Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thank You World Wide Web

Dear internet,

Thank you for helping me find my wonderful wife and introducing me to some of the best friends I've ever had in my life.

Thank you for because I'll never again be without a book to read.

Thank you for

Thank you for

Thank you for,,,,, and all the other wonderful websites which teach me new things, make me laugh, help me find things I would otherwise never have found, help me buy things I could otherwise never have afforded and bringing the entire, great-big, wonderful world into my home, placing it at my fingertips.

I know I owe you big-time and I'll keep doing what I can to repay you.


Don Crowder

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Love Our Freezer!

When Lisa and I began our new lives together we were both working as stockers in a supermarket in Llano (Texas). The store had a deli and most days there was cooked food left in the warmer at closing time which was distributed among employees. As often as not, we took home a few pieces of fried chicken but there was seldom enough for a meal and Lisa couldn't eat the breading anyway so I pealed off the breading, pulled the meat from the bone, put it in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. I added to the bag each evening until it looked like there was enough in the bag for a meal at which point I'd start another bag. Having little packages of cooked chicken in the freezer lead to one of our favorite recipes, "Apricot-Chipotle Chicken", and gave birth to an idea. These days we have thaw-heat-and-eat packages of cooked shrimp, sausage, chicken, turkey, beef and pork in the freezer along with a collection of really good recipes which are quick and easy to prepare. We can have a terrific home-cooked dinner on the table in a half hour or less. We have to cook our meals, due to Lisa's food sensitivities (hybridized wheat, corn and milk), but we've learned how to make that an asset instead of a liability.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Unanswered questions.

Until today I'd never heard of Epicurus but I was intrigued by this quote which is attributed to him:

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not,
or, being willing to do so, cannot;
or they neither can nor will,
or lastly, they are both able and willing.

If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent.
If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent.
If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent.
Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?”


I love questions which can't be answered. I'm amused by those who feel that such questions have been answered and disgusted by people who are frightened by the questions. I'm content to say "I don't know" but that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to reason out an answer.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sometimes Serendipity Pinch Hits for Wisdom

When mom died we'd been living with her and taking care of her for years. This was our home and, after the will was probated, I was half owner of the house with my sister owning the other half. She wants to sell it; we don't. This is still our home. We offered to buy her out, making what we believed was a fair offer. She wanted $15,000 more than we offered. She found a lawyer to take her case and threatened Judicial Partition. Rather than negotiate with her lawyer (as the letter we received strongly suggested) we spoke with the young lawyer who handled the probation of mom's estate/will. Our thought was to have the place inspected and appraised enabling us to approach my sister with an offer based on confirmed reality. He suggested we have the house inspected but hold off on the appraisal. The inspection results show a very large collection of problems with the house, not all of which can be repaired. The inspector suggests we tear the place down and start over and, based on his results, the house is worth substantially less than our previous 'best guess'. My sister is stubborn, willful and not too bright. Bless her heart. I'm so glad she didn't accept out offer. That would have been the beginning of a never-ending nightmare for us. We were saved by serendipitous dumb luck.

I don't think my sister and I will ever get past the enmity this has created between us but I'm betting that one of us will eventually attend the other's funeral. Sometimes that's enough. Life is change; change is good.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Life, Love and the Imminence of Mortality

Aa little over six years ago a close internet friend (close in the ways that are only possible on the internet where there are no pheromones to interfere with our words) was having problems with her significant other. I'd long since decided the man was an insensitive lout who didn't deserve or appreciate her and I was angry over the way he treated her. My anger overcame me a little and I commented that "Your relationship really sucks" to which she instantly responded "So does yours". I was stunned. I got through the rest of the day in a numb haze. By the next day I decided that she was right so I sat down and had a long talk with my wife. After a brief emotional storm she calmed down and admitted to agreeing with my assessment of our relationship. So we separated amicably and that was that.

Not too long thereafter, my internet friend decided that it was time for her to move on as well and Texas was as good a place as any (she was living in Florida at the time). She rented a truck, loaded up her 'stuff' and her dog and drove to Texas. Within nine days of arriving in Texas she had a place of her own, a car and a job.

The woman is Lisa Miller. The dog's name was CeeCee. She and her dog changed my life and rocked my world. Next month, on the 24th of April, Lisa and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

A few days ago CeeCee developed some sort of physiological problem which made it difficult for her to stand and walk. The problem came and went, getting a little worse every day, for several days. Yesterday it got bad enough to keep us up with her until about 4 AM this morning when we finally had to get some sleep. At about 8:30 this morning we loaded CeeCee into the van and headed for the Vet's office (Jim Jenson's Cedar Hills Veterinary Clinic in Llano, TX and we highly recommend him). CeeCee died before we got to the clinic. We turned around and drove back home, dug a hole in the back yard, wrapped her in the old quilt that was her bed and buried her.

All morning the orchestra in my head has been playing Ingrid Michaelson's song, Everybody. The lyric line I keep hearing is

Everybody, everybody wants to love
Everybody, everybody wants to be loved

Thank you Lisa, for moving to Texas and changing my life. Thank you for loving me and being someone I love. Thank you CeeCee for playing ball with me, begging me for snacks and being my dog too. I will remember you. I will miss you.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Universal Life Church

I am an ordained minister in the ULC, which is free on the web though it seems to me it was ten or twenty dollars in the ads which were in the back of most comic books when I was a kid. I've been asked if I seriously consider myself to be a reverend/minister/preacher. This is my 'official' answer to that question.


If you understand that, to me, it means I hold all life in reverence
then I am a reverend.

If you accept that it means I will tend your wounds if I am able
and hold your hand if it helps you face your demons
then I am a minister.

