ups on a 4TB drive I used for that purpose, and that the failed computer, as it gasped for life, felt the need to inform that backup drive that it was leaving and that no more backups were in the works. As a matter of fact, it told the backup drive that the backups it had could be summarily dismissed. So, bowing to the superior knowledge of my Apple iMac computer, my 4TB Western Digital My Cloud drive somehow made all those back files just disappear. Stupid My Cloud. Why would it believe a dying computer?

But – the new computer, the replacement, could access the drive, but I wasn’t going to trust it for future backups. Nope. Not a chance. Instead I set up the new Seagate 1TB drive that I purchased for the Geek Guys to use for transferring data. It works great and it’s dedicated with a direct connect with a USB 3.0 connection. Also, since the new computer so easily found the My Cloud drive, it also was able to drill down to the ‘Jerrie’ folder where there just happened to be a “Documents” folder that still had all the documents I thought I’d lost. Literally hundreds of them including one folder that holds a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the years. Those files were there because I apparently had the foresight to manually copy them from the old computer before it started losing it’s memory.

Life is so much better now that I have my Documents back. Sadly, the other thing that would have come in really handy is the Key Chain file which held all the passwords for pretty much everything I access. I’m guessing I’ll survive without it, but I really like all those passwords. Some of them I’ve had for years.

Last Wednesday I attended my first Church Council meeting in a year. Prior to that year off I served on Council for six consecutive years. For some reason I agreed to return for another round of abuse and was at Wednesday’s meeting to see what was in store for me.

The main order of business was electing new officers. Before any nominations could be made I spoke up and volunteered to be the new Secretary. One of those going off council was the Secretary and I can take notes. And I can type. I did this to also eliminate any possibility that I might be nominated for a position that had responsibilities. The ploy worked and I avoided getting a real job. Lucky me.

On Thursday I skipped coffee with the guys at the Kozy because I needed to study for a mess of tests I was going to have at the Vestibular Lab at Good Sam. I’ve mentioned this previously, I think. It’s all about the body’s system that helps keep us vertical, and makes us spatially aware. It’s pretty important, I hear. The testing took 2.5 hours and I appeared to pass them all. In the end I left with the knowledge that mechanically I’m kind of OK, so whatever it is that’s making Jerrie almost fall down is probably something going haywire with my tiny little brain. The Doc didn’t actually say that, but there’s really not another option.

During the vestibular testing I learned some amazing things about what they test and how they interpret the results. Bottom line, these folks can perform their non-invasive tests on newborns and discern if the child has any kind of hearing impairment. Really. A newborn. That just blew my mind. They do it with puffs of air, clicking noises, water, and stick on monitor terminals. One of the tests that checks the ability of the Cochlear to convert sound waves into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain. My doc said they used to do this by sticking a needle through the ear drum then used that needle to induce the needed sound waves. Thankfully, there’s a new toy in town that does the same work simply by sticking a ‘thing’ in the ear canal.

OK. Enough of that. I’ll learn more at some point in the future after Dr. Brown reviews the tests.

Yesterday was a long one. I mentioned that Ahmed, our Pakistani Grand Son, a foreign exchange student staying with our daughter, Jennifer, gave a stellar presentation at our last local Lion’s meeting. Because he did such a great job, he was invited to attend the Oregon Convention in McMinnville. It was an all day affair that required we leave home at 0630 in order to be there by 0800. One of the first things that happened during registration was we all received stick on mustaches. I’m sad that Diane didn’t wear hers for the photo. Nifty, huh?

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Many people spoke, some of them were very good, we had lunch, and we (Diane and I) voted for new officers for District 36-O. Another thing that happened was all the First Time convention attendees were forced to go to the front and stand in a row so folks could look at us. Hank captured us.

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As the day wore into afternoon, and our time away from the house entered the danger zone for leaving the dogs alone for so long, we bid our adieus and headed out the door. We missed the entertainment, I hear, but we also got home before dark.

My Lion sponsor, and past District 36-O Governor, Hank, received an award. I got to document that. On the left is the Lion International Director, then Hank, and the current 36-O governor (the reason for the stick on mustaches).

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On the way to our vehicle Ahmed had to stop and get a photo with his new best friend who was sitting on a bench outside the facility.

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Now, for som totally unrelated information that may or may not interest you. First is a photo of our youngest Grand Daughter, Jerrie Anne Diane, (my and Diane’s namesake) during a class event on Valentines Day. Jerrie is sitting on the floor in front of everyone. That’s my girl.

