Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Deep in the heart of Texas

I spent the Easter weekend visiting kinfolk in Texas. We got in the Buick van, equipped with two child seats, and plenty of other seats for the grownups and dogs, and we were off. We traveled about two hundred miles, passing farms and cattle ranches throughout Texas. The signs are different in Texas. In addition to the religious slogans I passed a store with the name "Condoms to go". Never remember seeing one of those back east.

In Texas they aren't afraid of fracking. They have it in public parks in Dallas and even below the runways at DFW. Oil derricks pumping oil are a common sight in the parking lots of shopping malls. Yep.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Tyler Rose festival museum. Here we learned the history of the Tyler Rose Festival, especially the crowning of the queen and got to see dresses with trains that extend about one hundred feet. I guess they do things big in Texas.

The food was good. Nothing like barbecue with pinto beans and cornbread. Still it's nice to be back where they know how to make a decent pizza and don't say y'all every two minutes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter thoughts

Easter is a major holiday in the Catholic church. Although not as eventful as Christmas, the ending of Lent, the new suit and the dinner spent with relatives in your new clothes make it a special day. Or at least, a day a little bit out of the ordinary. Lent is the period where you are supposed to give up something (like candy) and put your extra dimes in mite boxes. After Easter you can stuff yourself. The altar at church is purple during Lent but white on the big day.

Good Friday is a day off from school. If it is late enough in the year, it is traditionally a good day to plant gardens. My mother said she was taught that whatever goes into the ground on Good Friday will come out of the ground. I guess that is why grumpy relatives are never buried on that day.

Holy Saturday I remember decorating eggs with the Paas kit. I notice now they recommend coloring eggs using the Internet. Well in my day... I also remember hiding eggs around the house. One fall day my mother discovered an egg under the couch when she was vacuuming. It was getting a bit gamy by then. I don't remember public Easter egg hunts like the kids get nowadays. They seem like fun. Easter Sunday you put on your new suit. I remember walking up and down Kaplan Avenue with my new suit and tie. Never again would the suit be so clean.

The weirdest Easter I can remember is when my aunt died. Uncle Joe and a forlorn looking Philip showed up at the house. The relatives tried to look cheerful. Another Easter I remember we didn't have that many people, maybe a bachelor aunt or two. By the afternoon I was starting to yawn. Then I looked out the window. Black clouds were everywhere. Frankie's market had burned down again. We all ran to see the fire. That saved the day for me.

Editor's note: Yesterday I passed a rabbit on the way to work. I wished it a Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Windows XP

I remember working in a public library on the  Y2K project. It was a really big deal. The head of technical services insisted on disconnecting all the computers from power sources in case there was a power surge. The theory was that at midnight, New century's eve, fires might break out, destroying all the library's computers. It was a scary time. I think he would have turned off the hot water heater if the door to the maintenance room wasn't locked.

Now we are in a somewhat similar situation. Many of us, due to complacency, poverty, or just procrastination,  still have XP on at least one of our computers. Yet we all have been told that on April 8 Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. It has not risen to the level yet of people unplugging their desktops in case their computers catch fire on that day. Still, it is worrisome. Oh My, what are we going to do?

Microsoft wants us all to buy Windows 8. Unfortunately that costs over a hundred dollars and older computers oftentimes don't have enough juice to run the thing. One suggestion I have heard is using Ubunto and switching to Linux. That may work but some of us are afraid of Linux. What happens if we can't get email on the thing? Linux. Oh My!!!

One thing I heard is that if you use Google Chrome as a search engine and ITunes to listen to audio you may be okay for a while. That seems the easiest, if not the safest solution. Sort of like taking aspirin to ward off a heart attack.

Editor's note: I have installed Ubuntu on an old notebook of mine. Seems to work, but it's a liitle klutzy. I like the way it gives you jungle drums instead of beeping at you if you do something wrong.