Taking a break from the conversation.

Today I decided to take a break from the conversation–online conversation that is. I didn’t actually plan to do this, I just happened to have a rare early morning in bed where I wasn’t in a lot of pain for some reason (Yup, I’ve suffered from some pretty annoying chronic pain for a number of years now–you’d think I’d be used to it by now?). My body and mind were, for once, blissfully relaxed so I decided to do my utmost to remain that way throughout the day and this meant staying out of any online social-type conversations. And it wasn’t so difficult to do.

You see, there’s been a new outbreak of something called “anti-vaxxers” that includes a whole new breed of grossly uninformed fanatics and they’re plying the waters of social media in droves. Now where I make it a firm rule to avoid these types of fanatic infested conversations like the plague, I felt myself unwillingly drawn into them by some irresistible force.

Resistance was futile.

I won’t get into the horrid details of what lay in wait for me within these comment threads of saturated ignorance since I wish to spare my readers, who I just know are not only objective in their thinking but are very informed as well, from experiencing any sort of second-hand damage to their intellects.

So instead I think I’ll use this opportunity to wish a good friend of mine and fellow blogger (who is actually older than I am) a very Happy Birthday…

…which is sometime this month although I can’t recall the exact date ‘cuz my brain is fried from the past 3 days of online conversation-with-idiots experience.

Was that actually a sentence?

Anyway I even came across the perfect gift for the “awd lad” but I haven’t actually found where to buy one of the things let alone tackle the problems of shipping it to Ireland. Still, it’s the thought that counts?

inflate a pub

He could put it in his backyard maybe?

Stocking it with the brew of his choice I’m afraid would be up to him of course since any sort of what might pass for a decent brew in Ireland never reaches the shores of the US. They only ship us the stuff they wouldn’t drink if you paid them.

So Happy Birthday, Grandad! And many more happy ones to ya!

A pretty sneaky way to wish someone a happy birthday, I think.

Could we have a Internet troll vaccine?

Anyone who has spent any time at all on the great and powerful WWW reading and leaving their comments on various comment threads of blogs, news articles, social sites and such, have come to know and dread the arrival of the Internet troll. And while there’s really no one thing that attracts these trolls, writing about any sort of controversial issue will often do the trick.

Politics and religion will almost always bring them in droves although it’s difficult at times to discern the trolls from the truly stupid or the “cultist”. But the latest thing, at least according to my personal observations, are these so-called “anti-vaxxers”. And, heaven save us, they’ve started calling it a “movement” as well. Nothing like “movements” and “causes” to bring out the idiots.

So could we have a troll vaccine please?

Now before I go any further I should point out that for anyone who’s actually followed this old blog of mine over the years (there must be at least 3 or 4 of them out there somewhere), they know very well that I’m not in the habit of labeling people “idiots” or “morons” or any other type of derogative term. But I just can’t help it this time. It’s just become so obvious during the past year or so I just can’t hold it back any longer.

I’ll say one thing for this so-called anti-vaccine movement, it sure brought the trolls out of the woodwork and on top of that, they’re the lowest form of troll I’ve seen yet.

One thing that all trolls all seem to have in common:

  • They can’t spell.
  • They can’t punctuate.
  • They seem to have no clue of how to form a sentence.
  • Skipped every class that involved teaching anything about grammar or history or English or anything.
  • Skipped every class period.
  • Ignores actual facts while cherishing their own bullshit “facts”.
  • Has a love affair with their caps lock.
  • Always resorts to insults and personal attacks in the end.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s as far as I want to go at the moment.

If it’s not horrendously long comments full of subjective rambling rhetoric of little or no substance…

…or paragraphs…

…or punctuation…

…or properly spelled words…

…or sense of grammar…

…it’s a short one or two liner telling a previous commenter that, “your not only retardedbut you mother walked the peers with a matress straped to her back so give ME a brake”, or something of that nature.

We who prowl the great and mighty innerweb are all too familiar with these lower forms of animal life who do their utmost to disrupt even the most genteel and intelligent of virtual conversations. And no subject is sacred especially these days where the trolls seem to be even more thriving and abundant than ever before with no real cure in sight.

