Saturday, February 21, 2015

West Texas wind8

Yesterday was a springlike, warm day, with blue sky, wispy clouds, and breezes from the southwest.
Today is a fall-like day, breezes from the north pooling cold air into the region and grey clouds piling up in the sky. The temperature Friday was 82 degrees F. Today it was about 68 F. Tonight, forecasters predict the temps will fall into the 20s and will barely climb above 30 tomorrow. Freezing rain, snow and sleet are on the menu for Sunday and Monday morning, so it's a typical West Texas weather pattern, which is to say, predictably unpredictable with a likely chance of anything possible.
My bronchitis is finally letting go of my head and lungs, and I'm less dizzy from air deprivation.
My energy level is higher than it's been in two weeks, though it's still low. Amazing how an invisible "bug" can knock the lead out of a man's pencil and leave him gasping for air, struggling to stay awake, and fighting lethargy every hour.
Worst case of bronchitis I've ever had, and that's saying something since I've had more than a few cases in my 63 years.
Still, it's good be alive.
I like the feeling of electricity flowing through my brain, down my spine and into my body. I like the sensations of warmth, cold, aches and pains, and vitality - all in their turn - that rise in my body and consciousness.
Debra too has been sick, and sad because the illness denied her the company of her grandson, River, who only just entered the circus of life in December, less than two months ago.
He's a hoot!
Amazing to watch a newborn begin to explore the senses - vision, smell, taste, pressure from gravity, body warmth, hunger, satisfaction, and contentment.
River seems to enjoy contentment most of all, and I enjoy watching his expressions change with every new awareness, however flitting or brief, that his body and mind reveal to him.
I try to recall what it was like to be two months old and helplessly dependent on the big beings around me, who seemed to want to pick me up, hold me, and coo and softly sing, but that memory is buried out of reach of my consciousness. So I pretend to understand what River is experiencing, and I find life full of wonder and fun - without having to try to imagine.
I hope it snows tomorrow. I hope it snows and sleets and piles high in the streets and surrounding lawns and parks, and I hope it all freezes on Monday. I hope another layer of snow falls on the frozen sheet of packed ice (I imagine) that settled from Sunday's precipitation.
Then, perhaps, my phone will ring at 6 a.m. Monday, and a computer-generated message will inform  me that the university offices will be closed due to inclement weather.
It's been a long time since we've had a "snow day" off from work, and Monday would be a perfect day for that to happen again.
As time passes, I find myself enjoying life the same way I once did when the world was a giant mystery to me, and all things were new and magical, and the potential for miracles was ever blooming in my dreams.
I suppose it's a function of aging to begin to find value in moments of inconsequential perceptions. Mortality grows with the passing time, or I should say, the thought of being mortal and  moving closer to death as time slips away is a recurrent theme for me lately. It's not that I fear dying, it's just that death, and the idea of dying, seems to be an omnipresent soft voice that sings to me when my guard is down.
But many wonders remain to be seen, and I intend to see them all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

HP Printer subscription service SUCKS!

