Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Hundred and Ten Blog Posts

Finally, more than three years in, done a D Check on the blog, and to my horror       I discover that I’ve written 110 posts. This is 111.

I had to check the links on the “Earlier Posts: Start Here” page to see if they went where they were supposed to go and the posts were where they were supposed to be. Everything’s on the proper page, although once you get to your page you may still have to scroll down some, because there can be six or seven posts to a page. You’re forewarned about this in the introductory text when you click on “Earlier Posts.”

But 110 posts? Good grief. Do I really have that many interesting things to say? Probably not. But since I don’t expect that a whole lot of people will be tuning in, the idea of the blog is partly to amuse myself and partly an exercise in meeting deadlines.

And I mean that part about “exercise.” I think you can go slack on meeting deadlines if you don’t keep in practice. The one outside one I had to meet this past week was a “Here it is, 3PM, we need it back tonight” assignment. You don’t want to be out of shape when one of those comes up. That’s the reason for the anguish of the April 3 “Placeholder” post and the excuses in the January 19 post back in 2015.

All of which is not to say the deadline is more important than the subject, but it’s important; when it’s time you may have to go with what you’ve got, and not every post or column will sparkle. Anyone doing this type of work will prudently try to stay ahead with a trunkful of ideas, but as the world turns, something written then may come to seem not as entertaining or clever or funny now. Print it anyway?  Certainly not. Unless you have nothing else ready.

Anyway, the links are working and the blue type is legible if your eyes are good.     If you’re looking for writing services, I would call your attention to the posts listed under “Selling,” because most of the others aren’t about that. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016


California has seven draw lotteries going all at once. You can play some semi-weekly, some daily, and still others twice or three times a day. One advertises “There’s a draw every 4 minutes.” You can add the national lottery to that, so if you’re feeling lucky there’s no lack of outlets for you to try. Oh, and if you don’t like to wait for drawings, there are seven scratch-off ticket games you can buy into from one dollar on up, for prizes up to the tens of thousands.
The odds vary from terrible to astronomical, but so what? The potential rewards are astounding. Someone won 22 million dollars just a couple of weeks ago. Not bad for the price of a dollar and a few seconds’ breathlessness as the numbers are drawn.   
The big numbers , like that 22 million, are yours only if you take the installment payout over the 20 or so years. If you take the lump sum up front -- a real temptation and the only practical course for some of us -- the amount is discounted for present value, which often comes out to half, and of course you pay tax on the half. You might wind up with only 35 percent of that big number, but -- wotthehell, wotthehell -- seven or eight million ain’t bad.
Some of my friends never play any of the games. I guess it’s the principle; they just don’t approve of gambling, or anyway not at those odds. Unarguable. But the other way to look at it is that for 365 dollars, you have 365 chances to win, on any given day, as much money as someone in a middle management job might make over 30 years. (We exclude bigtime corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers who hit their own jackpots long ago.) 

Then too, not hitting the big one doesn’t mean you’ve lost the $365 for the year. Secondary prizes from several dollars to several hundred are bound pop up along the way. A near-miss, say four numbers in a five-number game, can return your year’s investment and leave you  playing for free  to the end of your fiscal year.
 But of course it’s not the calculation of ROI that keeps you going; it’s the dream: “What would I do with 7 million dollars?” Somewhere in the state, someone is wrestling with that question right now.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


It took 7+ hours, but we’ve retrieved almost everything on the computer. I say “we,” but I had little-to-nothing to do with it. My computer guy, Jack, taking over and working remotely, went into places in the computer I didn’t know existed. There’s  something almost surreal about watching the cursor flicking around the screen while you sit there idle.  
The main thing I was looking for was a database with a mailing list I had manicured for a decade or more but which had suddenly disappeared. Of course it was from something I did; files don’t literally disappear without some input. Trying to type faster than I really can I probably hit some delete function without realizing. 
Probably everyone who works a computer has experienced that feeling that comes a nanosecond after you’ve done it -- “No, I didn’t just do that, did I, but deep down I know I did.” If you haven’t felt it, I would say you’ve missed an emotion that rivals, in depth and profundity, what you felt the time you discovered the spinach on your tooth after delivering the valedictory address. The second thing I would say is, “If you haven’t, you will.”
We recovered almost everything, but through a peculiarity of the “Restore” function of Windows I now have two copies of it. Occasionally I had backed up a file manually (something I intend to do more of from here on) and in those cases I have four copies. If there’s a way to delete the extra copies all at once I don’t know it, so I have to plow through deleting them one at a time. It’s going to take weeks.     
Still, I can’t complain. The database shows some peculiarities I don’t remember from before, but the list is there. I’ve made three copies of it and pulled another onto a removeable drive. I should be safe. Like I thought last time.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


In the crime shows, the perp tries to delete the evidence that he’s been surfing the “How to Kill Your Wife” websites, but some third-level geek in the FBI lab pulls it up and they nail the guy for Murder One. “Nothing is ever deleted,” we learn. It’s in the computer somewhere.
So -- when my computer contracted a case of temporary Alzheimer’s, it shouldn’t have been that big a problem. Especially since I took the precaution, when first setting things up, of adding a huge-capacity backup hard drive. That should mitigate any effect of losing things on the primary drive, I thought.
Well, not necessarily. A lot of stuff went missing this past week for as-yet unknown reasons, and the loss included the blog posts I’d been preparing. My computer guy rummaged around in the bowels of the machine for six hours, and some things have been recovered, but not nearly all.

I hate to miss a deadline and I can’t let this one pass without proving to myself that I didn’t really miss it. On the other hand, I’m too annoyed to come up with 3-400 words that would be interesting, even to me. Maybe another six hours inside the computer...