So, how about that Internet troll vaccine, huh? I mean, we have anti-virus and Internet security suites for those who use Windows, spam filters for our email so why not a virtual anti-troll vaccine for our comment threads? With all the open source developers out there coming up with all these wonderful things from software to operating systems, you’d think it was possible.

If so, these Internet trolls’ days are surely numbered?

Or not.

 

Freezing in Wonderland

We’re having a fine old time freezing our butts off here in Wonderland, VT. What, you say? Wonderland(?) you say? I thought you lived in a place called Newport?

Well, okay, we do live in a place called Newport, VT but I’ve gone to calling it Wonderland instead which is due to the fact that I’m really starting to wonder if the town city will ever get off it’s collective hind ends and actually do something with itself. But hey, that’s another set of stories. This post has to do with freezing our hind ends off.

This a general, “Winter in Vermont” type post just so you know.

Too much snow on the roof

Makes it easier to clear the snow off when it’s like this?

Now, I’m not complaining really (no, really) since actual snow falling from the sky has been minimal so far.This means that there’s been much less arse-busting involved so far this year which is good since I don’t have a lot of arse left to bust. Of course, there’s always stuff to do.

For example, I really need to haul apart one side our larger snow blower to make sure the carburetor isn’t ready to fall off. Yes, it’s happened before with our smaller one which, believe-you-me, gives one a rather hollow feeling when you’ve just run two passes up and down the driveway after a good two-footer of a snow storm and the machine backfires, the engines dies and the carburetor ends up dangling 6 inches off the ground by the end of the throttle cable.

And yes, the carburetors on snow blowers are usually screwed to the heat shield as well as the engine block but the screws holding said carburetor to said engine block have a nasty habit of backing themselves out so all that’s left holding the darn thing anywhere close to where it should be (meaning that aforementioned engine block) are the screws holding it to said heat shield. And those aren’t all that substantial hence the falling carburetor.

Okay, so much for lessons in snow blowers so back to the reason for this post.

It’s been a cold winter so far. Like Arctic cold. For example, we’ve had a high of 0F for today, we had -24F last night and are looking forward to the same thing tonight. My poor old Jeep looks more like a 4-wheeled, economy sized cube of salt than the Jeep Liberty it actually is. And running it through the local car wash is out of the question at these kind of temperatures. At least it is if I ever want to get into it anytime before the spring thaw. Doors have a habit of freezing solid at temps running 0F or below.

The good news is that we’re still working on last season’s firewood to heat the house so we haven’t had to touch the 5 cords we had delivered for this season yet. On top of that, my lady is now retired and home for good which makes things a bit warmer all around.

Otherwise, it’s bloody freezing outside. This means the electric 5-ton splitter I have to use now to split our firewood into a size the stove can use is pretty much useless. At least at these temperatures. Since I can no longer swing a splitting maul without risking life and limb (mine and probably anybody who’s in my general vicinity), the electric splitter is what I have to do the job. The motor might actually turn over on it’s own after a few tries but the hydraulic ram is reluctant to do anything else but jitter a bit because the hydraulic oil is too cold. I suppose I could have drained out the heavier weight oil used for warmer weather and replaced it with the lighter weight oil recommended for our type of Winter temperatures but to be honest about it, flipping around a 150 pound electric splitter twice a year is more than my body can take at this point.

No real problem though. Once the temps get above 20F the thing runs fine and it usually gets there every few days. Then it’s split like mad to replace what I used during the time the splitter was in hibernation.

Anyway, like I said before, this is just a general “Winter in Vermont” type of post so there’s no real point in it. Just an excuse to write something I suppose. But the sun is shining, the stove is burning bright and it’s warm and toasty–more or less. More inside and a lot less outside.

But the simple fact is, despite the cold snowy winters we have around these parts I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Even if it came with central heating, thermostats, shopping malls (within 75 miles) and lots of money.

Well, lots of money wouldn’t be so bad but heck, you can’t have everything. Now where’s my long johns?

Turning the page to a new chapter

So, how does one begin writing again? Especially since it’s been near a year since my last post. How, I say, how? By turning the page to a new chapter, that’s how. But I probably need to clarify what I mean by this as it’s probably simpler than you might think.