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Next, and last, is a photo of popcorn we had the other day. Diane has become addicted to popcorn for her evening snack. Although it’s theater microwave popcorn, we put butter on it anyway – half a cube for a bag. Then it’s really good. Sadly. our microwave is losing it’s mind, probably because it was hanging out with my old computer during the night. Anyway, it cycles through all of it’s options, just for fun, while we sit in the living room. That wouldn’t be so bad except it beeps every time it changes something. Sometimes it gets really busy. We’ve been waiting for it to quit totally, but it still perks along. Even so, it seems to get confused with the ‘Popcorn’ button once in a while, popping the corn for only a portion of the allotted time at something other than full power. The result is a bag that only half popped. That happened the other night so Diane added some more time and just let it run until the popping stopped. Doing this pretty much fries all the corn that’s already popped. So, I popped her another bag which worked just great, and I ate the burned one. It wasn’t too bad.

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That’s all I’ve got.

Wondering about Stuff, Quilts, and a BLT

This morning as I lay trapped by a cat on our couch, I got to wondering. Not about anything specific, but about things in general. I find that life is much less stressful if I generalize everything and don’t dwell on specifics. Specifics require concentration and knowledge about actual “stuff”. It’s much easier to just make up things … for instance …

I was released from the mother ship just a few days ago and when I got home I couldn’t wait to get to my computer to tell everyone about that incredible experience. It was really awesome. But, as soon as I touched my computer things started going haywire in the electronic world and finally ended in the demise of my treasured Apple iMac computer. I fiddled with it for a couple of days before giving up and seeking the help of the Best Buy Geek Squad. I was so distraught (ask Diane) that I took the old iMac to the store without first making an appointment, like Apple Folks do at the Apple Store, but they took it in hand with the promise that they would extract all the data they could find and export it to the 1TB drive I provided. Knowing, deep down in my heart, that I’d never see the old iMac run properly again, I purchased a new one to take home. Like all Apple products, it wasn’t cheap, but it’s really nice and I’m used to it. So there.

Anyway, once home I extracted the new iMac from its box, found the new keyboard and mouse, got new batteries for both and proceeded to get it all set up. The first problem I encountered was with the keyboard. It’s wireless, but there’s no place to put the batteries. As a matter of fact, the HDD is about half as thick as a AA battery and just a little thinner than a AAA battery. Discovering this prompted me to turn the mouse upside down, which I did, and noticed right away that there isn’t a battery cover on it, either. A mystery, but quickly solved when I noticed the Lightening port which indicated I was dealing with a futuristic mouse like the ones the aliens use. A more thorough investigation of the keyboard revealed the same port on it. That would, I surmised,explain the presence of the brand new lightening cable that was packaged with the keyboard and mouse.

Setting those two items in front of the new iMac I turned on the power, trusting that the keyboard and mouse were truly already paid like the instructions said. They were and things worked just great. All that’s missing is all the data I had on the old iMac. It’s gone into the ozone, headed for a fiery demise on a journey to nowhere. Sad. I had 42,000+ photos on that computer, as well as about a ton of documents, that I’ll never see again. Thankfully, I uploaded all the photos to my iCloud server a couple of weeks ago, but just hadn’t made it to uploading the documents. I know, however, that those documents are lurking around here somewhere on a wayward thumb drive, or on the My Cloud drive I used to use for backing up the old iMac. Regarding the latter … it quit backing up recently and apparently convinced this 4TB drive that there wasn’t anything on it. I know that’s a lie but I can’t yet prove it because of login issues. Yes, I’m having those. Something about not knowing the password. That information, of course, was on the old iMac.

Now I’m sitting at this new computer that’s really, really fast … mainly because there’s really nothing on it. Yet. I do have it hooked to my iCloud, wherever that is, and you’ll all be happy to know I can see all those photos. They are safe. The really big item I’m missing is the spreadsheet I made using Excel that provides all the details I need to be debt free in three years. It took a while to make it because it has a bunch of formulas in it that I’ve added over time. If I can’t recreate this thing then I’ll never get out of debt.

I was going somewhere more interesting at the start of this but it’s gone, now. So, I’ll stay with the computer for a while.

Diane took me to Portland yesterday to give up the old iMac for the work described, and on the way home we were stranded on Highway 30 for a couple of hours to accommodate the actions of an idiot driver who thought it would be OK to pass a bunch of people in the center median – a big no-no. When trying to regain the lane he apparently hit a van and caused it to flip over. For those of you familiar with Highway 30 this happened near the weigh station. We learned today that no one was injured in the accident except for the hundreds and hundreds of motorists trapped in the requisite traffic jam going both ways for miles. Nifty. Thankfully, both Diane and I are retired, and it was a bright sunny day, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view, one of which was a flock of geese that landed in the overflow lakes from the Willamette Slough. We watched them paddling north, our direction, and we couldn’t keep up. It was OK. We finally made it through and made it home. The dogs were glad, but they’re glad to see us when we come back after a 3 minute walk to get the mail. It’s like they thought we’d be gone forever.

