Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Murder in the Men's Room

Honestly, is there anyone who wouldn't think that after seeing this at the local JCPenny's?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Storage by Any Other Name

Flash drives.
Jump drives.
Thumb drives.
Pen drives.
USB key chains.
USB key.
USB memory stick.
Dongle (though this has a slightly different meaning.)
USB memory key.
That thing I plug into my computer that provides removable storage.

Many names for the same device. These handy little things provide removable storage, like a floppy disk that lasts longer and is less prone to corruption.

The most commonly used name is Flash Drive. (Or USB Flash drive.) The two main components of such a device is the USB plug that sticks in the port on your computer. USB ports are the same on desktops as they are on laptops. Flash drives hold your files, movies, music, and pictures so you can transfer them, use them on another machine, or back them up in case the computer runs its last RAM.

Flash drives come in large sizes now. As of this writing, the smallest Flash drive I could uncover is a mere 2Gig drive. And there were only a few of those, crowded out by the herd of much larger Flash Drives.

Flash drives are convenient. In an era when many computers no longer come with floppy drives, Flash drives are a universal storage media. There are no moving parts in a Flash drive, so they last longer and are less prone to failures.

Some flash drives come with programs on them (instead of the program coming with CDs). Others can even run a program off the Flash drive, for example, it's possible to get an email client or a web browswer (with all your settings and favorites in place) to run off a flash drive.

Wonderful little devices. I wholly recommend them for storage and file transfer.

Images from WikiMedia Commons

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Town Monday: Backroads

In Livingston County, there's usually more than one good route to get from one town to the next. Some rural areas have only a few routes between areas, but much of Livingston County is connected by paved (more or less) two- lane (ish) roads.

The older and more curmudgeonly I get, the less I like the main roads of Livingston County. I don't like driving on Grand River for long stretches between Brighton and Howell. Too many idiots in their fancy cars with their fancy phones distracting them from the overspending they've just done at one of the too many retail centers in the area. I've checked my car and it doesn't appear invisible to my eyes...

So, I'm learning more of the "Back roads." Growing up, I knew there were at least three ways to get into Brighton from points south--Brighton Rd, Brighton Lake Rd, and Rickett Road. Rickett's the most fun since it's completely straight. It's also a deer magnet. And the site of the my impact with said quadraped.

<-Rickett Road On the back roads, I can relax. I don't have to worry as much about being run over by someone who fails to notice the little car in front of them. I can listen to my music, talk to myself out dialogue for the next story, and just enjoy the drive. There's no rush. I can look at old architecture on the houses and take in the scenery.

And yet, given the opportunity (and excluding peak traffic times) I'd just as soon get on the expressway than wind through most the major roads of the county. I also don't care for dirt roads-- too much sliding of the car.

I don't like spending too much time in the car. But if I'm going to be there, I may as well enjoy the drive, one way or another. Preferrably with some good tunes playing and no other drivers trying to play Monster Truck Rally with me.

How do you like to get about your town?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: We Have a Budding Pyromaniac

Ooo... pertty fire.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Town Monday: Hamburg Elementary

This post is a little ranty...

Now, economically, things have been rough in Michigan for quite some time. We lead the way into recession years ago.

One of the casualties of the failing economy in Livingston County is the schools. The number of students has been dropping in all the local schools. This compounds another problem, which is that the Livingston County schools get the bare minimum of state funding, in spite of increases in student body and tax-base. It's a political thing... and it's hard on the local schools. We're suburban these days, but the we don't get funded like a suburban school. We get funded like small-town two-cow rural schools. We're totally four-cow towns, at least.

So, the school districts look for places to cut. One of the places was a little elementary school in Hamburg. Hamburg is a tiny town anyway, and the elementary school had about 300 students. That's it. It was the smallest school in the Pinckney school district, but it was also the most cherished. Logically, it made the most sense to close this one elementary and shuffle the students into the other area schools. It's regrettable, because, honestly, this is how an elementary (hell, any school!) should be. The staff knew all the students, there's was an incredible sense of community, and it was an integral part of the community around it.

Now, forgive a little more political ranting, but if Pinckney was a smarter school district, instead of boarding up Hambrug Elementary, they'd have that building making them money. How? Well, they'd open up their own alternative/ adult education program. Pinckney schools hemmorages high school students, most of them heading to another alternative ed program in the county. These students are non-traditional and most of them hate the way that Pinckney High School is run. (I should know... I was one of the students that couldn't fucking leave Pinckney fast enough. I made it 2.5 years of high school.) In other districts, a well run alternative high school program is AT LEAST self- supporting. At best, it can actually make the district money, as, allegedly, the program in Brighton does.

The size of Hamburg Elementary is about perfect for a small alternative school-- or even half the building would suffice. It would put the building to use instead of leaving it boarded up. So far, there's no vandalism, but it's really only a matter of time. Someone will have "fun" trashing the place and then it'll end up like the closed schools in Detroit-- too much money to repair.

Now I'll admit my biases. I think Pinckney schools has a dreadfully mismanaged high school, still. (I think it's an identity thing-- they still act like a small cow-town rural school when they are not. They are a suburban school.) I also work for an alternative high school that is run well and is financially solvent. I also hate to see this wasted opportunity. There are far too many places boarded up in Livingston County, too many casualties of money and poor planning.

