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Still Waiting

So, apparently, I do not have the plague. I changed my contact information with the folks doing the testing so the notification would come to the email account I have on my phone. Started checking it late last night, because I had been told by someone who had the test a couple of days ago that the turnaround time on results was getting down to 12 hours or so. Anyway, I started checking. Nothing. I got up this morning. Still nothing. On a whim, I logged on to my computer to check the email I had previously given them.

Sure enough, even though my contact information clearly lists my new email address, the notification was sent to my old email address. I guess I shouldn’t complain. I figured it out in less than 24 hours.

So now we are waiting for a locksmith. The Head Rat and I have torn the place apart over the last 2 days looking for my truck keys. When you start looking in the freezer and the cat box you are basically out of ideas. Hence the call to the locksmith.

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Waiting for the local health folks to notify me of the results of my test for the Plague. Again. Third time I’ve done this. Annoying, but it could be worse.


Perhaps I’ve been on the Road too much of late

That thought occurred to me a few days ago when I stopped at a truck stop in Pratt, Kansas for a bathroom break only to find that someone was occupying my favorite stall in my favorite truck stop bathroom.

I’m not sure what to do with the realization that I have a favorite truck stop bathroom‡.  Or that I have a favorite stall in my favorite truck stop bathroom

Well, I guess that’s an indication that my life kind of sucks at the moment.  Be that as it may, at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that I have not sunk to the point of having a favorite golfer.

‡Get your mind out of the gutter; I like it because it is consistently the cleanest of all the places I have taken bathroom breaks and not once has it been out of toilet paper.

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Security Theater

Several years ago there  was a book called “Politically Correct Fairy Tales”.  I don’t remember the author, but I do remember it was funny because it was so outrageous.  I suspect it wouldn’t be funny anymore; more of an HR department policy manual.  One of the things I remember from the book was the phrase (used in place of the word “beggar”) “unencumbered by the confines of regular employment.”  I only mention that, as it seems to be the most apt description of my current situation.  Anyway one of the things I do part-time is Professional Urine Collection. Yup, that’s me: the traveling pee collector.

Actually, it isn’t that bad.  I was collecting UA’s as far back as 1980 in Corrections.  No big deal.  And I get to drive pretty much all over the southwestern half of Kansas.  There are times, however, that it just isn’t worth the hassle.

We have the contract to do random testing on our city employees, so this morning I was down at city hall to collect a sample.  Now I’ve been down there in the middle of the night to do post-accident collections.  Piece of cake.  The cops let me in, I do my job, and we all get on with our lives.

Not how it works in the daytime.  They refused to let me in because I had two small pairs of scissors in my bag.  After I went back to the parking lot and dropped off my lethal weapons, I did the whole metal detector, run your bag through the x-ray machine, etc. and they finally let me in.  Now inside the bag they scanned were 8 clear plastic bags, each containing two vials of human urine (from my first job this morning).  At least that’s what I told them was in the vials.  They didn’t inspect the bags or look at the vials or anything.  And I’m thinking, “You won’t let my scissors in but you don’t even bat an eye at 8 packages of what could conceivably be a binary explosive.”  So I go to the offices and find the cop I’m supposed to be testing, who it turns out is a member of the bomb squad.  I saw him looking in my open bag while I was digging out my supplies, and he was just shaking his head.

To add insult to injury, I had to pay for parking.  The idiot in the parking attendant booth looked like a LARPer-wannabe.  And he was sporting THE worst fake upper-class British accent I’ve ever heard.  Just seemed to be the icing on the cake.

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Stuff that you (should) want to read

Or: Stuff that you want to read if you’re not one of those Deplorables we right-thinking elite types keep hearing about.

Let me preface this by saying that this started out as a much, much longer post in which I ranted about the “Green/Socialist” mindset, Hollywood environmental and SJW preaching (aka “movies”), the arrogance of the free software Powers That Be, and half a dozen other items that seemed to fit naturally into the broader topic. When I started doing the extra background, I realized how long it was going to take me, and frankly, realized it would never (probably) get done. So.

