Archive for the ‘miscellaneous’ Category

In honor of Texas Independence Day.

March 2, 2017

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS — FROM BUM PHILLIPS

Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas

Big applause for Fossil.

February 18, 2017

I would like to give a big shout-out to the Fossil Store at North Star Mall here in San Antonio. My watch band needed to be replaced, but the jewelry repair place to which I took the watch to get the band previously adjusted closed down. I took the watch and the band I ordered for it to the Fossil store and explained my situation, perfectly willing to pay, mind you…

…and they replaced the band and adjusted it to fit…for free.

Locals, next time you’re in the market for a watch or a nice wallet, you know where to go.

Thursday tech musings, 22.12.16

December 22, 2016

So I am fully assimilated, or about as assimilated as I’m going to get, anyway..

How so? Well, all these years I’ve owned a Mac, but never an iPhone…until last Monday when my HTC One bit the dust. And I definitely don’t have anything  against the Android — I had a couple of them and they were great — but with the less-expensive iPhone SE in Apple’s lineup now, I thought, why not?

It’s pretty neat, honestly. With the way I feel about local storage I’ll admit I had always pooh-poohed iCloud, but the way the phone and the Mac use it to integrate with each other is really cool. I use iCloud on the Mac for the Find My Mac feature, but I had forgotten that I had it set to sync my Safari bookmarks…until I signed in on the iPhone and all my bookmarks came over from my Mac. And when I got home I enabled the iCloud Keychain on both the iPhone and the Mac, and all my saved Safari usernames & passwords came over to the iPhone from the Mac. It was quite convenient, as is being able to respond to my text messages on the Mac instead of the iPhone.

I could set the Mac up to make and receive phone calls, but that’s just a bridge too far…

As far as getting everything off the old phone? Well….remember how I told you that I had that phone backing up to the cloud? Yup. I was able to get all my contacts & pictures back, more than 2,000 pictures from the day I got the phone to the day it kicked the bucket. I was able to download all the pictures onto the Mac, where they will stay. I was able to download all my contacts into a vCard file and import them into the Contacts app on the Mac, where they were uploaded into iCloud and synced to the phone. And, as the saying goes, nothing of value was lost.

phone

And as you see in the photo above, I put a heavy-duty case on it — the Griffin Technology Survivor All-Terrain. Drop-tested, water-resistant, all that good stuff. Sabra had one on her iPod, and we had one on the iPad as well (though the one on the iPad didn’t hold up well at all…)

“But it’s so pretty! Why put it in such an ugly case?”

Well, it’s not so pretty with a cracked screen, and I don’t have the money to be shelling out to fix said cracked screen, or God forbid get a new phone if it gets dropped that hard.

(Apologies for the crappy picture…)

I do still like my Kindle, though. I suppose I could get an iPad mini if I were so inclined, but the kindle is just the right size for a tablet for me. Maybe if Apple made a smaller one (iPad nano, anyone?), I might think about it…

On respect.

November 22, 2016

You know, sometimes I’m a bit slow…

…but I like to think that if I was on a plane, and the captain said a “special military family” had to deplane before everyone else, I like to think that I’d have some idea of what that meant and show some goddamned respect, or at least exercise some damn discretion and keep my mouth shut. I mean, really. You hear all these people talk about “supporting the troops but not the mission”…well, if you ask me, not booing a fucking Gold Star family as they’re getting off the plane is pretty basic support of the troops themselves — the absolute bare minimum, if you will. I mean, really, how can people do that and live with themselves?

Well, then.

October 21, 2016

You don’t need a gun! Just call 911!

The 911 operator charged with hanging up on emergency callers because she didn’t want to talk apparently disconnected hundreds of calls, a prosecutor said Monday….

Prosecutor Claire Morneau, with the Harris County District’s Attorney’s Office public integrity unit, said investigators have identified about 825 calls in which Williams hung up and the person called back within five minutes.

Also, in that story, it says the 911 operator could face up to a year in jail for each misdemeanor charge. Would that they gave her one charge for every person she hung up on. Then and only then would it truly be justice, or anything approaching such.

At any rate, this will be a handy thing to bring up when anti-gunners tell you to call 911 instead of 1911.

“Yeah, well, that was an isolated incident.”

Uh-huh. I bet it wasn’t an isolated incident to the hundreds of people that bitch hung up on.

Thursday tech musings,11.8.16: BACK UP!

August 11, 2016

Hey you. Yeah, you. Got a few minutes? Well, take a couple of those minutes and go read these posts from Borepatch and ASM826, then come back here.

All right. Back? Good. Listen up.

They pretty much spelled everything out, but I cannot emphasize this enough: As the owner of your electronic gadgets:

YOU ARE YOUR OWN IT/SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR.

Here’s what that means in a practical sense, in more layman’s terms:

To put what ASM826 and Borepatch said in slightly different terms, every single electronic device you have is going to fail at some point. When this happens, unless you have the data backed up, there is a very real possibility of losing your data. Different backup options are available for you for whatever electronic gadgets you own, whether they be computers, phones, or tablets or some combination thereof. And if you call your gadget’s manufacturer, most likely they will be more than willing to tell you about those different backup options and even help you set them up.

But the gadgets DO NOT set themselves to back up on their own. You as your own IT/system administrator, AND YOU ALONE, are responsible for setting that up and making sure it is working correctly. Not your gadget manufacturer, not the salesman at the electronics store who sold you said gadget, and certainly not the tech support rep on the other end of the line when you call because you have a problem with your gadget.

