Discussion

Sigh

Best wishes to Dave as his injuries heal and a warm welcome to Jess.

If you check the date of both the permalink and the post date, you’ll see I tried to start this post almost a week ago, but alas, I’m still in the middle of … it.  When it has passed, I have a story to tell, but it causes me to be curious: What planned major life events have you carefully planned for but when undertaken went completely awry – not just a curveball, but where your set plan went sideways?

Maybe I am Superman?!?

Actually, I am not… But, I have good news.

After my accident, they flew me in a helicopter to a hospital in Rumford, Maine. If I’d known I was going to that hospital, I’d have told them to let me loose, I’d find my own way.

In short, it has a deservedly poor reputation. I mean it has a VERY poor reputation.

Since my stay at that hospital, I have had the chance to see my regular doctor who got me an appointment with a specialist down in Portland. Portland is quite a long way away from my place so I went down Monday and, as expected, we had those casts stripped away in no time and some more x-rays taken as well as prep for some additional possible work.

It turns out that they’re all compression fractures and I’m now just wearing regular old braces on both wrists. Every two hours, when I’m awake, I take off my braces and do a little work with some rubber bands and a ball. I can type, “As much as you want, unless it starts hurting you afterwards. In other words, if it starts hurting a few hours after you’ve stopped then you pushed it too far. Type less next time but continue to use the wrist rest while typing and do not type without the braces.”

There’s no surgery needed and when I take the braces off and do some therapy (they’re different each time with twice daily being the really, really painful ones) I get to put on some nifty things. They are sort of like braces but they connect to a cooler. They call them a fancy name, “cryo cuffs.” Yup… It’s a regular ol’ drink cooler. Where the tap would normally go, they have an adapter. You fill it with ice water and the water and heat creates its own flow so there’s no pump involved. I had one just like it for my knee surgery years ago.

Well, just like it in that it had a knee shaped cuff and not a wrist shaped cuff. Other than that, they’re the same thing. You’ve probably seen them before or I can find you a picture. Hell, I can probably take a picture.

Oddly, what they do not have is a Y splitter. That means I need two of them instead of just one and a Y splitter. I have no idea why they don’t have one. I asked the specialist (the doctor in Portland) who told me that he had no idea why they had no Y splitter and that I am the first one who has ever asked about it. So, if you want a million dollar idea, invent the Y splitter. They are just regular old Colman brand (not kidding) coolers that they take the tap out of and use as medical devices as much, much higher prices than the coolers costs. No, no I am not kidding about that either.

I guess I don’t really care about the price, it’s not like I’m paying for it but it really is an absurd price. He wasn’t sure how much I was paying for the two of them but he thinks they are a few hundred dollars each and that’s before the cost of the cuffs. They are $25 coolers at your favorite camping store, probably. He tells me that he’s had patients who have contacted the company and, for a few bucks, bought the “bung” (the little tap) that goes in there normally. They just unscrew the existing one (though it looks like it might have a metal ring on it – I’ve yet to poke and pry at it but I may when I’m done because I’m a curious individual) and put the tap into place and then they have a cooler that their insurance company paid a few hundred dollars for. Yay?!?

So, yeah, I’m going to be fine. I have still not seen my bike. I guess the handlebars are both pushed forward from where my legs hit them. The cowling is all but missing (fortunately, I swear by wearing chaps). The fork is bent backwards and twisted. The front tire is turned sideways and pushed up under and against the frame. The seat, somehow, is bent as is the rear part of the frame – it all racked. Even the gas tank is twisted.

As I do not yet have pictures, imagine a BMW K 1600 GTL that now fits in the trunk of a medium sized European touring car. I’m told it looks like that.

So, wear your protective gear folks. My gloves probably helped as I seemingly tried to fly like Superman – why, I do not know. My chaps probably stopped my thighs from being laced open on shattered cowling. My jacket means I kept most of my skin where it belonged and not on the car, the bike, or the pavement. My helmet meant that my head stayed mostly the same shape and with things pointing in the direction they used to point and, mostly, functioning as well (debatable) as ever. And my boots? Well, those just made me look cool.

Note: I have no idea why they cut my boots off of me. None. I think they just don’t get a lot of accidents in that area that are serious and they wanted to cut stuff off of me. My feet were fine, seriously. Why they cut them off, I do not know.

I did have some memory loss and I did have some fuzzy moments. For example, I’ve not returned and read my first post that I made when I “came back” to the ‘net. I don’t have a clue what I said. There are a few things like that but MOST of them are, I am told, because of all the damned sedatives they had me on.

Speaking of which, they’ve just upped my dose of Ultram (tramadol) to the highest level – if I want it. I take about half of it but I can take more. That and ibuprofen do the trick – as does the ice. The only time it’s really painful is after I get to play with rubber bands.