You should be able to discern by the title of this post that it's a RANT about Hewlett-Packard's so-called printer support service, a subscription package (they have several: the one to which I refer is the FamilyFriendly 1-year plan) that claims to provide technical support for HP PRINTER issues.
Now, my particular "issue" was that my HP ENVY 5530 wireless printer (it's actually one of the e-series of all-in-one printer/scanner/copier machines) dropped its Internet connection every  time I shut it off.
Meaning each time I wanted to print, I had to enter the router passphrase and ID, and even then it only worked about one-third of the time - frustrating, to say the least
Visiting the HP Website, I saw that a tech support service was available, with subscription packages running from $14.99 per month up to about $50 per month. The service claimed to provide professional tech support 24/7 and, figuring I had no luck trying to figure out the problem myself, I'd pay for the least expensive subscription and finally get the printer to function properly.
Bad move!
Fact is, HP is just another money-grubbing, lying, conniving, thieving outfit, much like any street-corner hustler palming marbles from under Dixie cups to rip off the rubes.
I paid the $14.99, OK'ed the early cancellation fee of $70 (I think they KNOW that most will cancel, since the service is non-existent) and expectantly called the tech support department, thinking I'd have a functioning printer in 10 or 15 minutes.
Well, 2 hours later, the technician - via "online chat" - suggested that I buy a new printer that was compatible with my iMac, since he couldn't figure out how to make the HP ENVY 5530 e series work.
I called HP back to argue that I should be allowed to cancel the subscription without penalty since my first (and only) service call ended in nothing but a headache and NO SOLUTiON.
Now remember, it's a Hewlett-Packard printer, yet the HP techs had no idea what they were doing. They hadn't the least clue about how to get the damned thing to synch with my iMac.
So the second phone call found me talking to an "Apple Department" technician (Netta), who tried for another hour to get the printer to recognize the iMac.
All indicators suggested that the printer was connected to the Internet, had a strong wireless signal, and was ready to go; but that was not the case.
By the time Netta ran out of ideas, it was nearly 8:30 p.m. (this debacle began at 4:30 p.m.) and I had about exhausted my patience.
Deftly passing the buck, Netta told me to call my Internet service provider and ask them to configure the printer using a list of specs she emailed me.
Of course, my service provider rep told me that they could not resolve third-party issues, thereby leaving me high and dry and at the same point in this sad tale as where I began; no working printer. Although all diagnostic applications showed that the printer was fine and worked perfectly, it did NOT.
So now I await a call back from an HP supervisor/manager who, I'm sure, will apologize profusely for the failure to provide the service I paid for, but who will, nonetheless, inform me that I must pay the $100-plus fee for "non-service" per the subscription contract.
Interesting that one cannot simply be transferred to speak to an HP supervisor/manager. The HP way requires a subscriber to request a call back, and a supervisor/manager will call within 10 business days. Odd, to my experience. But live and learn.
The lesson of this tale:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ghosts of Iraqi freedom haunt me

I can't say that the violence and bloodshed in Iraq today is a surprise to me, so I presume that many, many of the people who participated in the political maneuvers of 2007-2008, when madness reigned in Iraq, are also NOT surprised in the least.
I wonder what Gen. Petraeus thinks today of the enormous payments to the Son's of Iraq fighters for their pledge to not kill American troops or Iraqi citizens, as well as the nearly $400 million payoff to Muqtada al Sadr and his Sunni Mahdi warriors to stop fueling the fire of civil war in Iraq?
Does anyone believe that al Sadr didn't plow that cash into new weaponry for his army, or that the Sons and their minions didn't use American $100 bills to strengthen their armory?
The very people the general paid off are the people - along with other angry young men from the region - who  now are attacking the Iraqi government. The same government that we (the U.S.) hastily installed in 2008, with little regard to the competence, capabilities, or honor of the "leaders" we selected, particularly Prime Minister al-Maliki, (president, king, or whatever he imagines himself to be today).
The history of our incursion into that nation is yet to be written with any finality, and I fear that the last chapters will not be kind to American memories of sacrifice, not to mention American political prowess and power.
The ominous move this week that President Obama was compelled to make - sending in military "advisers" - may foreshadow a new and bloodier intervention in that dusty, hot, hard-pressed nation. I truly hope not.
Have pity on the Iraqi people who are, sadly, batted back and forth between sectarian bullies and U.S. policymakers who, for the moment, seems to be driven by national pride rather than reasoned, strategic thinking, guided toward stabilizing Iraq.
So much treasure spent by our nation in that Middle Eastern hell. And the longed-for Iraqi peace, prosperity, and democratic government is still only a wisp of smoke in the wind.
I am grateful today to NOT be in Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Ukraine, and dozens of other badly mauled countries where people live under the constant threat of pointless death for the sake of political (or religious) aims.
Thank you, God. Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Better to lie than to love