This morning the Geek Guys called to report that they were unable to extract any data from the iMac because it looked like it had recently been restored. I’m pretty sure that’s something I did while fiddling around trying to figure it out on my own. That’s what I get for thinking I know stuff, ya know?

After absorbing this information we made another trip to Portland to retrieve the failed unit and get the $80 refund for the fee charged to transfer data to the new HDD I mentioned earlier. That drive, by the way, is really tiny and it hardly weighs anything. But, it’s got enough room to make continuous back ups on this new iMac. It’s amazing.

Going back to last week, there’s more fun stuff that happened. The 37th Annual Quilt Show was hosted at Bethany by the WELCA ladies. It’s quite an event and this year was the best in many years. Here’s what our humble little church looked like for last Friday and Saturday …

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These photos were taken before the doors opened to the hoards waiting for access. Sadly, I wasn’t around to get photos of those folks. I think I was home sleeping. No! I was home trying to get that iMac to work. That’s it!

This is Angela and Diane (my 1st wife) working hard to wrap things up so the drawing for the quilt winner could commence.

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To end, here’s the BLT Diane made me for lunch yesterday. It was awesome.

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Now I must quit because my eyes burn. A lot. I need eye dropsThe font size on the new iMac gets way smaller than the old one. Really, really tiny. I like it that way so I can get lots and lots of open windows in view.

Things & Stuff

Lots of Things and Stuff have happened and transpired over the last 10 days. Thankfully, Diane keeps good track of what’s going on by making sure everything is on our shared calendar. Even little things like “Jerrie take pills”. That’s an important one because, alas, I sometimes forget. I’m sure that’s a surprise to most of you, but I really do. Even when my overflowing pill case is sitting right in front of my keyboard all the time.

Using the calendar, I’m going to try something different and go in order. Doing that won’t, however, deter me from wandering off the beaten path once in a while to fill in where things need to be filled in.

First, Donna, Mother of Steffani, Wife of Jim, Husband of Bob, and Grandmother of Daniel, Tyler, and Maryssa, had a birthday on January 26th. I may have mentioned this before, but don’t feel like looking back in my posts. Jim thinks she only 58 but he’s like one of those records that keep skipping back, repeating the same verses over and over, and you have to bump it to make it continue. Since I’m not there to do that, he’s stuck on 58. I’m sure she’s at least 62 because I’m pretty sure she’s drawing Social Security now. This will be a shock to him, I’m sure, but he can take. Learning about that extra income will perk him up.

Reaching back into my ancient bag of IT tricks I was able to resurrect the Windows XP computer that belongs to my friend, Jeri. Now, getting an XP computer to function isn’t really as difficult as you might think because it is, after all, just a silly computer. The difference is that it hasn’t received any updates from Microsoft for a few years, and internet security has been absent for nearly as long. That would make one who does online finances a little jittery which is why I was summoned. It’s tax time, you know. Well, it’s almost tax time. That will be on April 17th this year since Jim’s birthday in on Saturday. He was born on the normal tax day. That’s April 15th, in case you were wondering. Jim will be 80 on that day. OK, now I’m feeling old …

Getting that old computer to respond was awesome and I left feeling pretty good about myself. Not bad for an IT guy who was dubbed “Mr. 286” at the peak of his career.

Next we have the Bethany Lutheran Church Annual Meeting. That happens once a year. That’s why I added “Annual” in there. This is the meeting where our Church Council, and Cemetery Board reveal all the secret stuff about their respective areas of church activity that they’ve kept secret all year. It’s all the time when new council members are elected. I may have mentioned in previous posts that I’ve served on the council for many years – about 15 I think – and have only been absent for one year. Sadly, that made me eligible to be nominated for another turn at the oars. Like normal, I accepted, as did Nancy, Shawn, and Randy. Nancy has been absent from council for a number of years, but Shawn and Randy have never served. So, we have new blood to spill. Our first meeting is February 15th. Until then I really have nothing worthy to say about this recurring aspect of my life.