If you believe me when I tell you that God does not
want you to be cold, hungry, alone or afraid
Then I am a preacher.


This isn't a quotation. These are my words and they come from my heart.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cloud Computing for Gullible People (Not)

In this issue of our electric co-op magazine there's a full page ad from a company that calls themselves firstSTREET about the GO COMPUTER. It purports to be a safe, secure, user-friendly operating system targeted at senior citizens. There's all sorts of info on the ad but nowhere do they mention what the OS is. The CPU is built into the keyboard housing so there's no tower. It's using an Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz) processor and the rest of the specs, from the website, are as follows.
# 1 GB Ram
# 160G Hard drive
# 4 USB Slots
# Built-in Wireless
# Speakers come built-in

It actually looks pretty good up-front but as you get into it there are some disturbing clues in the ad. I'll quote some passages I found interesting.

*in the unlikely event that your computer does develop a problem we'll send you a replacement absolutely free*

Sounds to me like there's a heck of a fat profit margin in this thing!

*since your data is remotely stored, you'll immediately have access to all of your original emails, files and photos ...instantly.*

Ok, so we're talking about cloud computing here and, at this point I tried to find a decent tutorial on cloud computing to link to but everything I found was overcomplicated so I'll just have to write my own.

Traditionally, the software applications (programs) you use on your computer are located on the computer's hard drive. This started way before the internet. You bought a computer and installed a word processor, maybe an image editor, possibly a spread sheet, some games, whatever. Then came the internet and full-time, always-connected high-speed connections. Now it's possible to use all sorts of fancy software which *isn't* located on your computer; it's located on the web. The industry first referred to this technology as *web 2.0* but, as it became more sophisticated and the possibilities began to expand, folks started calling it *Cloud Computing*. What's the advantage for you the user? First of all, you don't have to buy a Word Processor, secondly, if your computer crashes, you don't lose any of your important stuff because none of it is located on your computer, it's all right there on the web where you left it.

So what's the bottom line on the GO COMPUTER?

Price: $879.00

Holy Mackerel Sapphire, that's almost 900 bucks for a cloud computing system. They've gotta be kidding!

*Cloud Computing* is currently a major industry buzz word. The folks at gOS are soon to release what they're calling Cloud 1.0 which is targeted at low-priced netbooks, Canonical and Red Hat are venturing into the cloud computing market while Google's (cloud computing) Chromium OS is under rapid development and beginning to get lots of media attention. Cloud computing is going to be a big thing because it lowers the cost of a basic computer by an order of magnitude. Looks like firstSTREET is trying to get their licks in quick, before the competition shows up and knocks the stuffing out of their margin. For example, check google shopping for an HP 2010 mini (netbook). It's got a smaller screen but very similar specs to the Go Computer at about a third the price. If you go to eBay and search Computers & Networking/PC Laptops & Netbooks for 'mini netbook' you'll find plenty of seven inch machines running Windows CE in the $50 to $200 range. Of course Windows CE is something of a joke but I'm guessing there'll soon be plenty of them listed with Linux operating systems and larger screens too.

Senior citizens, with regards to firstSTREET's GO COMPUTER, all I can say is don't do it! Just don't. Take half of that $900.00 with you to an electronics discount or monster-variety store (Fry's or Walmart) and buy whatever sort of Linux or Windows 7 laptop they offer for that price (It's likely to be a superior machine) and have your grandkids show you how to use it. You can *Cloud Compute* on any machine that has a browser.

A couple of moderately helpful cloud computing resources:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oh, Will You Just Shutup About Illegals

I get so tired of listening to pseudo-patriotic diatribes going on about illegals. I lived in Brackettville, seventeen miles from Mexico as the crow flies, for fourteen years and learned a few things about illegals.  Without illegals you can't farm because you can't hire farm workers;  American citizens won't do that kind of work for any sum of money.  Without illegals you can't run any sort of construction business because you can't hire workers;  American citizens won't do that kind of work for any sum of money.   Without illegals you can't get rid of garbage, eat fast food, or do any cattle ranching because (by now I'm sure you've guessed) American citizens won't do that kind of work for any sum of money.

No matter how you feel about illegals, the fact is that businesses all over the United States would be severely crippled without them.

Most illegals have forged, bogus Social Security cards but the U.S. Government is pleased to accept their taxes and Social Security payments.  For our government this is *free money* because they'll never have to pay a refund on the taxes collected on bogus Social Security accounts and they'll never have to provide any benefits to those workers.

Thousands of American citizens make out like bandits by renting substandard housing to illegals at premium rates.  The illegals will never complain for fear of being deported.  The landlords never have to fix anything or worry that their tenants are going to make trouble for them and those landlords are paid in cash so the chances are good they don't bother to report the income.

Medical facilities and mechanics routinely charge illegals about twice the going rates with complete impunity.  They know that illegals will just pay the money, in cash, and never complain.

Once our government has pissed away millions of dollars on a giant fence, illegals will find other ways to get across the border. The fence isn't a solution.  I don't like it but the only solution I can think of would be to annex Mexico as our 51st state.

Mexican nationals are, de facto, an integral part of the U.S. economy and, while I'm debunking mythology, the majority of those who abuse our nations welfare and social services systems are native born American citizens who grew up in this country and have learned from the inside how to properly exploit the system.

No, I don't have any brilliant ideas about how to solve the illegal problem but figuring out that the only solution our government has come up with so far is going to be a fiasco isn't rocket science. American politicians have always chosen to deal with the hard problems by throwing money at them. The problems don't ever go away but when the government starts throwing money people tend to stop bitching and start grabbing. We call that the Status Quo and it keeps folks complacent until they get distracted by the next big problem.

If you're up for some irony, who do you think is building that much vaunted fence?