Sometimes it's better to live alone than love.
Sometimes it's better to lie than to love.
Sometimes it's better to love than to die.
Sometimes it's better to die than to love, or even lie.
And sometimes it's better to love than to live, lie, or even try.
A year has passed since  I last placed an entry into this blog, and it's been a long, cold year gone!
Living alone can grow dark and heavy in the heart.
But sometimes it's better to live alone than love.
Outside is the Texas night and the Texas sky, and the hard, dry ground that sails on the wind
and lands in my eyes.
Noses clog shut, and airways gasp dust, and hair flounces trails of particles from fields across the county.
Sometimes song is all I have to express what my heart feels, and sometimes song is sad.
But even sad song can be uplifting, as you well know, so I just let it be, though the tears press hard on my mind until I let them go.
D is a wonder who struggles with her desire to die. A wonder because she always hugs her soul around her and hold tight to life, and finds another sunset in her eyes.
Life and living it can be painful and hard, and often not worth a damn!
But it's not for me to decide, and it's not for you to decide, and it's not for some judge, or priest, or minister or shaman to decide.
I find it's enough to accept the gift of breath and sight, and touch and sound, and let the whole thing ride.
Is God real? Is God aware of my little life, and my little dreams, and my little hurts that seem so selfish when viewed in comparison to so many other suffering people in this world?
Sleep is becoming a stranger to me, and I miss sleep's calming presence in my life.
My eyes are open more than they are closed, far more than they are closed, and my mind keeps churning out ribbons of visions and tales that dance in the shadows of the firelight.
So I'll be back again - maybe in a year or two. We'll see.
Sometimes it's better to listen than speak.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blizzard! Really?

Now here's something one doesn't typically see in the local weather forecast: "blizzard" intoned in serious tone and aspect by local forecasters. The following is derived from the NWS Web site.

Issued by The National Weather Service
Lubbock, TX

Sun, Feb 24, 2013, 11:00 PM CST

Local Radar Map

Updated Feb 25, 2013, 12:05am CST

Lubbock is not known for deep snowfalls or, for that matter, winter storm warnings. In the 18 years I've lived here, I can count on one hand the number of times we've had memorable snowfall events - precisely 2.
And both of those storms were 1-day affairs; a quick dumping of 6-to-13 inches of snow, then a rapid return of sunlight that melted the snow within a couple of hours, leaving the roads nearly dry and free of the white blanket before sunset.
So believe me when I tell you that for Lubbockites to hear the word "blizzard" in their weather forecast is reason for consternation, nervous jokes, apprehensive musings and, of course, high hopes for every grammar school kid in the city.
I'm beginning to understand the reason that South Plains folk spent long hours discussing weather back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. It was the uniting influence for every soul who has dwelled on the empty, wind-swept lands.
Plus, the economic engine that still drives the region is cotton and other types of agriculture, so weather is a determining factor for family life, in practical and esoteric terms.
Outside, pebbles of frozen precipitation are coating the ground and streets at the moment.I wonder if actual snow will tumble from the heavens?
Like most men/boys, I dream of dancing and falling freely into deep piles of soft, fluffy snow - though it's highly unlikely that we'll get that kind of precipitation. More likely we'll be coated in ice and freezing rain, as is typical of the region, particularly of late.
Monday is upon me, and work looms large even as the clock ticks toward 2 a.m. I've learned to get by on four hours or less of sleep, though some days are better than others when it comes to attentiveness and focus.
I count my blessings if I'm able to get to sleep by 4 a.m., but whether I do or don't, the alarm goes off at 7 a.m., regardless.
If we do, in fact, experience a blizzard with 6-inch snowfall, I expect (read, "hope") that the university and, thus, my department, will halt activity today in the name of safety, which will be a welcome respite from what I anticipate will be a thoroughly unpleasant Monday - for reasons that shall remain confidential here.
So "come on winter storm. Show me what you've got! Please, let's see some 'real' snow blanket the South Plains, along with blizzard conditions, and even dangerously cold wind chill levels!"
Thus and so, goodnight.