Friday, I get to go play with rubber bands and a professional torturer. I’m told they’ll help, in the long run. One minute, they tell me that I’m fine and there’s nothing to worry  about. Then, the next minute, they’re telling me that I have to go see a professional torturer and it’s going to hurt, a lot. If they wanted to punish me couldn’t they have just had me write sentences or something? But no, I’ve got to go to physical therapy until they tell me that I’m good to go.

I’ve also got to wear these braces for a while and use the cryo cuffs. It seems to me that they should hook ’em to a thermostat and a pump. There should probably be adjustable pressure with it… You know, I probably have all the equipment to make such a device right here at home… Hmm…

I’m not sure who would kill me first, the doctor or the missus, if I started fashioning my own medical devices. Ah well…

That said, we can now revert to geeky stuff! Enough of my pain and my accident. I’ll share what happens as it happens but the topic should still be geeky things. For instance, I’ve had a bunch of time to think and do small things and fix small, niggling, yet unimportant bugs. Like, my keyboard’s mute button actually works.

So… Now that I’m reasonably sure what’s going on, now that I’m not worried that typing is doing permanent damage to me, now that I know I’m not looking at a bunch of painful surgeries, now that I know I’m (probably) not going to end up with a bionic hand (which saddens me, just a little) and that it works just fine – I’ll be able to attack my email. I’ll be able to catch up here, get things squared away, and finally get back to keeping on keeping on.

On a more serious note: There are still some fuzzy bits to my memory and I will be going into the therapy session almost two hours early so that I have time to go across the way and get another MRI done. There doesn’t seem to be anything permanent going on BUT that’s probably really due to a combination of luck and wearing protecting equipment.

As I’ve said before, I’ll never (I don’t think) ride a bike on public roads again. I just don’t see it happening. There are other ways for me to ride and safer ways to get my rocks off. I can control what I do, I can’t control what they do on the highway. I was probably beside the driver’s side door of the truck, with both them and I going 45 to 50 MPH, and the driver of the other car was so far to his right that I could not even see him. It was at about that time, when I was there, that they chose to pull out completely into my lane. In the police report it says, if I recall correctly, “I pulled into the lane to see if there were any cars coming.” He was following *that* closely.

So, be safe out there folks. I’m not going to get melodramatic and say I almost died – I’ve been closer to death than this. I am going to get real and say it hurts. It hurts like hell. Son of a biscuit eater does it hurt. It may not sound very macho and manly but, I tell you what, it sucks. I’m not sure which is worse, the wrists, the hand, or (oddly) the giant bruises on my thighs where they hit the handlebars.

Also amusing, but I’m afraid that I’m unable to discuss it at great length, is that I have actually received a few phone calls from the other driver’s insurance company. I haven’t actually received any of the calls myself, technically, but the missus has. She gave them my lawyer’s number and told them to call him or to communicate in writing only. All on her own, too. Good girl. 😉 She’s done a great job at taking care of me and I’ve been really impressed with how well she’s dealt with it. She’s made my life much easier and, probably because they’d spent a bunch of time together in Florida, she’s getting along well with my neighbor (the one who is my housekeeper and very much a mother hen) during all of this. I can’t say that I’m overly fond of being the center of attention like this and I don’t really like being doted on but the truth is there’s quite a bit that I’d have a hard time doing for myself. (Even showering or bathroom functions can be slow and painful.)

Ah well…

Seriously, wear your protective gear. Yeah, it might look stupid. Yeah, it might be heavy. Yeah, it might be hot. Yeah, it might be more to maintain. Yeah, it might be more to pay for. Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons to not wear it. For every reason you can think of to not wear it, I can think of two to wear it. Seriously, wear your gear – and make sure you wear approved gear and not just gear that looks cool. The road will thank you for it. It doesn’t want to be covered in your bits any more than you want it to.

Driver’s Education

Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m a rather avid automobile aficionado. I can have fun driving a lawn tractor. Even at my age, I’ve been known to partake in amateur rally racing – which, other than endurance, is as close to racing as I feel life can actually approximate.

Way back when hot rodding was new they had a youth aspect and it got lots of people to stop racing on the street and to start racing down at the drag strip. The NHRA did a lot for that and Hot Rod magazine even made it all the more appealing.

What this did, that seems to be forgotten, is brought driver’s education into the light a little more. They had clubs where young folks would have to take driver’s education, have a clean record, and would have to be a member of an organization in good standing in order to participate in sanctioned events at the tracks.

The person who hit me was following so close behind the vehicle in front of them that they were unable to see. I was well in my lane when they pulled their vehicle entirely into my lane. It’s tempting to be angry and, indeed, I am pretty ticked off but that does no good. There’s nothing that the courts can ever do to him that will make me feel like we’re ‘even.’ There is not enough money or material goods on the planet to make up for this.