Mozilla’s Firefox now has (and I’m going to be generous here) a feature called Pocket.  Instead of just leaving an article you want to read open in a tab in your browser or bookmarking it, you can save it  to your Pocket account so you can get it whenever you want it across all your formats (phone, ipad, etc.).  Pocket’s marketing department makes it sound really cool and really convenient.  (Which I guess it is, although I can achieve the same end by simply bookmarking something, and I don’t have to have an account.)

Also from Pocket are their recommendations.  Or, as they say: “The most interesting stories on the web, selected based on what you read. From Pocket, now part of Mozilla.”  Except, as you learn if you follow the “how it works” link, only some users are included in the personalized selections test, the rest get the selections that Pocket thinks are the most interesting.  And guess which end of the political spectrum all of the “most interesting” stories come from?  (By the way, if you guessed anything other than “left”, you are an idiot.)

In fairness, the tech and hard science stories are often pretty decent, if relatively rare.

The rest pretty much seem to be “small-market, local TV, feature-piece quality” crap (which I have to assume is what’s being taught in Journalism school since the links often lead to “respectable” publications like the NYTimes).  Of course, it is possible that it’s just a coincidence that the few articles I have read are the only ones that are part heart-wrenching anecdote, part tangentially-related statistics, some even more tangential (but apparently obligatory) SJW talking points (why else would you neglect to mention cause of death in an article about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s suicides‡ while slipping in the “need” for gun control), and, of course, the obligatory part where you call for more of someone else’s money to be spent fixing the problem.  Yes, it is possible it’s just a coincidence…

For what it’s worth, Mozilla does allow you to hide or remove the Pocket recommendations section.

Also for what it’s worth, I’m switching to Brave.  Until they turn the browser into something other than a really fast browser that blocks ads and trackers…

‡They both hanged themselves, in case you didn’t know. Bourdain used the belt from his hotel bathrobe.  I’m waiting for the Brits to propose “belt control” soon.

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Sometimes I have to remind myself…

via Aesop

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QOTD: got one edition

Also from the local Vet:

The 5 second rule doesn’t apply if you have a 2 second dog

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QOTD: I love my dog edition

Seen on the sign at the Vet a few blocks from the Ratlands homestead:

If cats could text you back, they wouldn’t.

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I would not currently be opposed to the entire Windows 10 development team dying slow, lingering, painful deaths while being restricted to internet access on a 14.4k modem


I am not a huge Microsoft fan. The corporate arrogance has annoyed me from the days when we upgraded from Windows 3.1.  I’ve always had a thing about being able to tweak things to suit my needs and preferences.  Microsoft has, with each new version, made it progressively harder, first to simply tweak things and now, to have any semblance of control over basic functions.  I’ve tinkered with Linux going back to a fairly early version of Mandrake, a version of Memphis Linux, and various releases of Ubuntu.  Most of what I do on a computer can be done quite easily on any Linux box, and the things that aren’t so easy are still doable.  But, I’ve had to keep at least one Windows machine because while I may be OK with Linux, the people that pay me to do stuff on and to their computers run Windows.

That said, I am absolutely furious with Microsoft at the moment. The latest Windows 10 update broke not one, but both of my (formerly) functioning computers.

Now, by way of parenthetical statement, it is possible (not likely, given the sheer gork level involved) that if I had not screwed up my external hard drive containing my full back-ups, some of this might have been rectifiable.  Be that as it may, there are a dozen things I should have been able to do to fix my issues that aren’t available due to the sheer arrogance of Microsoft.

A few days ago I got the notice that Windows was going to update my laptop and it would need to restart my computer.  No option to cancel the update.  Just a chance to postpone it for a few hours or schedule it for a later time.  I didn’t pay too much attention to it.  In fairness to Microsoft, I haven’t had any real trouble with the auto-updates for quite some time.  I postponed the update several times, then eventually let it happen.  I should have realized I was screwed when I kept seeing the words “leave everything to us” (or something similar, I don’t remember exactly, now).  After all the reboots, the computer started up and moved to the log-in screen, just like always.  I typed in my password and Windows opened up to a completely black desktop with no icons other than the trash can in the upper corner.  None of my shortcuts remained on the taskbar, and clicking on the little Window icon in the corner (formerly the Start button) got absolutely no response.  Nothing worked.  No programs or apps were available (since the Window icon didn’t work).