I made a trip to the ENT Clinic at Good Sam Hospital in Portland and was quickly referred to the Vestibular Clinic to see what makes Jerrie almost fall down sometimes. Hopefully it’s not a vestibular schwannoma. That would be terrible. I think. I’m curious to find out. I was told the first visit will last 2.5 hours. Part of that time, I suspect, will be helping me off the floor while doing some of those fast turn exercises that led me to this point in the first place. That, and running into an occasional wall. Nothing major, just little mishaps that do not cause severe injury. Just a few nicks and dings that are quickly forgotten.

Then I went to OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) which is located on Pill Hill next to the VA Medical Center and Doernbecher Children’s’ Hospital. Actually, Doernbecher is a OHSU facility. It’s complicated. Here’s what the entire mess looks like from a helicopter.

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If you don’t have a helicopter, you can take the tram that launches from the banks of the Willamette River. The tram looks like fun to me, but Diane won’t ride it.

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Our trip to OHSU was to, once again, participate in an intake process for a Diabetes Study for folks who are taking Metformin and whose A1C is above 6.8. I qualified because I take metformin and my last A1C was 7.4. So, I was looking at getting $10 a visit for the next 4 years. At the appointment I went through all the paperwork with Trish then she took some blood away from me while Brianna watched. Then I was released with the promise of a phone call the next day. Brianna called, as promised, and told me I didn’t qualify for the program because my A1C has mysteriously dropped to 6.2. This happened the last time I was interviewed for this program. So, I was out before I even got started and I had plans for that $10.

With that out of the way, I assisted Diane with some chores at our church to prepare it for their 37th Annual Quilt Show. That’s when all of the pews in the church are draped with elaborate quilts from all over the area as well as some antique quilts that have been in use for many, many years. It’s quit impressive and very beautiful. My job for this effort was to clean up the spots in the carpet where people always drop drips of wine with we have communion via intinction. We tell them to put their hand under the dipped wafer to avoid those drips, but not many listen. Thankfully I had a machine to help me and I’m happy to report that the carpet looks wonderful and will remain that way until we have communion again. The quilt show, in case you’re wondering, will be this coming Friday and Saturday, February 10-11, from 10am to 3pm both days. Downstairs there will be other displays, a bake sale, and sandwiches – egg salad and chicken salad. And pie. Lots of pies. Come and eat. It’s all good and it’s free unless you feel like donating to the jar located on each table. Donating is encouraged.

Another part I did was take photos of the Bethany Quilt Ladies who meet each Thursday morning and generally sit around drinking coffee and visiting, unless someone shows up, then they look busy. I don’t know how they do it, but they still manage to complete about 100 quilts for Lutheran World Relief every year. That’s amazing. This is, Right to Left, Vi, Pat, June, and some lady I’ve never met. Probably should have asked her name, huh? Diane said she is June’s niece.

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One of those days I got another haircut. That’s two I’ve had in the last few weeks. It wasn’t so much that I needed one, but the barber, some of our Grandchildren’s Aunt, came to the house and I just couldn’t resist. Diane got a haircut, too. She looks great with her new do, like always.

Jeran went on a bona fide date last weekend to attend the Winter Ball. It’s mainly for Juniors at school so Lydia, a senior, help organize it. While we were at Diane’s Mom’s, Jean’s, house the group came by for a photo-op. Included was the Prince – not a Princess – which was a first for St. Helens High. A great group of kids on the way to having fun.

Jeran, Danielle, Lydia, Julianna, and Fiona.

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That brings us to yesterday when I escorted my adopted Grandson, Ahmed, to our Lions meeting where he gave an incredible presentation about Pakistan, his home country. He’s really good at it. I call him my Grandson because he calls me Grandpa. It works. He’s living with Dan, Jennie, Lydia, and Jeran while attending St. Helens High School this year as an AFS student. His adopted parents, and sister, also attended the presentation. Jeran stayed home and ate spaghetti.

Another highlite from last week is that Lydia was one of the three students selected as Student of the week at the High School. The other two were boys. She was the best looking one in the crowd.

Sadly, I failed to get photos of Ahmed’s presentation so the day ended in failure but this is what he looked like from the back … on the left …

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… and from the front … on the right …

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The other people in there you already know.

Diane was summoned to the Court House again this morning. She wasn’t there very long before they released her into my custody so now I must regroup and work on being responsible.

Day 15 – JBAB Anacostia

I didn’t do anything today except help Diane with the laundry. By help I mean I just did whatever she told me to do, of course. After that, she went to the exchange all by herself. I stayed in the room and watched a movie and two episodes of Quantico. I just love our Xfinity because we can watch recorded shows on our DVR from anywhere in the world.

A may have had a nap, too.

Later …