Which got me thinking… I’ll get to advise the district attorney on how I want this to get wrapped up and I have a few ideas, ideas which are too much to type out today but, suffice to say, they aren’t really what I think people would normally expect but people who know me might not be surprised. In short, I want them off the road until they’ve demonstrated the capacity to drive properly, with safety as the priority, and that’s a start.

Anyhow, this has NHRA and drag racing has fallen out of favor and driver’s education in the United States is sorely lacking. Today, they want something other than high speeds in straight lines. They want drifting, they want new music, they want import cars, they want tuned exhaust notes, and things like that.

How do we get the youth a place to do those things safely? How do we encourage them to use them? How do we encourage them to learn to drive better? How do we get them to be responsible and act more recklessly in controlled areas? How do we make participation in that activity seem “cool” and attractive?

Today’s cars are awfully forgiving of bad driving. They’ll prevent oversteer and reduce power to an outside tire while applying brake to an inside rear tire to prevent understeer in an effort called stability or traction control. They have dynamically adjusting shocks who put the tire patch back on the surface as quick as possible, they have a half-dozen airbags, impact bars, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, cameras, self-parking, self-moderating cruise control, and impact prevention technology built in. And they have much, much more than that.

They really are forgiving of bad driving. They’re enabling bad habits but it’s going to be an awfully hard sell to suggest taking things like lane maintenance away in the name of ensuring drivers retain their skills and work to improve them.

I’m here typing with not much more than the fingers free to move and in a bunch of pain because, frankly, the other driver is less than intelligent. Being angry with them does me no good but it does give me motivation to try to find ways to make learning to drive safely a priority and a desirable skill to acquire. There are times and places to push the envelope and find and break the limits of your vehicle. Those are controlled environments where everybody is a willing participant. Those times are not on the public roads.

How do we make it so that people want to learn to be a good driver? How do we make it so that learning is desirable? The worst part is, for me, that I’ll never get to ride a motorcycle on public roads again. I’m comfortable with my ability to ride. I’m not comfortable with their ability to drive.

Anyhow, if anyone has any ideas, let me know. We might be able to make something happen. I have some keen ideas as to what to discuss with the district attorney as concerns my individual matter but there’s more than just me – people are being killed all the time on America’s roads and, more often than not, those accidents are entirely avoidable.

To Helmets

Now that I am a bit more lucid, I want to mention my gratitude to the person that asked me to always wear a helmet. That would be my mother and she’s not been with us in a long time but, anyhow, thanks Mom.

Other than that, I’d had the missus write a quick thank you email to the folks at Caberg. They’re an Italian company that makes nice helmets. They’re not the most fancy helmets you can get. They’re not the most expensive helmets you can get. They’re in the upper-end bracket but not too expensive at all.

They’re certainly not expensive when you consider the protection that they offer. That protection is priceless.

Anyhow, she had written them an email and they responded with a request. I don’t know if this is abnormal, I suspect it is not, but they are going to give me a new helmet in exchange for my old helmet.

They want to dissect my damaged helmet and see what happened to it. I didn’t take any damage to my head other than some bruising and that was it. I’m not going to say that the helmet saved my life or anything because I can’t make that claim and be certain about it. I can say that it saved me from a whole lot of pain.

The thing is, it was not a special helmet or anything. I liked the weight and I have been known to have a lot of hair so it had a neat vent that kept my head cool. The visor was neat and could be adjusted a little so that I could let a bit more air in if I wanted and there was a vent on the top. I just listened to the salesman when he wanted to fit me for a helmet that fit. (He was the first and only one that ever fitted me for the helmet. I have no idea if that mattered. I linked to a picture in a post last night so I’ll skip that for now.)

So, I am going to send my helmet back to them and they’re going to dissect it and, I hope, they’re going to give me any data that they get from doing that. I don’t know what to do with that information – I am not a materials engineer or anything. I just think it will be neat to read and maybe learn about. If they do send that information then I’ll be sure to share it with everyone.

No, I still have not gotten to email. I will open my email up tomorrow I hope but there is a lot and it will be overwhelming. I am going to keep going with this here but I am limited to an hour of typing, total, per day right now. So, for the time being, I’ll do the updating and any coding that needs to be done but the missus (she tells me she said her name in the last post – I was asleep and didn’t read it when I posted something else – so, folks, meet the missus, her name’s Jess) will type longer posts and stuff like that for me.

I should add that I am having memory issues BUT that is not due to being tossed about like a rag doll. That’s because I don’t want to take opiates so they have me taking sedatives instead. So, the fuzzy-headed stuff is from that and not from any brain damage. The MRI machine insists there’s a brain in there and that it looks fine.

Speaking of which, the MRI thing, they actually give you a copy of your MRI on DVD. I haven’t seen it yet because it has software that it comes with and I guess it is Windows only. I should still be able to extract the images and view them in order but that’s more work than I am going to go through right now. I’m not too sure about uploading my medical records but if I find a way to extract ’em or whatnot then I’ll see if I can get some images of my brain up here. Then again, I may just be the only person on the planet who thinks looking at an image of a brain is kind of neat.

