Gmmxie Google Doodle and a Happy New Year

Its another weird google doodle.  At least they’re topical. 

Ok in case you saw it and didn’t realize what it meant, in short it’s a Happy New Year wish from Google to the users of the world.

G
MMXI
E

Still don’t get it? 

Ok MMXI Is the Roman Numeral for 2011 –

MM is 2000
X is 10
I is 1

The fireworks will also clue you in especially if you live in South Florida.   We don’t seem to have any “official” firework celebration in Wilton Manors tonight, but all the same you will see plenty.  The neighbors seem to set them off early and well into the night. 

Luckily Mrs Dog’s Selective Deafness means that she won’t be quite as rattled by whistles, screams and booms as she was in the past.  A 10 year old border collie who used to be very aware of what I’d say to her had to be called five times this morning after being allowed to water the St Augustine Grass before the sun came up this morning… not like it used to be.

So a Happy New Year to all of you.  I’m saying good riddance to 2010, watering the grass legally both by well water and by dog, and will be enjoying the fireworks.

After all what guy doesn’t like a good loud BOOMing fireworks display?

Once we’ve had enough of that, there’s also the “flash mob” at the bars on Wilton Drive.

There will be a New Years Celebration at the Shoppes of Wilton Manors tonight.  The City Commission and the Mayor seem to think that they may be able to stop festivals by ignoring them, but when thousands of people have decided you are having a party, you are having a party.  I’m not quite sure what it will be but there were posters up about Times Square on the Drive with New York vendors and a large screen TV to broadcast the Ball Drop at Midnight. 

My house being so close means I’m going to enjoy the party and maybe you will be there… say hi if you see me…

How Did You Celebrate Good Riddance Day?

On December 28, 2010, in Times Square, New York City, People were able to celebrate Good Riddance Day.

Good riddance day is a day where you were to gather up your old mementos and take them down to the big shredder truck and have them mulched into oblivion.   Nothing like a little bit of revisionist history to salve the soul, right?

It’s not a bad idea.  Cintas was there with a big truck that you could dump old pictures and have them shredded as well as old love letters and other paper objects.  The idea is that you put all those bad old memories into the box and they come out ready to be recycled. 

I remember seeing this sort of thing in a sitcom years ago.  The female lead had just broken up with the boyfriend and instead of cutting his face out of all of the pictures, or using wite-out to blot him out, she gathered up all of the bits and pieces like pictures and letters as well as a teddybear or two and put them into a trash can.  If I remember the story right, she set the can in the middle of the room, tossed in a match and of course the fire got out of control.

This being a sitcom, the woman hooked up with the fireman who came to put out the fire.

Repeat after me… Awwww how cute.

That moment of “squee” aside, its not a terrible idea if it helps you to move on to purge the physical echos of a bad memory.  While you’re at it, it is also a good idea to grab those old bank receipts from the 1900s and shred those.  Anything older than 8 years is of questionable worth anyway other than Deeds or Titles.  You certainly don’t want to shred your mortgage paperwork until the debt has been cleared, but the Charge bills from your trip to the Beach back in 2001 is not really needed.

I just had this mental thought of hundreds of jilted New York women standing in line with big boxes of papers commiserating over their old relationships and vowing to start fresh in 2011.

Like many people, I’ve said good riddance to the last few years.  Between world politics, local politics, and other disappointments, things in general have gone with the economy on the broad view.  That is to say, not very well. 

But hopefully we can all just say Good Riddance to it all and 2011 will be the beginning of the next great boom in the economy.  

Sure, and we’ll finally be able to come up with a fair progressive tax policy in the US and the world will be full of butterflies and teddybears.

Ok, the butterflies are plentiful in this part of the world at least.   Just yesterday I was out inspecting the flowers and saw another Monarch Caterpillar on the Mexican Milkweed and …

Going away? Don’t be obvious online!

Since Facebook has become the fad of the decade, the CB Radio of the new Millennium, everyone has jumped on here.   I’ve been fortunate to be able to keep in contact with my family up North, and my friends here in town, as well as those who have moved away.

