A New Computer, Leive’s Travels, and Jack Pattie Day

A lot has happened in the past week, and I couldn’t report it here because I didn’t have a working computer.  Regular readers, family and friends know that I go through life with one foot in cyberspace, so that really hurt.

The trouble started on Tuesday when I used the System Restore command on my computer to fix a program that wouldn’t either run or reinstall itself.  System Restore never gave me any trouble before, but this time it corrupted or erased a critical file named txtsetup.sif, and the computer would not boot after that.  After spending $170 to use a helpdesk company named iYogi, and talking for nearly five hours with six or seven folks, all of them with Indian accents, we managed to get the computer to work again, by replacing the registry with a back-up registry file I made last week.

However, the txtsetup.sif file was still missing, which meant I would be in big trouble if Windows crashed again.  I decided to reformat the main hard drive, using the recovery disks I had made when I bought the computer nearly four years ago.  Everything went all right until I put in the last disk, and it turned out to be no good.  I can’t remember a CD or DVD failing on me before, so why did it have to happen now?  I called the Geek Squad, but they couldn’t help me without another set of recovery disks, so I was left with a dead computer.  The good news is that I had backed up my data on external hard drives before trying to reformat, so the only thing I lost permanently were the bookmarks on my browser.  And the tower has two internal hard drives and one CD drive that according to a preliminary test, are in excellent condition, so maybe someday I can reformat the messed-up hard drive and use all three with a future computer or network.

On a hunch, I called the nearest Radio Shack store on Thursday, and they had a laptop on clearance that sounded good enough for my purposes.  That afternoon I went and bought it, along with a few accessories.  In terms of capabilities, it is probably just as good as Leive’s laptop, but it runs Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista.  I’ll just say it cost me less than any other computer I bought over the years.  Since then I have been configuring it to my style of work, and to run my favorite programs, which should keep me busy for several days.  One thing that surprised me was that quite a few of my old favorite programs, like Cardfile (a Windows 3.1 accessory), won’t run with Windows 7, so I have to find newer programs to take their place.

In other news, Leive is out of town.  Yesterday she went with the ladies of our church, to a retreat on the other side of Estill County.  This is Aldersgate, the same campsite I went to three months ago; you can see the pictures from my trip in the message I posted on May 30, 2010.  She’ll be back tomorrow, but in the meantime, our parrot Brin-Brin definitely doesn’t appreciate having me around.

Today marked the fourth anniversary of the ComAir Flight 5191 disaster, in which an airliner crashed near Bluegrass Airport because it took off from a runway meant for private planes, and hit the nearest trees and a fence.  Ground was broken at the University of Kentucky Arboretum, to build a memorial to the crash.  It will be a metal sculpture with 49 silver doves, one for each victim.  With a bit of luck, it will be finished by this time next year.

Finally, today marked 35 years on the job for Jack Pattie, the most popular DJ in town.  Jack does the morning show on the leading AM station in Lexington, WVLK (590 AM).  In that sense, he’s a lot like Jim Turner on WDBO in Orlando, my former home.  For me he brightens up my commute to work, but apparently he means much more to the oldtimers.  Today’s show was broadcast from the Red Mile racetrack, and around noon the mayor proclaimed today to be Jack Pattie Day, inviting everyone to celebrate by going home early.  I’m telling you this because if you don’t live in central Kentucky, you probably don’t know Jack!

Is Summer Ending Already?

Well, my fifth summer in Kentucky is going by, and I’m still not sure what a typical summer around here is supposed to be like. The local fireflies, for instance, in years past had come and gone in June, but this year I saw one or two as late as last week. And in previous years, I don’t remember the weather cooling down before the end of August, but it looks like it’s doing that now. While it did get up to 90 degrees on Saturday, it has been no higher than the mid-80s since. Now we’re expecting a cold front in the middle of the week, so on Thursday night, the forecast is calling for a low of 52.  Who’d have thought I’d need to wear a jacket to work this early in the season?  Out in Nevada, they haven’t even had the Burning Man festival yet.

Why Do Drug Manufacturers Bother?

 

I don’t get it when it comes to commercials for prescription drugs. No doubt they are required by law to list all the harmful side effects that might result from taking their product. With the printed media, you can buy a full-page ad and keep the disclaimer text small, but with radio and TV commercials, the warnings take up more time than the sound bite telling you about the drug’s benefits. I don’t know about you, but after hearing all that, I’ve been scared out of wanting to try the drug, and I’m certainly not going to ask my doctor about it! Why do the makers of pharmaceuticals even bother to advertise on radio and TV?

 

To give an example of what I’m talking about, take this disclaimer for a drug that is supposed to help you quit smoking. Quote:

 

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion thoughts or actions while using ***** to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking *****, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping *****. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop , stop taking ***** and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking *****, as these symptoms may worsen while taking *****.

 

Some people can have serious skin reactions while taking *****, some of which can become life-threatening. These can include rash, swelling, redness, and peeling of the skin. Some people can have allergic reactions to *****, some of which can be life-threatening and include: swelling of the face, mouth, and throat that can cause trouble breathing. If you have these symptoms or have a rash with peeling skin or blisters in your mouth, stop taking ***** and get medical attention right away. Do not take ***** if you have had a serious allergic or skin reaction to *****.