Well, my hour of typing is about up. Yes, I type that slowly now. I am sure I made some typos and whatnot. I am not going to bother categorizing and tagging. I will see about getting Jess to type some stuff for me later if we’re both up to it. Also, it’s amazingly difficult to go to the bathroom and shower like this. That’s a topic for another day.

Update

Let’s try this again, shall we?

First, let me say that this is going to be short and with very short and simple words. There is a reason for this and it will be like this for a while to come.

After my last response, the following day to be exact, I had a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and I was happy to be back home. He lives out on Rt. 16, if you’re curious. Find Rangeley, Maine on a map and then find Rt. 16. He lives to the west of my house.

It was a lovely day and the missus wanted to stay in as she was not feeling well so I figured that I would take the trip myself and I’d not been on my bike for a while.

Tourist season was also starting.

Some family, whom I still need to find and thank, were driving their 5th wheel camper to Maine where they either rent or own some property. I do not know. They were doing fine, I was doing fine.

The rest of this is something that I am not certain about but is what I have been given as second hand information.

They were being tailgated by a jackass from Massachusetts in a sports car. They had just rounded a bend in the road (see Google maps for more information) and decided to pull into the lane on their left to pass said truck and camper.

I was beside said camper at the time and the police report estimates that I was going at or a bit below the speed limit.

Newtonian physics tells me that no two objects can occupy the same space in time. There’s also a bit about mass, objects in motion, and objects at rest but I have no time for that at the moment.

I was wearing a full face helmet, chaps, and leather but my bike is (Was – I have not actually seen what’s left of it yet.) a BMW so one rides in a fairly prone angle. This is actually probably a good thing as I only bruised, badly, both of my thighs and did not break my femurs. I am, however, not too keen on walking. I somehow managed to break two ribs and crack a sternum. Oddly, I have a bruise on my right foot (shifting) and I swear it hurts more than much of the rest of this.

According to the doctor, and his poor sense of humor, I am told that, “You must have thought you were Superman and tried to punch the other car.” It would appear that I made two fists and hit the other driver, head on, at just about the roof line.

This broke both of my wrists and multiple bones in my left hand. I dislocated my left shoulder. Punching the car may have actually saved my life but I can say that it was certainly incidental – I didn’t even know there was a car behind the truck/camper. Doing so changed my directory so I didn’t go head-on into the car or through the windshield. I’m told I did damage the roof of the car quite a bit.

I am going to go for a ride tomorrow and see if I can recover my helmet and my chaps and leather jacket. They cut all that stuff off of me.

I am told that I stood up, walked back, asked if anyone was hurt, and then fell over. I do not recall any of that.

I am not dead. I am home. All is either good or will be good. I didn’t suffer any brain damage but there was some trauma. They kept me sedated for a few days – sedated to the point of comatose though not in a coma.

For those who do not know, I’m a recovering opiate addict. So, rather than prescription narcotics, I’ve mostly been relying on sedatives. Yes, yes it hurts but not nearly as much as withdrawal from shooting Fentanyl. I have a prescription for opiates (strong ones too) and I took some in the hospital but I’m trying to go without.

I went to the doctor this morning and was given permission to “Try typing, it might be good for you.” However, I’m limited to typing (per doctor orders) to no more than 15 minutes at a time, no more than 15 minutes in an hour, and no more than 4 hours per day – meaning no more than 1 hour of typing per day. I am to stop if it get to be to painful. I’ve got pretty limited motion (I’m in casts) as it is so it isn’t like I am going to do too much but, honestly, it hurts like hell.

So, I started typing this just after I got home. There is no good speech to text app for Linux that I have found. So, I started typing this at about 2:30 this afternoon. This has taken me slightly more than my alloted hour.

Pardon any mistakes and my brevity. I don’t have time to be verbose. I have a million emails to answer, a huge swath of missing time at Slashdot, and they’ll all have to wait until tomorrow. It is actually easier to type than it is to use a mouse but a touchpad is not too bad. Let’s try this…

This is Jess typing.

I can do this better than he can. I can finally type better than Dave! He says to tell you he is fine (he isn’t) and that he doesn’t need anything. He’s not worried about the bike or the hospital bills or anything. He’s sure he’ll be fine. “You can’t pierce this armor.” (He’s said that a lot.)

He’ll type more tomorrow and read any replies that he gets and will answer when he’s awake. His doctor has him taking some sedative stuff and I know he doesn’t like to take the pain pills. I think he’s in more pain than he’ll admit to but boys will be boys.

I’m taking good care of him. He’s actually gone to sleep already. He takes some fast acting sedative that dissolves under is tongue. He did promise me he’d give up riding his motorcycle but all of his friends that stop by tell me that it doesn’t count if he was drugged.