Friday, February 22, 2013

GOP hitched its wagon to a falling star

If one thing is true in this world, it's that the chickens come home to roost. Another simple truth is, you reap what you sow, and it appears that the Grand Old Republican Party is reaping its just rewards for being two-faced, shallow, simplistic, overly impulsive, and phony. In short, the GOP is in disarray because it hitched its wagon, its hopes for future election wins, to a group of WASPs who want to turn back the clock and pretend it's 1950. 
The so-called Conservative Party is at odds with the grassroots Tea Party because, in fact, the Tea Party is living in a fantasy world where Jesus is king, government is soiled linen, and bootstrap mentality - in both inferences, the whip your behind meaning and the "pull-up by" meaning - is noxious to the majority of Americans who have IQs above 65.
So now, having dropped their drawers for this minority grassroots bunch of fantasists who want to tear down the wall between church and state and institute the same religiously-associated government enjoyed so much by our bretheren in the Middle East - ever heard of Sharia (sp?) law - so now the GOP is trying to quietly slink out the back window while the Tea Party makes breakfast.
Sorry folks. When you join a group for any reason other than genuine, you're bound to get things out of joint and twisted. The Republican Party is not the Tea Party, nor was it ever (I don't know where the chant "We want our country back" came from, but I've often wondered, "What country is that?"
I live in America, where an egalitarian republic is the reigning form of government, and where democracy dictates that majority rules, but the minority has a voice. Amen.
The GOP lost track of the majority will, and has gone so far down that foggy Tea Party road that it's hard-pressed to regain a footing in political reality, not to mention everyday reality for most of us. 
C'est la vie!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stumbling past Armageddon ...

Well, Dec. 21 came and went, as uneventful a day as I've seen in 62 years.
So the doomsayers proved themselves wrong again, true to the rich history of multiple inaccurate prophecies predicting the "end of the world."
C'est la vie." heheheheheh.
Thus, the more mundane issues that our nation faces move the front of the line, per usual, and we citizens of America have our front row seats to the Bull@*$! Bowl that our Congress has become.
Our politicians (we Americans), are being foolish, short-sighted and reckless with our middle-class to poor lives, and we should not tolerate any more of the nonsense they shovel under the guise of political representation, any more than we tolerate a manufacturer of (put any product here) who brags, "ours is the best by far," or "we make a perfectly safe product."
Specious, empty-headed lies are the currency that U.S. politicians trade like baseball cards. And the result is, the economy tanks, the people wind up homeless and hungry and half crazed, and our future grows dimmer by the hour.
It seems to me that it's upside-down and has been for the past two decades.Republicans and Democrats chase political power for its own sake, while ignoring real problems that require a political solution.
If the crew in D.C. can't come up with a compromise bill to forestall or even eliminate the "fiscal cliff" scenario, then they all should be fired immediately!!!
The only problem is, the party bosses want to make hay at the expense of the other party, and the members (the elected members) dance to the tune of the bureaucrats who run the party machines.
We cannot allow the bickering between our two major parties to put our government into free fall, or to sideline the business of the people for the foreseeable future because of an ideological dogma that has nothing to do with reality.
Reality - people are hungry, people are homeless, people are struggling to make ends meet, and all the while, the ultra rich get a pass on everything - from taxes to murder.
Why not increase the federal tax on the ultra-rich by a few percentage points (they CAN afford it) if it will strengthen our government? It most certainly will NOT damage our fiscal bottom line.
The GOP likes to forget that the only reason it exists is to do participate in our political system (governmental agencies) and, when elected, to conduct the business of the people, NOT to line the pockets of wealthy constituents in the name of cronyism, payback or favoritism. It's wrong, it's immoral and it's a false argument that deserves an energetic kick in the the butt.