 

The most common side effects include nausea (30%), sleep problems, constipation, gas, and/or vomiting. If you have side effects that bother you or don’t go away, tell your doctor.

 

You may have trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual, or strange dreams while taking *****. Use caution driving or operating machinery until you know how ***** may affect you.

 

Unquote: if I was a smoker and saw all that, I’d conclude that it was safer to keep puffing away. Altogether I think the only ad for a drug that I ever liked was the one where Dr. Frankenstein’s monster is acting like a normal guy, now that he has gotten help for his arthritis.


 

Leive’s Garden So Far

After the heat we got in July and the first half of August, this week has definitely been a surprise.  A cold front came through on Monday and dropped daytime temperatures from the 90s to the mid-80s.  Then today the sky was overcast, and we got some rain, so the warmest it got was 75 degrees, unbelievable for what is supposed to be the hottest month of the year.  Like I said before, I haven’t figured out yet what the rules are for Kentucky weather!

The local talk never misses an opportunity to shift to basketball, though basketball season is still months away.  This week the University of Kentucky Wildcats  went to Canada, played three exhibition games with Ontario colleges, and won them all.  UK may have lost all its good players from last season to the NBA draft, but already it looks like the next season will be another better-than-average one.

Yesterday Leive began her fall planting, by putting a few kale and lettuce plants in the garden.  She also picked another bagful of squash and peppers.  It has now been nearly two months since she started, so what have we learned about gardening in Kentucky?  Well, here is how the veggies have done:

Great = okra, sweet potato, and zucchini.

Good = eggplant, pepper, tomato and winter squash.

Poor = broccoli and Chinese cabbage.

The ones that put on a “great” performance grew like weeds, and weren’t bothered much by the local bugs.  They act like they’re perfectly suited for the Kentucky climate, though I know the okra and sweet potatoes would like a long, hot Florida summer better.  So far only the zucchini has produced a harvest, but I eventually expect to have bumper crops from all of them.

The “good” veggies also gave a harvest, but it was a smaller yield and the bugs bothered them more; the bugs even killed a few of the plants.  Still we’re pleased enough that I expect Leive will want to grow them again next year.

As for the “poor” crop, the Chinese cabbage did not survive the attacks from the flies, while if the broccoli survives, I don’t think we will get much of a harvest from it.  If we try them again in the future, they will require much planning and coaxing; currently Leive hasn’t yet talked about trying them again.

Oy, It’s So Humid!

Yes, today reminded me of a comedy song from the 2 Live Jews, hence the title of this message.  I’m sure those kosher rappers had Miami Beach in mind, but right now it’s feeling a lot like that here in Kentucky.

We had a good thunderstorm last night, so it was quite steamy when I went out this morning.  The backyard needed mowing (the part Leive hadn’t dug up for her garden), and though it was not as hot today as it had been for the past few days, a heat advisory was still in effect, and the humidity took a lot out of me.  So did a short shopping trip in the afternoon.  But I’m glad I did all that, because we got two more storms, one at 3 PM and one at 7:30.

Speaking of the garden, Leive went through it on Friday night, to pick as many tomatoes, peppers and zucchini as possible.  The peppers by themselves were enough to fill up a plastic grocery bag.

Yesterday was my in-law Gene King’s birthday; he and Rezia went to the town of Paris (Paris, KY, not Paris, France) for a date.  Rezia told us how at the restaurant where they stopped for a meal, the waiter walked out before he was done serving them!  No, it wasn’t anything Gene or Rezia said.  According to the other workers in the restaurant, the guy had only been there for three days, decided people-pleasing wasn’t for him, and just took off.  I suppose it would have been asking too much for him to curse out everybody, grab a beer, and go out on a slide, like the Jet Blue flight attendant did last week.

Broken Branches and Break-ins

Before I begin with today’s message, I have addition to yesterday’s.  This morning I woke up to hear the radio announcing that President Obama has come out in favor of the Ground Zero mosque, though a strong majority of the American people oppose it, even in liberal New York.  Not a word on the destroyed Orthodox church at the site, though.  I guess I can add that to my list of reasons why I believe Obama is our first Moslem president.

Last July 21 I wrote about central Kentucky’s really scattered showers, and this week we had two more examples.  On Tuesday around 7 PM, a short but heavy one fell on us; I got a soaking because I was driving around at the time.  However, I found out the next day that it only affected our neighborhood of Lexington.  Apparently the rain did not fall on any weather stations in the area, because my favorite weather website, Wunderground.com, is not showing any rainfall for us in the whole first two weeks of August.

Another storm blew through at 1:45 PM yesterday.  At work we just got some rain, and it did not even cool down the oppressive August heat for long.  At home it came with a brief but fierce wind, that reminded Leive and I of Hurricane Ike in 2008.  When I got home I found the road outside our house covered with leaves and tree branches; I also saw a big screen had come off a neighbor’s window.   Fortunately we haven’t found any damage on the house, and the main damage to the yard was in Leive’s garden, where a tomato cage was knocked over, among other things.  I heard on the news that closer to the center of town, a rotten old oak tree was toppled, destroying an art exhibit that was being constructed underneath.

Also in the news, I learned that on Thursday night there was a break-in at the church we currently attend.  Here is a link to the story and a video.  The good news is that nothing was stolen; windows and doors were broken, so it was more an act of vandalism than a burglary.  Therefore I expect this weekend’s services will go on.