He is still asleep and I have no idea how to even make this work. I don’t want to wake him up so I’ll save this as document and try to figure out how to make this work.

He didn’t tell me what more to type this and I don’t know what to share and what he considers private. He’s said what he wants to tell you guys a few times and has wanted to try typing but it hurts a bunch. He hides it but you can see it. The doctors say he is going to be okay. They will be taking off the solid cast on his right arm as early as next week and he’ll wear some sort of brace or something. I think they called it an air cast but that does not make any sense to me.

No, we don’t need anything really. If you’ve got a God then a few prayers might be nice or wishing him well. The doctor did say that pain medication would slow the healing and Dave’s an addict so he’s not taking very much of that. I know because he can’t open the bottle by himself.

His helmet was at the hospital when I got there but I do not know where it is now. If I could find it then I’d try to figure out how to get some pictures up here.

Oh, it is like a word processor. Let me format this a little and then I will try to hit the save and then publish and see if that works.

Test.

Did this work?

Well, it is a draft?

A Cracked View of the US Constitution

It turns out that spending about 8 months “on the road” means you have a whole lot of things that need attention when you get back. I am but one person and between the small mountain of mail and the overwhelming number of emails (from just a few days) were a bit much. So, I decided that a mental break was in order.

One of my favorite places to spend my mental breaks is on “Cracked.” They’re actually pretty good and, more often than not, they’re factual. I know that they’re a humor site but they tend to put a great deal of research into their articles and have, more often than not, been spot on – as near as I can tell.

I’m a bit fond of their bits about history, as one might have guessed, and I have learned they are usually correct. I should note that the term is usually and that they seem to be rushing things more now than they did when they were still a fairly small group of people. I’ve noticed a couple of factual errors in their WWII factoids, for example, but nothing too drastic and nothing to really get angry about. I can speculate as to the reasons why and I could detail a few of them but, truthfully, I lack inclination and that would do nothing to further the thoughts I have.

This is going somewhere, it really is – gotta have faith. 😉

So, one of my favorite things to do is to listen to talk radio while driving. Given that I’m just recently coming in off the road, you can probably guess that I’ve just recently been listening to a bunch of talk radio. I doubt I need to be specific but I feel it is important to mention that there’s a particular political slant to the majority of talk radio in the American South East. I’d be remiss to not also mention that there’s a very sharp change in said slant as one moves up the coast. There is, perhaps, a bit of a border right around the D.C. line where the slant increases and the spectrum is reversed and it seems to mellow as one moves away from there.

So, what do talk radio and Cracked have to do with one another? You’d be surprised. Surprised if you’re unfamiliar with Cracked, that is. I can’t say that I’m always too keen on Cracked’s political leanings but they make little effort to hide their biases and, again, are factual more often than not.

While I was unwinding, I stumbled across this article from back in March. It’s as true and topical now as it was then. It’s titled in their usual fashion and is “6 Myths About the US Constitution Too Many People Believe.” I could add another dozen to the list but it’s a pretty good start and it raises some good points. I gave it a careful reading and they all appear to be factual and, indeed, are fairly common misconceptions. It is not, after all, a difference without distinction to point out that the US is not actually a democracy – and that you probably don’t want the US to be a democracy.

A democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner.

I think that, if it had been up to me, I’d have done what I could have to remove the idea that the State is obligated to provide you with a lawyer if you’re unable to provide one of your own. Really, they’re not. See, the thing is that it’s only for criminal matters. Unless you were charged with a criminal offense then they don’t have to provide you with a lawyer. (Your State may have added such protections and the State may also provide one free of charge to facilitate the process of arraignments/pleas in their civil courts but the US Constitution does not obligate them to such.)

So, if you go to court for your run-of-the-mill civil offense (like speeding, jaywalking, or things like that) they don’t have to provide you with a lawyer BUT they have to provide you with a lawyer (if you’re unable to afford one – as is judged by the court) for an alleged criminal offense. The easiest way to tell the difference between a civil and a criminal matter is to look at the possible punishments. If the punishment could possibly result in incarceration then it’s a criminal offense. If the maximum sentence does not include incarceration then it is a civil offense. You always have the option of providing your own council or representative, however.

Speaking of lawyers and matters of law, I’ve an appointment with one tomorrow so that we can catch up, I’ve got a few things to sign, and so that I can see what’s going on that I might have missed.

It’s very strange to be home. It feels oh-so-nice to be home. For the first time in a long time, I slept like a baby last night. (For those not in the know, I’m well and truly diagnosed with sleep issues that I won’t bore you with today.) The dog appears happy, I’ve gained two chickens while I was away, and my house was full of people until very late last night. They’ve all meandered home tonight but I have a dear old friend who will, perhaps, be here shortly.