Basically it boils down to the fact that absolutely nothing happened over the last several months of my life. At least nothing other than than the same daily routine day after day after day. And that kind of daily schedule does not provide fodder or even the inclination for writing.

Herself (to borrow the online “nom de plume” for the “better half” from Grandad) got up, had breakfast and went off to her store 7 days a week and I kept the home fires burning so to speak, did the needed chores and went on the required errands, etc and so on. Once in awhile I manned the store while my honey made the necessary store-related trips down-country every 3 weeks but even this was hardly anything to write home about.

This routine literally did not change since  the last time I posted back in March, 2014.

But now…

….finally…

….it has.

My honey has retired!

Or, at least to say, she has retired her store after 9 years of being in a brick and mortar. Perhaps more on that at a later date. What this means is that she’ll be home all the time now. No more just the cats for company. No more calling back and forth from home to store and visa-versa. And no more girlfriends coming over no more lack of female company.

Of course, some would wonder how she and I are going to get used to being together all…the…time. Answer? Easily. It’s how we started out in the first place. Since there was no trouble being together 24/7 back then, there should be no reason that should change now except for the minor fact that we’re a bit more creaky than we were 9 years ago. I could say a bit more on that subject but I won’t.

Now comes the joy of  finding places for all the stuff we brought back from the store. A chore that will probably take us the rest of the winter however, since we have all the time in world now to get it done, there’s no real hurry.

Unless, of course, we want to start living in the house again instead of a tent in the yard (I may be exaggerating that a bit).

So here’s to the future adventures we can now share together. We may even get brave and actually travel down-country about an hour or so and go to Walmart! Pretty daring for folks our age?

Got to love this retirement thing.

 

 

8 years and other contemplations

I logged into this old site of mine this morning just to poke around, update a few things and redo my original “About me” page when I realized something–I missed it! As of February 2nd of this year, Just Thinkin’ was officially 8 years old! And it all began with this post. Rather ironic as the current weather outside is still not this:

Spring forest sky

A look at the sky through the trees on a beautiful Spring day in Corinth, Vermont.

Outside I see yet another 4 inches from the “snow showers” we had yesterday adding to the 2+ feet of snow we’ve had on the ground for the last 2 months. Oh well, Spring has to arrive sometime.

And now for the typically long-ish and rambling part of the post.

Anyway, the realization of this bloggish anniversary of mine has brought up a question that’s been simmering in my mind for the last few months. What to do with this old blog of mine.

Posting has been beyond sparse these days, the most recent post being published this last New Year’s day. To be honest about it many things have changed over the past 8 years and many of those past things gave me a reason to post which is actually rather odd since this site never had any real purpose, goal or even any particular subject to post about. Just a place to write about the off-beat ramblings that burbled around in this (slightly disturbed?) head of mine and the need to write about it–I guess that would be a purpose? Things are still burbling around alright but the need to write them down sort of ran off.

Something else that drastically changed over the past 8 years–the rise of social sites namely, Facebook and later, Google Plus.

Ironically enough, I signed up for a Facebook account strictly out of curiosity as well as a bit of an experiment back around the February, 2009. I made my obligatory first post to it as well as filling some basic info on what passed for a “Time Line” back then and then pretty much never posted to Facebook again. Then, two months later, my wife’s eldest daughter contacted her about playing some game on Facebook and it snowballed from there. Not too long after that, all 5 of her children ended up on Facebook and of course, started picking on me. I had no choice but to retaliate so my time on Facebook began to increase which is even more ironic since, even today, I rarely post anything on Facebook at all. Just reply to posts and comments.

Then, about a year ago, one of my old shipments from the old USS Silversides (see header image at the top of this page) contacted me via email telling me they had an ‘Ol Silversides Facebook page for former crew members and I was dragged “back to sea” as it were.

More time taken away from the blog.

And now, Google Plus came along and everything changed again. As much as I disliked Facebook, I really liked Google Plus and to this day I really can’t give you a specific reason why. There was just something about it that really appealed to me. Now, my Google Plus Home page “feed” is all about Linux and open source plus a few other odds and ends and absolutely no posts about cats or images of auto-spellcheck mistakes in text conversations and absolutely no maps announcing that someone is busy swallowing their second sloppy Joe at Barney’s Pub and Grill and regretting it.