I love my county. Really. But it's hard these days. Maybe my students who think that the Great Depression has to do with needing Prozac aren't so far off the mark...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts on Thursday

I use lots of pictures to illustrate over 2,000 pages of computer training. I had an opportunity to drive around My Town on a beautiful afternoon.
O my poor Michigan. The Depression began here in 2001. This album is named after a song by Jethro Tull: It was a new day yesterday, but by God, it's an old day now.A few years ago, this little community was alive and well. Plainfield, Michigan is a farming community with good people, good weather, and good services. Where did the town people go?
This was a rich man's farm house in Byron, Michigan. Now the trees grow through the front porch.
Look at the details around the window and roof. This is still excellent farm land. Why did the farm fail?
Where did the farmers go?
Durand, Michigan hosted the Union Rail Road Station. Four or five roads lead from town to the depot and the warehouses. This was the place to get a job if you didn't work on the farm. Where did the trains go?

This is the train named, "Last Call."
Seems to fit: a big, powerful piece of hardware standing quietly forgotten in a little fenced yard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Spying

Looking through the slats of venetian blinds always makes me feel like a spy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Town Monday: McPherson Hospital

Not really a good topic for Labor Day weekend, but having spent a few hours there this weekend, I decided to do my post on it.

Yes, my little county on the edges of suburbia has it's own hospital. Still. Once upon a time, an area like this might have a small, or two. In fact, like airports, Livingston County has two hospitals. Brighton Hospital has no emergency services, which, admittedly, was completely mind boggling to me for many years. The other hospital is a more traditional, if undersized hospital.

McPherson Hospital is in Howell and it's real easy to find-- just follow the blue H signs. (Now, I'd really appreciate if hospitals also had a few signs leading, oh, say BACK to the major road ways...) McPherson hospital was originally started in 1920, operating out of a house donated by the McPherson family. It had 18 beds.

Later, land was donated for the construction of a proper hospital. It is only three stories tall at the tallest. It's small. And, while still a good hospital, it certainly isn't the same caliber as, say University of Michigan Hospital about 30 miles to the South in Ann Arbor. And not far to to east of UofM Hospital is St. Joesph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor (aka St. Joe's.) While sometime it's a toss up between which hospital is closest and which is more high tech etc, I'm partial to the cute little one. It's like miniature hospital...

And, as I found out first hand this weekend, they have some good staff there. In fact, my visits there the other day were each shorter than the visit to urgent care the week before. See... the thing is my cat bit me when I tried to catch him to put flea medicine on his flea riddle body. Bit me bad. Hence the visit to urgent care, which included a lot of scary stuff about cat bites and infection and boogey monsters before they could give me a couple drugs a splint for my finger. Except one of those drugs had it out for me. I think it was paid off... maybe someone doesn't want me to finish the novel.

Since it's been about 8 months since I last developed a new allergy, I guess it was time. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms manifested themselves in enough severity to conclude something was very wrong, it was late Saturday night. So, I made a field trip to McPherson Hospital... okay, techinically, it's now called St. Joseph Mercy Livingston or some such ghastly moniker, but local yokels call it by the right name, McPherson.

Anyway, I'm doing much better now. Almost have use of all ten fingers again. And the offending medication turned poison in being evicted as I write. Though I don't have any good pictures of the building.

Sitting in the hospital room for a couple hours, waiting, I came to the conclusion that hospitals should get local art students or something to paint "Where's Waldo?" style paintings with a selection of little guys (like 10) to hunt out on the walls while waiting. It's about the mental capacity likely available to anyone who happens to be in the ER... and it would be more interesting than unsuccessfully tying to hear what's going on in the hall.

Visit The My Town Monday site for other towns.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Spuernatural Phenomenon?

Maybe the sandhill cranes I was trying to photograph used some magic...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What do You do on the Computer? (A look at Netbooks)

I admit it. I'm on my (or at least 'a') computer most of the day. It's my preferred location, reinforced by events such as today's "Adventures in Lawn Mowing" wherein our hero ended up with an angry, buzzing lawn. (Okay, so my youngest bother was actually doing the mowing, but, man, there were a low of hazard-striped flying things stirred up! My lawn currently has a mohawk until the lawn does some anger management.)

While on the computer, I do a great variety of things. MSWord is my favorite and most used program. I nearly always have a document (or three) in prgress and open on my computer. Novels, assignments, scripts, and other projects are some of the things I do. I admit that mainly, I type. Not too much fancy, in spite off all the nifty things Word can do. I totally underutilize this great program. (It's worse with Word2007!)

I also use Excel, PowerPoint, and Picture Manager at least once a week. I use Outlook daily. And Media Player regularly. And a couple other programs for specific purposes.

And of course, the Internet. I love the Internet. I love Google. And I have my list of favorite haunts, places to visit, things to read or enjoy. I could spend days on the internet.

The more I use my computer, the more likely I am to do things on the computer these days.

Now, one of the big issues with computers is what you do-- this relates to what sort of computer you need. My brothers play games on their computer and thus require machinea with some guts and go power. I collect parts and cobble together a machine from "outdated" parts too slow for my brothers' gaming needs. I need something that is fast enough to multitask since I never have less than three programs running. Something with space to store my projects. And good internet access.

One of the hot new trends is "netbooks" which are small laptop-type computers. They're usually pretty small in size and guts. If you're only using the computer for Internet, email, and the occaisional Office application, very well may be the most economical choice, rather than buying a regular computer or desktop. One of the things to make sure of is, if you type a lot, that the small sized keyboard is adequate. Nothing like a crappy keyboard...

Same as the Mac/PC debate, the most important factor is whether the computer does what you need it for. It's not worth the money, even if it's cheap, if the computer isn't used regularly.