I tried every trick I could think of.  In the process I discovered:

  • no command line access, so I couldn’t try a variety of possible options from the command line
  • all of my restore points were erased (or possibly moved, but I couldn’t check that out with no access to the file system)
  • the desktop profile was erased (or moved)
  • a significant number of drivers were gone

On the upside, I still had touchscreen functionality.  Of course, that’s of limited value when there’s nothing to touch.

I tried every combination and possible option of Restore, Rollback, and Repair that was available, and frankly a few rounds of rebooting just for the hell of it, on the off chance that it might actually work “this time”.  The only option I didn’t try was reloading a backup (see comment above about my screwed up external hard drive).  As near as I can tell, my only option to have a functioning Windows computer is to do a clean re-install of Windows 10 from scratch, which I can’t do, as the computer came with Windows pre-installed so there’s no Windows OS disk (and it doesn’t have a DVD drive anyway) and my system image was on my external hard drive (see comment about screwed up external hard drive).

Oh, there’s one other alternative: I could buy a new copy of Windows 10.

So, I’m now running the Ubuntu Linux Bionic Beaver distro.  Seems to be working just fine.  And (if you know anything about Linux) I still have access to all my documents, photos, etc. in the old Windows file system.  Cool, right?


While I was fiddling around with the laptop over the course of a few days, I forgot to postpone or cancel (although I’m not sure cancelling is even an option in Windows 10 – “leave everything to us”) the update on my desktop computer up in my office.  When I finally checked on it I discovered the same thing, only not quite as gorked.  My desktop icons are still there and any non-Microsoft software seems to work just fine.  Firefox, Thunderbird. Open Office all work great.  If I had a shortcut icon for the program, I can use it.  The little window icon in the corner doesn’t work, so there’s no access to any apps or programs I didn’t put a shortcut on the desk for.  And, all the windows programs like Edge and the calculator (really? the calculator) don’t work.

So, I continue fuming, sort of a slow boil, while I use every spare minute to curse Bill Gates and his evil spawn.

By the way, a slow, lingering, painful death is too good for the bastards.  May they be tied up and gagged and locked in a room with 20 or more Linux and Mac fanbois.

I’m also reminded of John Malkovich’s line from RED 2.  “Why don’t they just dip our balls in honey and stake us to an ant farm”.  I could work with that.

Decoration Day

Another Memorial Day has come ’round, and once again, I didn’t make the family pilgrimage to the cemeteries.  I was hanging out at home, hoping someone at one of the local plants had an accident (non-lethal, of course; you can’t do drug testing on a dead guy) so I could pick up the relatively lucrative call-out fee.  Never happened, so I’ve basically wasted another opportunity to document my family members’ locations in the cemeteries.  I am running out of these opportunities, what with both my parents being 90 years old (or close enough, in my Dad’s case, with his birthday only a week away).  And I’ve missed another opportunity to take a few moments to visit the G.A.R. and Spanish-American War veterans’s graves in “our” cemeteries that almost no-one visits anymore (along with those from our later wars, of course).

I’ve never been good at the sorts of posts that I would like to write; inspiring, patriotic remembrances and the like.  I have those thoughts and feelings in me, I’m just horrible at getting them out.  Just as well, I guess, as there are others who are better at it anyway.  Like Aesop.  As for me, later in the week I will be in western Kansas on business.  I will be driving through Ft. Dodge.  I’m planning a stop at the military cemetery there.

Reading Aesop’s post reminded me of my Grandmother.  She always used the terms “Decoration Day” and “Armistice Day” (which she pronounced ar-MIS-tuss).  Being something of a traditionalist (in some respects, at least) I’ve always been fond of those names.  Then again, I’m fond of the idea that those days should be important enough in our National Consciousness that they should warrant actual designated days (May 30th and November 11th would do nicely) instead of the most convenient nearby Monday.  Not that the powers that be would ever allow that to happen; it would be uncomfortable to have to acknowledge that “Memorial Day” is supposed to be about honoring the fallen and all that entails (like honor, duty, patriotism), and not merely a handy excuse for a 3 day weekend at the start of barbecue season.




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