Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boo at his best

That is a picture of a full grown Black Lab, named Boo, that lives at my daughters, my son-in-laws and grandsons home. A Black Lab with a sweet tooth. Sure glad it lives there and not here!

Friday, April 18, 2008

School security

Each morning, the students swipe their ID tags as they climb onto the school bus. A radio frequency tag tracks them, as it does when they arrive at school and as they leave the building.
Cameras watch them all day. Every visitor — parents, volunteers, the guy who fills the Coke machine — must surrender his or her driver's license to a secretary who checks it against a national database of sex offenders. This fall, nearly one in three schools literally trap visitors inside a "secure vestibule," a bulletproof glass room, until they're checked out. Welcome to the brave new world of school security. In an era when deadly school shootings seem to happen like clockwork, schools are hardening up, trying unconventional means to deter violence and keep track of students and adults.
This is not my grandson’s school but a real one I picked off the Internet. Scary isn’t it? This morning around 10 am I went to his school to bring him something he forgot at our house this morning. As I walked up and tugged at the doors, I was surprised but they were locked. Instead of walking in I read a rather large sign that directed me to “push the doorbell” on an intercom type of a gizmo with a button. “Could this be the “doorbell” they were referring to on the sign. Didn’t look like a doorbell but more like a gizmo of some type. I checked all over the door just to make sure there wasn’t a real doorbell somewhere else on the door and this sign wasn’t turned around or something. Kids have a habit of doing those things, you know. I was nervous being here in the first place and I didn’t want to make some type of an error with security, of all things, as I’m sure I would feel the full wrath of the Principal. [I’m still scared of Principals.] After I reread the sign directing me to do so and carefully following the arrow that was on the sign, which told me where the “doorbell” was, I pushed the button, with much trepidation. A very nice voice, female one it was, came through the gizmo and inquired of my mission. I convinced her that my mission was righteous and she said ”please come in to the office and we will help you”. I waited for the telltale clunk as the magnet pulled up the latch to unlock the door. The noise didn’t come but I still tried the door and found it now mysteriously open. “Must work off the Internet or something” I reasoned as I walked through. I noticed a small camera above my head silently filming me. “Filming” is probably the wrong word to use. I assumed that the camera was hooked up to a computer that was using some type of facial recognition software to determine whether I was a terrorist, a casino cheat, or a child molester. It turns out that they don’t have that type of software and that there wasn’t 10 security guards, being led by the Principal, that were waiting to swoop down on me if I messed up. Things have really changed in our schools and I’m sure that there will be many more changes coming in the near future. I think that the real threat is the child molester and not the terrorist.
The first paragraph of this story is about Houston, TX and they have a much more serious problem than we do but I’m sure were not far behind when it comes to school security. When my daughter 1st went to school it was in the state capital of South Dakota. She walked the three blocks to school and there definitely were not any cameras there and the doors were not locked. I’m not sure they were even locked at night. Our house doors weren’t. At the school where my daughter teaches, Middle School, which is a mere 1 block away from her son's school, the teachers become the front line of defense. They pull duty greeting visitors to the school and make sure that they are not terrorists before letting them in. The teachers refer to this as "Target Duty" and that is exactly what it is. Houston's idea of trapping visitors inside of a "secure vestibule" of bullet proof glass is a bit more teacher friendly. It was a different environment 40 years ago. I'm not so sure I like the "Progress" that we have made in those 40 years.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ahhh Spring, finally

What is it that tells you that Spring is really here? How about some 66 degree temperatures? Being able to leave your coat at home when you go for a walk? We all have a different trigger to signify a change in seasons and for me it is going to work in the morning at the cemetery and as I go through the main gate and I look at one of our planting beds and see the following sight.
I quickly jump out of my truck, as I spy the tell-tale green shoots sticking through the layer of leaves and move away the leaf cover and this picture is what lies beneath. SPRING! I have procrastinated this posting a few days and already buds are appearing as spring overwhelms us. 70° temperatures accelerate the pre-show and the upcoming forecast of three days of rain will merely solidify natures march to full Spring color. Hopefully the grass will take a few more weeks to grow. Along with the pre-emergent shoots of tulips and crocus the birds arrive in force. I have no idea what has possessed the Robins to show in such force. I do not remember a Spring when so many arrived together and so soon. I took my camera with me yesterday and managed to capture a couple of our bird visitors. The Downy woodpecker seemed excited about my photography and posed for me several times. I also managed to capture a female Northern Mockingbird hanging out on our tomb stones.
I missed a shot of my first Ivory Billed Woodpecker, all 18" of him because yesterday I forgot to pack my camera for the day. I included a photo of this monster that I got from the web so you can see what I missed.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

On Site Computer Repairs

Yesterday I started my computer and as it started up, the screen turned black and that was all that there was. My heart stopped! How can that possible be? I turned it off and restarted and as it came up the screen went black again and there was no more. No explanation, no list of things that went bad, no fatal exception warning, no nothing. I tried a dozen times to no avail. This is every computer owners worst nightmare. Oh what will I do [position back of hand over eyes], what will I do [wring hands quickly]. I know, I will call my computer Guru, Michael. Quickly I dial 413.427.4473 "HELP MICHAEL, HELP!", "I have blogs to write, before I sleep, blogs to write before I sleep". "Sorry Ted, I'm with a customer and can't come until I am done." "Oh, OK Mike give me a call when you get free".

Mike came today, typed a few things, and the computer started up normally. YESSSSS! [Fist closed and held about waist high and a short punching motion is delivered]. About last Thursday Mike was over here to help me install new memory. Computer came with 256 MB of Ram and we boosted it to 1000 to make it so the computer would not keep giving me message that "computer is low on memory....." Eventually the computer would tell me that the programs are "Not responding". I would reboot but the computer started not restarting [dreaded black screen mentioned above] giving me heart attacks so we raised the RAM. Now, since were back on line, the computer responds with almost blinding speed [almost].

These problems that I am having having been rearing their ugly heads for some time now and I think that I have the problem solved and WHAMO the next day everything turns to hell again. Michael diagnosed the problem over the telephone and told me where to go to get the the memory, I needed, fast and cheap and he would come over and help me put it in. Should have called him first. He showed me where all of those little programs reside that eat up your RAM and how to get rid of them but you can really get yourself in trouble messing with them if you don't know what you are doing. The safe solution is to add more RAM and bypass them. All of the memory, plus shipping, came to $69. I called and ordered it about 1pm and by 11am the next day I had it in my hot little hand ready for installation. I have included Mike's business card here because he did such a great job and in case someone close is reading this and needs a computer guru.