I have *not* gotten through all of my email. It’s amazing how fast the inbox fills up. I was “off-line” for less than a week and the inbox is stuffed full – even after the filtering. Then, I have a pile of regular mail that wasn’t forwarded to me – at my request. I wasn’t expecting to be quite this much but it’s actually a whole lot of mail. I also have a half-dozen packages (that I know of) down at the US Post Office that I didn’t get to deal with today. The strange thing is that I have no idea what they could possibly be. I’ve been curious but haven’t had time to check. I wondered what I ordered? I hope I like it. I hope I ordered something nice for me. I haven’t the slightest. The only thing I recollect ordering was a phone and I had that delivered to me while I was still up in Buffalo the first time.

So, if I haven’t gotten to emails and to replies at various things – please bear with me. It’s going to be a minute longer still. This is the first time that I’ve been “on the road” for this long in a while. Usually? I might go for a month – at the most. More often than not, it’s just a couple of weeks. This time? I left on September 17th, 2015 and I returned on May 18th 2016. That’s actually over 8 months!

To put that into perspective, I was single when I left. We officially figured we’d spend more time with each other back in the end of October. I bumped into her and she just sort of stuck. Maybe she’s Velcro®? I like to say that I just sort of grew on her – like fungi. I was gone not just long enough to somehow acquire a girlfriend but also long enough so that I qualified as a resident of Bay County, Florida.

I was gone so long that I had my dog flown down to me (along with the lady next door) and then had him flown back (by himself) not too long ago. I was gone long enough so that not only did the lady next door fly down, along with my dog, but her husband flew down. As a flashback, they spent the holidays with us and spent a full six weeks there. I was gone long enough to holiday in Florida and have *both* of the kids make it to visit for extended stays. It gets worse(?) I’m told. *sighs*

I was gone long enough that I’m told I have managed to pick my old accent back up. I don’t hear it but others have pointed it out. I did spend a good portion of my life living down in that general area and, out of that time, I spent a bunch of time working/living in that same specific area. I am not too surprised that I’ve managed to pick it back up a little. It will fade away, it usually does. I have no reason to suspect this is going to be any different than any of the other numbers.

Heck, I was gone so long that I somehow (a much longer-to-write experience) now have three people living in the house in Florida. They’re still there – we are not.

Worse? More than once, I found myself calling the house in Florida my ‘home.’ No, now I’m home. It’s absolutely fantastic feeling to be home. I made it a point to correct myself (every time I noticed) when I referred to the place in Florida as my home. It is really, really good to be home.

Any similar tales? Any thoughts on the US of A Constitution? Any ideas about what other common misconceptions are? Any common misconceptions of legal matters or process to add to the list? Feel free to chime in and share it with the world.

We might not be the most intelligent but we can fake it well enough. We’ve got the “civil” part down pretty well. Now we just need to figure out the discourse. 😉

Speaking of which, I’ve set aside some time to spend taking the bugs out of the site this weekend. If you post and it gives you a 405 error then just hit refresh. For some reason, and I checked, Apache doesn’t seem to be catching the errors in the error log – making it tough to diagnose without taking more time than I’ve had to dedicate to it.

Oh yes, before I forget: If you’ve got “permissions” here (meaning things like Editor or Administrator) then you’ve got those permissions for a reason. It means that one needn’t wait for me, approval, or anything of that nature. If it means something ends up broken then that’s okay – we’ve got backups! 😀 Poke, push, pull, yank, hack, change, whatever… Those “rights” were given for a reason. I did notice one post – there might have been more, but I’ve not actually had the time to read it. Yeah, it’s that busy. It’s much, much busier than I had anticipated.

As I’d said (and as, by now, you’re all familiar with) before, I’ve taken loads of short journeys but no single trip has been this long. There’s a pretty big difference (so it seems) between a one-month trip and a eight-month trip. I even feel like I have “jet lag.”

Odd, too… I didn’t fly and I was only across one time zone. I don’t suppose it helps that I was not too many miles away from the line. I am not sure if it matters but you there’s a big difference the day’s length. I’m just above the 45° lat. (the meridian line is in the village – they’ve even got a sign for it) the house in Florida is almost exactly on the 30th. I could probably look and see what that difference is (in hours of daylight) but it will have to wait as I’ve now got a dear friend who’s stopped by. He’s never met the missus so I should probably stop typing.

Still, to close, I’m cleaning a bunch of stuff. If you’re expecting something from me then do not despair. The only reason that I’ve not gotten to you is because I’m swamped with a lot more “work” than I expected to be. Also, please be aware that Cracked can be a huge time sink. Yeah, you can blow hours at that site while having only meant to read a quick article.

I am not dead!

I am home, however. 😀 I just pulled in a few hours ago and we’ve unpacked most everything. The house looks happy to see me again – it’s also the first time the missus has been here.

I’d have posted sooner but, it turns out, I sent my laptop on ahead with some packed stuff. I bet that makes people wonder why I’d not use my cell phone instead. The cell phone was not an option.