Social Media is a great way to stay in touch and let those who you care about be involved with your daily life and life’s milestones.

There is a problem with that.  Some folks aren’t quite so honest.

There is a trend with criminals to watch Facebook, MySpace, Tagged and many other social media for those who are and who will be out of town.  Once you say “Hey, I’m going on Vacation”, you may as well put up a sign on the front door saying “Out of town, Help Yourself!”.

Lately there have been a spate of robberies of homes by people saying that they’ve taken the dream vacation.  The vacation was wonderful, we all were entertained with your pictures, but when you got home, we also shared in your loss of your household items.

Being a bit of a security nut, I do not respond to party announcements online openly.   E-Invites are a great way to send out invitations to a lot of your friends, however they fall into the same bucket.  When 150 people know that you are out of the house from 7pm to Midnight for the New Years Party, someone in that list may be considering that the invitation to your new 46 inch flat screen may be just a bit too tempting.

Ok, maybe I am a bit too careful, but these stories are hitting the press a bit too frequently.  Today, there was a write up in the BBC about this happening in the UK.  I have read about this in the local papers in the US as well. 

Unfortunately you can only see the story in the BBC if you are in the UK or have a proxy pointing you there, but here is the link anyway.

Modern life is complex enough, hopefully it won’t get any worse by your coming back from vacation and finding your keepsakes gone. 

The New Jeep Egret

Generally I don’t like things on my car.  This particular critter I could not bring myself to evict.

I saw out of the corner of my eye a bright white flash.  The weather has been cold, but brilliantly clear.  Looking over at the Jeep that graces my driveway I saw this particular character sunning itself on the soft top.

Having two different emotions I did the right thing, I grabbed the camera. 

The Jeep is an older one, 9 model years old, and for the most part it sits under cover.  The threads that hold the tan vinyl top together are aging and on the stress points, some of them have popped.  The rain won’t get in the car and even if it did, it won’t be the first time.  Mostly, Jeeps are built to be water resistant.  Where a “Normal” car would short out in a rain storm with open windows, I’ve driven mine through a thunderstorm being saturated with the roof down.  There were no bridges to hide under on that particular day after all.

There are no clouds today, or when I took this picture.  The egret visited the roof of my Jeep today, and yesterday.  Since it was a little warmer today, it decided that the front yard would be a better resting place, so it stayed under the tree in the front of the yard.

Some Florida homes have plastic pink flamingos.  I have a white snowy egret that visits me in front.  The back yard has its Bougainvilleas. In that back yard plant, the rock doves shelter there watch me with their beady little eyes screaming “MEH! MEH!”.  I prefer the Egret.  They’re silent and merely look regal instead of stupidly judging you with a MEH as they fly off.

When the Dog tells you It’s Too Cold

39 Degrees is cold in anybody’s book.   Or rather it should be.  If you paid attention in Science Class, you will remember that 39 Degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature that water is the densest.  If it gets warmer, it expands.  If it gets colder it expands then freezes. 

It was colder outside today than it was in my refrigerator.

It was so cold that the dog told me so.

We have lived here for more than four years.  Mrs Dog knows the neighborhood well and we have a route that we walk three times a day most days.  It gives her the mental stimulation she needs to be… well not mental.  Border Collies need that or else they chew up the house, bark incessantly, or just generally become a nuisance.  She enjoys walking past the bars and being told that she’s beautiful because she is.  She enjoys hearing about this person’s dog up in Ohio that they miss because they had to leave it with the maiden aunt down the road.

I could walk the route behind her without a leash and she wouldn’t mind.  I wouldn’t do that because she’s losing her hearing and becoming selectively deaf but that’s beside the point.  The point is that she knows this particular part of Florida very well.  There’s a point in the walk she will tug to tell me that she wants to go for the Long Walk and I’m trying to turn because it’s 6:30 in the morning and I haven’t had breakfast and want to go home.