And yet more time taken away.

One thing I do have in common with both Facebook and Google Plus is that I rarely post to Google Plus–just reply to posts and comments.

So as the “social sites” thing gained steam and quickly increased in popularity as time went on I watched the popularity of “social interaction” taking place at the personal blog level, the platform that I feel contributed most to the online social phenomenon in the first place, simply dwindle away.

The personal blogs were still out there of course, but many owners now had Facebook accounts to which they shared their blog posts. The problem I saw with that was now the conversation on any particular blog post that would have, in the past, taken place at that particular post’s comment section, now took place in Facebook. To me the personal blog had then become an extension of Facebook, driving the conversation away from the original post, rather than Facebook driving the conversation back to the personal blog. And that’s something I had a real problem with.

After awhile the idea of writing short blog posts about the every day events in my life or about what a uniquely beautiful day it happened to be began to seem rather silly when many of my fellow bloggers  had turned to sites like Facebook and such to post about same type of things instead of posting them on their blogs and yet I couldn’t seem to make the switch myself.

Because of all the above plus my own struggle with my service connected disabilities, writing to the blog withered away to almost nothing but I’ve never been able to bring myself to the point of retiring Just Thinkin’. After all, it’s the DYI WordPress site that I cut my teeth on and learned on. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, mistakes I had to learn how to fix myself and learn how to accept help from others (and finding friends along the way). Learned how to effectively do research and to find the right answers by asking the right questions, etc. And through all those mistakes, all the recoveries, all the updates and all the posting, this old original WordPress install has managed to survive the past 8 years intact.

My but this post is getting long, isn’t it?

So, in the end I still can’t bring myself to put the old thing out to pasture but I have decided a few things. To wit:

  • I need to stop thinking about the posts that have gone before. There’s no common thread between any of them so there’s no use looking for one. No guide for future posts. Anything goes as far as subjects are concerned.
  • No more short posts. There will be an occasional exception to this but I figure if I have a need to write some miscellaneous 4-liner I can do that on Facebook, Google+ or not at all.
  • If I have a thought, idea or subject I figure is actually worth writing about and publishing for all to see then this is the pace to do so.
  • If it’s worth writing about then it’s worth taking the time to do it. If it takes a couple hours, fine. If it takes a couple of days then fine again. There’s no deadline here and there’s certainly no one out there breathlessly waiting for my next post. Especially these days.
  • No more thinking I have to maintain some type of posting schedule. If I have something to write about, then write about it. If I don’t (or I can’t) then that’s the way it is.

That’s about it then I guess and despite what it may sound like, this isn’t any “turning point” at all. It’s simply that the past 8 years have changed my situation and me along with it. And this old site of mine is simply going to reflect these changes. It’s too much a part of me now to ever put aside.

So, without further ado or further rambling on this particular post…

To be continued…

YANYRP

Well, well, 2014 has finally arrived on a chill wind and below zero temperatures which means it’s time once again for a Yet Another New Year’s Resolution Post or YANYRP for short.

To be perfectly honest about the whole thing, I scarfed the following image off a Google+ post made by a friend of mine including my reply as I figured I really couldn’t top that “moment-of-inspiration” I had when I first read the check list below–inspired mainly because I couldn’t understand most of it.

Anyway, for what it’s worth…

resolution-checklist

Find your “Why”

I know the “Why”, it’s the “What”, “Where” and “When” that’s gone missing.

Write down a plan

I wrote down a “Plan” but it’s apparently gone off with the “What”, “Where” and “When”.

Recruit others

I actually “Recruited” 3 “Others” but they stayed for about 20 minutes, got bored and went off to find the “What”, “Where”, “When” and the “Plan”. Probably figured they were having a more interesting time of it.

Start a log

I started the log and it burned very nicely, thank you. But it probably would have been better if I had put it in the wood stove first.

Set weekly goals

I’ve got all the parts to set the “Weekly goals” but it’s winter in these parts, the ground is frozen solid and I can’t get the posts in the ground. Guess I’ll have to set my goals in the Spring, then?