Me? I have my phone (HTC One M7) backing up to remote servers (aka the ever-so-nebulous “cloud”) via a third-party app called Lookout. Every so often I import my photos taken on the phone to my MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro, in turn, I back up a couple of different ways: via the built-in Time Machine application to an external drive that I plug in periodically, as well as an online backup service called CrashPlan. $5.99 a month, set up your subscription, install the client on your computer, sign in with your username & password and as long as the computer is turned on and connected to the Internet, all your data is backed up to remote servers without you even having to think about it.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will say this: I have had three Macs, and I have been very lucky with the first two in that I was able to yank the hard drive from the first one and manually transfer everything from it to the second computer via a USB-to-Serial ATA adapter. I did the same thing from the second to the third when the second machine shit the bed. Went off without a hitch both times. But that is absolutely not something I was counting on being able to do. I remember pulling the HD out of that first computer and connecting it to that replacement machine and thinking, “Man, I hope this works.” If it had not worked, if it had been the hard drive instead of the logic board that had crapped out on me, I would have lost, among other things, about 130 albums worth of music — most of which was ripped from cds that I had since lost, and thus would have been very difficult if not impossible to recover.Bu the time the second computer croaked, I had both my Time Machine backup and CrashPlan configured so I wouldn’t have to bank on it again.

Yes, I know. Data recovery is a thing. But it is a very expensive thing, whose prices often start in the mid three figures and often go into four and even five figures, and for that money you don’t even get a guarantee that your data will even be fully recovered (though, to be fair, you do get a money back minus diagnostic fee or something similar if they’re unsuccessful). Makes that $60 for an external backup drive and $5.99/month cloud service backup sound like a screaming good deal, doesn’t it? I see people asking in certain places, “My hard drive shit the bed, can anyone recommend to me some cheap, good, and fast data recovery software?”

And it drives me up the wall.

NO.

If it was important before you lost it you’d have spent the comparative pittance to back it up, and if it’s that important now, you’ll pony up for the recovery or write it off and take the damn consequences.

Tech musings, 30.7.16

July 30, 2016

So, I recently went to the dark side…

I bought a Kindle Fire.

Yeah. I had never been too keen on the idea of e-books before, but it’s really neat. I use the Fire a lot as a tablet as opposed to an e-reader, which has saved my phone battery the workout it’s gotten up to now. There are a lot of really cool games available for it too.

I did finally take the plunge and downloaded my first e-book on it a couple of weeks ago. Only fitting, I suppose, that it was a Tom Clancy book, 1989’s Clear and Present Danger. I have bought at least two or three copies of that book over the years, with the first one being in 1992. It’s even better than I remember it. I remember really enjoying the movie, too.

And with that, here is my favorite scene from it.

Man, that was Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan at his absolute best, right there.

Gasoline licensing and registration NOW!

April 26, 2016

Well, all righty then….

An Adkins man who was convicted of leading area law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase after dousing his girlfriend with gasoline and trying to set her on fire last year has been sentenced to 90 years in prison….

“…(John Brennan) Duncan’s punishment range was 25 years to life in prison because his criminal history classified him as a habitual offender,” according to (a Bexar County DA press) release. It said Duncan previously served time in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felony charge of driving while intoxicated.

During the punishment hearing, another former girlfriend of Duncan’s testified that he had shot at her eight times when she was trying to get away from him during a previous assault, the release stated.

Why was John Brennan Duncan not under the jail already?

Oh, look, another football meathead calling for more gun control!

April 12, 2016

From USA Today:

If (New Orleans Saints coach Sean) Payton had his druthers, we’d live in a country without guns.

“Two hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?’ “ Payton said. “The idea that we need them to fend off intruders … people are more apt to draw them (in other situations). That’s some silly stuff we’re hanging on to.”

Carol Bowne could not be reached for comment.

Also, that comment about the .45 is just…I got nothing. For fuck’s sake you could shoot somebody with a .22 and they’d bleed out if you hit them in the right place!

And then there’s this:

“We could go online and get 10 of them, and have them shipped to our house tomorrow.”

This is what is commonly known as a filthy lie. Once upon a time you could do this, but it was halted by the Gun Control Act of 1968. But of course, this is completely expected, or at least it should be. Lions roar, dogs bark, and anti-gunners lie. If they did not lie, they would not be anti-gunners. It really is just that simple.

“I just know this: Our city is broken.”

Yes, it is. But there’s a hell of a lot more wrong with New Orleans than the Second Amendment.

And of course, this is yet another example of someone who has more than enough money to live in a gated community and afford the best armed security money can buy calling for the disarmament of the rest of us. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

Tech musings, 16.3.16

March 16, 2016

…or, How the Apple vs. the feds bit is the perfect example of government incompetence.

Thinking about it today, it struck me: You know how this entire brouhaha could have been avoided, right?

The whole thing could have been avoided if San Bernardino County had competent IT administrators who knew how to manage their iPhones. If their IT admins knew what they were doing, they would have had Mobile Device Management deployed on those phones, and an Apple ID set up in the county’s name for iCloud backups. If they’d had all of that, all the information on Syed Farook’s iPhone would have been there for the FBI to get through a proper warrant, because the passcode would have been able to have been remotely reset or if all else failed accessed the information in the iCloud backup. But what did San Bernardino County do? They gave their employees free reign over those county-owned assets, and here we are. It’s gonna be fun to see if we get to pay the price for their IT ineptitude…