Why? I practice good password security. Sort of… See, I don’t actually *know* my password for the site. I don’t have a clue what it is. It is either 20 or 30 random characters and mixed-case letters.

I imagine that I probably could have figured something out but I didn’t. Instead, we stopped in and visited a few people on the way back up and spent some time meandering around.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is absolutely stunning this time of year. (We did stop to say goodbye to the alligators and the manatee before we left but we didn’t see any of them on the way out and we didn’t figure we’d stop in Georgia.)

We took a side-trip out through the mountains of PA and then up to the lake and around it to Buffalo. We spent a bit of time with her family and then visited a couple of my relatives on the journey through New England.

My internal clock is screwy and it’s about 58° here which would normally be t-shirt weather but now I’m used to it being 85° outside. I imagine that will take a minute to adjust to – it usually does.

I’m sure I have a ton of email so I’ll have that to go through but that shouldn’t be too tough. Though I’m well and truly exhausted. We left Boston at about 0930 and then came up the coast, had a good lunch, and drove over from Rockland. The car’s a lovely driver though so I’m not all mashed together like I feel with some other cars.

That said, I’ve had one thing that I’ve thought about posting, and it’s been something I’ve pondered for most of the trip. For those of you who aren’t aware, I used to drink – a lot. No, not as much as you’re thinking but, rather, quite a bit more than you’re likely thinking. I was a “functional alcoholic” and would start the day off with alcohol and end the day with it as well. I did quite well at it until I no longer needed to function and it reached the point where stopping became a necessity. So, I don’t drink these days – but I have had a drink a few times but never more than two.

Anyhow, so I was thinking… You know what I miss most about drinking? The angry, drunken, ranting emails that I used to send to people. I was sort of mortified the first time I’d done it and woke up to seeing an angry reply.

Eventually, I acclimated and no longer mortified by the replies that I’d see. In fact, I kind of looked forward to them. I’d wake up, think about the night before, realize that it was kind of hazy, and giggle a bit when I made it to a computer to see what damage I’d caused the night before.

Yeah, I kind of miss those.

As an aside; I think this trip back was the longest I’ve been off-line in a while. It was kind of nice. I didn’t stay completely off-line. I visited Slashdot a couple of times but I didn’t bother logging in. I have yet to open my inbox and see what’s in there. I just might drive down into the village and stop in at the store to introduce the missus before I dive into that. (I’ve been gone since September.)

I packed a half dozen boxes and sent them ahead via USPS. I’ve only opened two of them – one to get this laptop out and to check that a few things made it through the shipping safely. Everything looks good in those two.

The missus is still looking around and investigating. I showed her a bunch of cars and we’ll go out and look around later but if she’s going to live here then she might as well get used to going around and finding stuff on her own. She’s only seen some pictures, seen a limited bit of live video feed, and had descriptions.

The dog, he came back a couple of months ago when the neighbors came home, is really happy. We went and picked him up before we came up here.

So, if you’ve sent emails or PMs or whatnot – I’ll get back to everyone ASAP. I’ll probably start by trying to do them in order but I’m ready to use triage techniques if I’ve gotta. If it’s really stressful then I’m just gonna put it off until tomorrow.

In fact, come to think of it, I’m going to meander around the house with the missus for a while, show her around, take her outside and show her the garage and shop, then we’ll go open up the storage and have a look around. Then I’ll deal with PMs, emails, etc…

But, the journey was a safe one and mostly uneventful. Good times…

They say you can never go home again. Of course you can. It’s just “cd ~/” and there you are!

Cellphone service

One of the ‘big 4’ or an MVNO?

I remember my first cellphone (circa 1997, IIRC).  A selling feature was that it could store names with the phone numbers.  A feature it wasn’t expensive enough to have was vibrate.  The cool part was it looked just like Fox Mulder’s phone.  Back then in Ohio, there were several now-out-of-business (or snatched-up-by-other) carriers to choose from (I used 360 Communications, which itself was spun off of Centel a couple years after Sprint acquired it and then shortly thereafter acquired by Alltel and finally absorbed into Verizon), with service as little as $10/mo for (again IIRC) 50 minutes (after an .edu discount) + $13/mo for unlimited nights/weekends.

Fast forward 19 years from memory lane to today and we have 4 major carriers (in the US) and about 100 MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) to choose from.

Once upon a time, I worked for Sprint-Nextel (I was there for the Samsung Instinct [featured in the TV show 24, showing many things the phone could not do – in fact, the phone was not capable of doing anything Jack Bower did with it except make phone calls] launch and the first 2 generations of Androids).  About the nicest thing I can say about this company is they introduced unlimited calling to the major carriers (when they announced they were doing it, the others followed suit).