You see, that is the point.  She likes to be out.  This seems to have changed with the cold snap that we’ve finally gotten.  South Florida was warned to duck and cover and this would be a cold one.  There were Hard Freeze Warnings for every single county in Florida the other day.  That includes Mainland Monroe county – which also contains the Keys.  They were excluded, but the mainland wasn’t. 

I don’t know if it really did get to freeze in Mainland Monroe County, but our thin blood thought so. 

Once we were out in our Winter Survival Gear, we realized that the 30 degrees of Cold Tolerance that we lost since moving here was evident.   Add to the 39 Degree “chill” a 12 MPH constant wind and gusts that took things above 20 MPH and you get the picture.  I was walking and talking to Lettie and telling her that she was better suited to the weather than I am because she had a fur coat but there are parts that had to be freezing and exposed.

That was when I was surprised by her insight.  I got to the end of the shopping center near the house and she turned behind it and headed home.  Directly.  This dog who loves a long walk more than anything else it seems, had had enough of her “lady parts” being frozen off and turned home.   I hadn’t realized until then that she was slowing down rapidly and it all became evident.  This is the same dog who in a 7 Degree Above Zero Blizzard in Philadelphia would walk behind me in my lee in order to stay out of the wind.  She’s not a “Dumb Animal” at all.

The minute that Mrs Dog got home, she curled up on the mat as tight as she could and conserved as much warmth as possible.  

So when your dog tells you that it is too cold outside there really is only one thing you can do.  Listen!

Palms Swaying Backwards

Yes, they really can sway backwards, but it depends on just how you define “backwards”.

In this case, the palms are a symptom of a weather front.  Up North from Boston to North Carolina, they’ve gotten significant snowfalls.  There are road closures all over the place, it’s generally a great day to stay home all along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Here, the result is that as the front came through over night, the temperatures held steady until the morning.  We had some light showers, or rather showers that weren’t heavy enough to wake me or the dog.  The roads were covered with a sheen of rain water, and my car that I carefully washed the day before now has water drops on it. 

That’s what I get for leaving it out of the Car Port to serve as a Tourist Block for my driveway on a Bar Night.

It is windy now, and quite grey.  Most of the homes around here of this vintage have jalousie windows.  Get too close to one on a windy day and you’ll learn why they get replaced.  I was standing in my laundry looking for some items next to the door and I felt the breezes coming in from outside.  Those windows are not very efficient at keeping the weather out, but in an area where power outages happen frequently and the majority of the time you’re trying to keep the box of rocks cooler than outside rather than warmer, they’re frightfully practical.

Instead of sitting on a beach, in the sun, watching the palms overhead, from a hammock, I’m indoors on a big green chair looking at a patch of areca palms that are leaning toward me rather than away in the breezes.

It could be worse.  I could be trapped in a hotel in Dumfries, VA near Washington, DC.  It is a long way to drive in weather like they got up there and while it is only 3-5 inches of snow that was predicted.  That was yesterday and now the total accumulation predicted to be around 9 inches in DC.   If you extend your travels south to Raleigh NC, they’re predicting up to 8 inches. 

I’ve driven in bad weather down I-95 before, a number of times.  It was always a bad choice.  One car hitting the snow will compact it more and more until you get a corrugated washboarded road bed full of ice and treachery.

To get below the Snow, you have to travel to South Carolina and then you find Ice.

So palms swaying backwards are not so bad.  It will be back to normal for the New Years Weekend.  If you’re already here on vacation, enjoy.  Just don’t laugh too hard at us Floridians.  Our blood has thinned to water.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Shopping Day

Now that you’ve opened your new shiny toys what are you going to do with them?

Many people will have gotten things that can be upgraded.  Computers mainly, but there are other items you might need like cables and so forth that you are considering.   Having just gone through that with my neighbors, Mother and Son both getting each other PCs for the holidays, I was asked by both what they may need to use it “better”.

The answer is another question – how exactly do you intend to use the thing.  Almost all PCs out of the box are set up with a lot of crapware, trial software and annoyances that once you remove them they go faster.  The exception seems to be the Thinkpad from Lenovo and the Dell Business PCs.  Luckily one of those machines across the street is a Dell Business, the other was a Dell Home.  The difference was night and day.