Pick on-completion reward

On-completion reward? I’ll pick winning the lottery every time. My youngest son-in-law and his wife needs a bigger place (they just won’t stop having kids, you know). The trouble is, I never know when to stop so how do I know I’m complete?

Do something to seal the deal

And I’m just about to do something to “Seal the deal”. I’m grabbing the “Why”, a bottle of scotch and going off the find the “What”, “Where”, “When”, the “Plan” and the 3 “Others” I recruited. They’ve  got to be having a better time than I am trying to make all these New blasted Year’s resolutions!

All in fun, of course.

A Happy New Year’s to all, then.

A Caring Man Am I

It was Friday the 13th and I arrived back home after a day trip to the VA medical center and I pulled into our driveway just in time to see my poor wife limping around the corner of the garage pushing our wheelbarrow full of firewood that, for some reason, only had one handle. The fact that she was limping didn’t bode well either.

It seems she had loaded up our ancient, deep dish type wheelbarrow with the night’s firewood, wheeled it out of the woodshed and caught the font end on a chunk of ice just as her feet slipped out from underneath her. She ended up bruising her hip while the museum piece wheelbarrow lost a handle. I’m glad it wasn’t the other way around–I’d hate for the woman I love to lose her handle.

Now, I am not an uncaring man. Despite her protestations, I insisted that my wonderful lady, the woman I love so dearly, shouldn’t have to suffer having to bring in firewood one armful at a time or be forced to use a one handled wheelbarrow. Absolutely not, I wouldn’t hear of it.

So I bought her a new wheelbarrow.

Truper wheel barrow

No one can ever say that I am not a caring man.

 

Breakdown of Destiny

I have two big toes. This, I assume, is the normal way of things and that most people have the same–except for those who apparently should never have been given a ax or chainsaw. Now this wouldn’t mean much except for the fact that both have ingrown toenails, the left one being the worst. In fact, it’s so bad that it inspires visions of a pretty female podiatrist holding a stainless steel clad, high pressure type hypodermic with a huge needle filled with industrial strength Novocain. Not the kind of ingrown nail that a  5 minute session in the bathroom with a pair of nail clippers will take care of.

So, like the last time this happened (about two years ago), it was time to head down to the VA medical center and see that pretty podiatrist with her nasty old hypodermic and various, shiny metal tools of big toenail destruction. At least, that was the plan.

I had the appointment made two weeks ago, one week out I started a regime of antibiotics in order to curtail any infection that might have set into that left toe of mine and yesterday morning, I was ready. Just a leisurely two hour ride south to the medical center so to make my 2:40 PM appointment. Unfortunately, I was going to be racing a major snow/sleet/ice/rain storm on my way back but all weather reports looked like I’d be at least an hour ahead of it.

My old Jeep Liberty had other ideas about this apparently.

Just inside 30 miles down the highway the engine light came on followed by the engine deciding to run on one cylinder…then 3…then all kicked in for awhile just for good measure then back to one again. And, of course, I had just passed the last exit before the long climb up the mountain as well as the last highway crossover.

Damn!

Oh well, I just threw on my hazards and backed up a quarter mile and used the crossover to point myself and my sick Jeep the other way.

Thankfully, the engine never quit although it felt like the cylinders, which had been dancing in harmony with one another for years now, were in a heated argument as to which one should be firing and in what sequence. Makes me wonder…did they suddenly forget?

Despite the mechanical arguments going on under the hood, the old girl made it back home and then up to my mechanic that evening as if making it back home after breaking down wasn’t quite enough. Little show off.

Turns out that little breakdown may have just prevented me from having to drive back in that “winter weather event” as they’re called now. Perhaps the storm would have arrived early or maybe I would have gotten out later than I expected into the “wet and heavy”. Who knows? Either way, my days of driving long distances in snow storms (I’ve clocked several hundred hours over the years I’m sure) are not quite as enjoyable as they used to be, if you catch my drift. Someone or some thing looking over my shoulder, perhaps?

By the way, my appointment had been rescheduled for December 13th–which happens to land on a Friday. You don’t think this means anything…do you?