Thursday, June 18, 2015

Old money trumps new money

I have finally discovered the key to owning antiques. If you bought something at a garage sale it probably isn't worth any money. It may be valuable to you but it probably isn't worth that much. A close inspection of Antiques Roadshow reveals the source of most wealth. It's coming from old money.

If your grandparents had money and bought nice things and these things are handed down through the generations they will be worth money. That watch or painting or lamp that your aunt bought in 1920 in Boston will be worth money today. That painting your father bought in Paris when he was a G.I. during WW2 won't be worth much today. Parisians sold millions of things to American soldiers during the war. Most of it junk.

If your grandparents bought an original oil painting in Greenwich Village in 1918 it will be worth money today. If your father bought a chair in a flea market in 1980 it probably won't be worth money today. The secret of having nice things is to have grandparents who bought nice things back in the day.

An artsy fartsy summer

Last weekend I was making an appearance at Peddler's Village and decided, perhaps unwisely, to go through Lambertsville and take the bridge to New Hope and continue on Route 202. As I was driving I encountered throngs of crowds along the way. I got excited at first. "They must be giving something away!" I was thinking. Perhaps new computers, or antique pottery. Perhaps they are giving everybody new cell phones! I was wondering what brought thousands of motorcycles, hundred of baby strollers, and hundreds of thousands of idlers to these relatively small towns.

When I finally went to a couple of shops I realized, no, they weren't giving anything away at all. A painted water jug was going for $50. A set of cups was going for $200. Why you can buy these at K-Mart for pennies on the dollar, I thought.

What is the attraction that makes normal human beings want to converge on these towns en masse? I guess it's the atmosphere. The lost youth of baby boomers. We were all going to become cabinet makers and potters and guitar makers until we put on ties and got jobs with insurance companies or found ourselves in  civil service. We go to Bucks county to relive what might have been.

When visiting dignitaries come to our doors we need someplace to take them. We can't take them to the Shop-Rite. They have those in their towns. So we buck traffic and take them to Bucks County. When we have new companions we want to show off our hip creds to we don't take them to Walmart. We take them to Peddler's Village and pay five dollars for a scoop of ice-cream. I know, for millennials Bucks County is about as hip as Branson, Missouri.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

From DOS to Cortana

Some men are nostalgic about cars they used to own. At a barbecue they'll tell stories about the old Camaro or Chevelle. Other men get nostalgic about their former wives. I guess I wax nostalgic about Microsoft operating systems. I remember the first DOS computer I had to use at work. It came with three floppies, big ones, that you had to load to get the thing to work. First you put the operating system in the drive. Then you put the program in the drive. Finally you put the data disc in the drive. You felt so modern, so with-it those days. You knew how to use a computer. And your waist size was 32.

The first computer I ever bought came with Windows 3.1. It was and will always be, my favorite operating system. Easy, fast, and it did everything. It even got on the Internet back in the day when the Internet was text only and ran at 2400 baud. The good old days.

Things got fancier with Windows 95. You had to pay for the Internet (the old dream that the Internet would never be commercialized but would forever be the province of academics and idealists soon faded). Now you got color. Images didn't move around yet, and we were all happier.

Windows 95 wasn't perfect. I can remember reinstalling my Windows from discs at least once a month. And backing up the thing with floppies every Saturday morning. But it wasn't so bad. I could drink as long as I wanted then and not have to worry about gout or triglycerides. Soon Windows 95 became Windows 98. With the new century we got XP.  A few years later we got Vista. We watched movies now on line and more importantly, met women. The modern age had begun.

Now I am living with Windows 8.1. I learned to live with it's quirks. But why does it keep looking for a proxy when I have none?

In early August I plan to take advantage of the free download of Windows 10. Having Windows 10 will give me something to talk about in the break room and at parties. I'll be able to talk with authority on life with Cortana and Edge. I'll be older and wiser and get a discount on going to the movies and have Windows 10 waiting for me at home, next to the cane.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The truth about reality tv

Unreal is a new summer Lifetime tv show on Monday nights at 10 and repeated in various places including online.

Since the advent of the form,  I have believed that reality tv was just that. An unaltered view of random events in people's lives captured by a television camera. I always believed that what I saw was an accurate view of America as it is lived by real people. I even believed that the Bachelor was completely true, unfabricated, and an unvarnished look at true love, at least as it exists in Southern California. The tears I cried during the show were real tears, responding to real people and love in all it's incarnations.

Now, thanks to Unreal,  I have learned that what you see on reality tv is made up, directed by behind the scenes people, not even pleasant people, with gizmos in their ears. These assistant producers even direct what happens among the real people being photographed. This program has taught me a lot about  American media. Today I've become a man of the world.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Americans don't understand the Europeans

Just reading about the bru ha ha about our new Attorney General attempting to
stomp into a Swiss hotel and put six of the world's most distinguished citizens into handcuffs for taking bribes. We Americans are still virgins when it comes to how things are done in the world outside our borders. Favors, a few dollars here, a few dollars there. That's the way soccer has always been run.