Nowadays, you can get basic 20 minutes a month service for $2.50 (taxes included, paid every 4 months – Verizon MVNO PagePlus) or completely unlimited (speed throttled to 128kbps after 100MB) service for $20.93/mo (taxes and auto-pay discount included T-Mobile MVNO Lycamobile), not to mention completely free service (250 minutes, 500MB LTE) through the likes of FreedomPop (just be careful about overages and cramming – not for people that won’t watch it closely).

I’ve used about a dozen companies myself & I’ll post the best deals I have found below in the comments, who do you use & why (and how much you pay per line after taxes, if you don’t mind sharing)?

How to move like a geek.

QR codes – the thing every marketer uses, but no real-live breathing human being ever aims a QR reader at

Nope, not my signature dance moves (consider yourself lucky), but a household relocation.

It’s been mentioned that I am in the middle of a move, something that is consuming a lot of my free time of late; there’s a Mrs JazzLad and a whole passel of wee Lads & Lasses, so I can’t get away with loading up my Audi and driving to my destination (my first move).  Heck, I can’t even fit the whole family in my old Audi (not that I have tried, it died several years ago with over 250,000 Ohio/Michigan miles on it) to run to the store & it was a good size sedan. I don’t like to drive a truck, so I’m going to use ABF’s UPack again (used them last time I moved across country).

Last time I moved this far (~10 years ago), I serial-numbered every box and had a spreadsheet with the basic contents of each box.  Well, at least I did in the beginning.  Eventually, it got to be too much to type it in the laptop as we went (Mrs JazzLad didn’t like stopping every box to type the contents) & the descriptions ended up not being as good as I would have liked.  Then, when it came time to get stuff, having to check a spreadsheet to see what was in each box was more effort than we wanted.

Learning from my past failure, I added an interstitial step of logging everything to a legal pad.  Not very geeky, you say?  Ok, you got me.  Here’s the geeky part:

You know those QR codes – the thing every marketer uses, but no real-live breathing human being ever aims a QR reader at?  It turns out they are perfect for ‘barcoding’ (using the term loosely, technically it’s QR coding) moving boxes.

Sample QR Code

I found a site that not only makes QR Codes, but lets you insert a picture in the middle and colour the code any colour you like (with the warning that you need some contrast for it to work).  I made 201* like the above (don’t think I’ll need that many, but at the rate I am headed, I’ll use most), using a different center image and changing the colour of the codes (and the font to the right, they are the same colour) every 10 boxes* so they can be more easily identified at a glance.

Each box gets a label with a QR Code and a serial number (3 labels, 2×4″ – one on the top & one on each of 2 sides – also the labels have contact information, just in case) and a colour-coded garage sale sticker with a letter indicating how soon the box needs to be opened (C, S, M, L, V** – also on 3 sides).  If the box should be unloaded to a particular room, there is also a sticker on the top of the box indicating what room (no sticker = garage) and the boxes that have particularly fragile contents have a giant FRAGILE sticker on them (but I used these as sparingly as possible so they aren’t just ignored***).

When you zap a code with your smartphone/tablet (we, not surprisingly, have more smartphones and tablets than people in our large family), it takes you to a password prompt (that you only have to enter once – not using a password felt too much like the guy I know that wrote “Important Documents” on one of his boxes … might as well label it “Everything you need for identity theft”) and then to a simple page listing everything in that box.  I still have a spreadsheet, but we always have phones on our persons, so we can simply ‘zap’ a box to see if we need to cut into it or leave it for another day.

The original plan called for RFID/NFC tags, but Mrs JazzLad over-ruled this.

So, what interesting things have you done for a move?  Leave thoughts in the comments (and forgive me if it takes a while to reply, there’s so many boxes …).

* Box 0000 is an oversized box that got a large 5×8″ QR code label (just 1); since it is really heavy, it got a picture of Heavy in the code 🙂
** We’re looking at staying with family very briefly and then likely renting an apartment a few months before finally buying our next house; C(ar) rides in the car (firearms mostly), S(hort) gets opened immediately, M(edium) will be opened if/when we get an apartment, L(ong) as soon as we’re in a house & V(ery long) are things we can safely ignore a long time, like Christmas decorations.
*** I’m Mormon, the Amish raise barns, we load moving trucks – if I put FRAGILE on every box, every box would get the same level of care, but not the care I want my fragile boxes to get
🙂

Geek Purity Test

So, there was some talk of a purity test amongst one of the political parties a number of years ago and that always gave me a chuckle. I’ve been sort of undergoing a bit of a “Geek Purity Test” of my own but I’m not sure how applicable it will be to the younger folks among us.

At YouTube, there’s just one of many archived material from AT&T.

Now, here’s the test. Are you a geek?

Open that page and let the video playlist start to play. Switch to a different tab so that you can’t see the video. Try to avoid opening that tab back up to see what’s going on in the video.

I’ve only managed to make it through a couple of the videos without looking. I should warn you: If you’re a geek then this has potential to be a horrible time sink.