If you are going to use it to Surf the Web, do Emails, get onto a site like Facebook or any of the other social networking sites, some word processing and spreadsheets, maybe get your finances done, Stop Here.  You’re probably good to go with that new shiny computer as it was out of the box.   Maybe stop into a big box store and get some of those memory sticks so you can store your documents and save the money.  Take your family out to dinner with the savings and enjoy your new PC.

But if you’ve decided that you’re going to upgrade that new shiny little PC then today and tomorrow especially and through until the new year will be good times to shop.  You just have to remember to look online and look aggressively.  Don’t go to the first big box store’s website and pull out the credit card.  One And Done online means you’re probably spending more than you should.

I was looking at the online shopping sites and there are a lot of liquidation sales going on, and thought about upgrading one of my PCs since it is the one I use for graphics production.  The memory I need is now $29 a stick for 2GB sticks so for $60 I could have 4GB of memory to wallow around in.  Great, I know that Windows 7 64 Bit will work with that memory and help my video editing and graphics production go faster. 

How do you know if your computer will accept that much memory even at a “liquidation price”?

On Windows, click start and find the “run” box.   Type in the run box “winver” and hit enter.  It will come up and tell you what your machine is running, and may give you more information.  If it says 64 Bit anywhere, you can install as much as your machine will accept – and by now you realize that you will have to find out from your manufacturer by digging into their support sites whether the machine will handle what you intend to upgrade to.  Go ahead and search… you’ll need to know.

If you did look and found out you can put in 4GB or 8GB then you may be able to upgrade safely. 

If you have 32 bit windows – it doesn’t say 64 bit anywhere in that little windows, you are limited to accessing 3GB of memory.  Don’t go past it because you’re wasting  your money.

There are a couple of other “don’t bother” things to worry about. 

If your new PC is a Netbook it will be very difficult physically to upgrade.  Some of the older ones even had the only memory stick it had soldered to the machine.  Research this and find out whether it is worth the effort.  Netbooks are notorious for being very flimsy – you may get that machine open and never get it working again.  A Netbook simply is not a Thinkpad, they are built for the absolute bottom rung of the market to be sold at a cheap price.  They’re the feeder fish of the PC Aquarium.  Great for note taking but don’t expect to even use the thing for watching HD Video online.

If you see “Windows 7 Starter Edition” when you started the machine up or looked in winver – don’t go above 2GB of memory since it won’t address it.  Spend your money on an upgrade to Windows 7 Home or Windows 7 Professional if you’re going to use it on a work network with a domain.  Windows 7 has the “Windows Anytime Upgrade” wizard that will do it all automatically, then once your machine is upgraded to a “real” version of Windows, you can fully decide if you want to go with more memory.  Keep in mind, your machine will run Windows 7 Professional slowly if you only have 1GB of memory.  I have a 3 year old Thinkpad that is running Windows 7 Pro with 2GB and it is acceptable and that machine’s hardware is still being sold new.

Now that you have negotiated all the Gotcha’s where do you find the sales?

I started looking at www.dealnews.com and www.techbargains.com and found that www.geeks.com is running a sale as well as www.frys.com and www.microcenter.com which is a good start. 

Dealnews and Techbargains are a good start since they go out and find all those discounts for you and cut some of the work out.  They are those aggregator sites that I was talking about.  They also make sure that the vendors that they are listing are valid and will show you discount codes that may get you free shipping or another discount on top.

Once you order, and the piece arrives, then the fun begins.  If this is all over your head, find yourself a 15 year old kid that will do it for you or throw some money at your neighborhood PC shop.  It may be worthwhile to have someone else do the research for you and just pull the parts out of their parts drawer instead of doing it yourself. 

For the most part, I’ve had good luck finding on places like www.youtube.com instructional videos of how to pull apart machines, upgrade them, and do all sorts of repairs.  If you can find an appropriate video, it will be worth your viewing time.

There you go!  Are you confused yet?  Good and good luck!