Broken Windows

Well today was the day— the big, massive roll-out for Microsoft’s latest version, Windows 10. A month or two ago I got a notification in my task bar that I was eligible for a free upgrade on July 29th. I was initially excited and surprised to see the Washington state PC giant be so kind. So I just chalked it up to rare kindness on their part.

So this morning rolled around and I saw I could install Windows 10 and made a few points and clicks and ninety minutes later— there it was. It rebooted a few times during the install, but once it let me log in I was rather impressed. My previous desktop wallpaper was still intact, but everything else looked mostly different.

Immediately I took note of the new Start Menu there at the lower-left hand corner. Clicked it and right away I was turned off. It looked like I flipped to the back of an old 80s Archie’s comic— where they sold cheap magic tricks and sea monkeys— and there were all these animated “tiles” of all kinds of crap and garbage I didn’t particularly care for.

Navigating to common items (control panel, calculator, games, accessories, etc) was rather cumbersome. I see that Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri; pretty much useless. There’s a search bar there in the Start Menu that is multi-use between Cortana “answering” something, finding a file you need on your drive and searching the web. The problem there? The results are all lumped together. As for me— I only care on finding files. If I wanna search the web I’ll open up Firefox > Google. I don’t need to interact with computer code.

For kicks I wanted to pull up Solitaire— just to see how different it would look. Searched for the usual Games on Windows and surprise, surprise— obsolete. In it’s place was Xbox. Yes, the actual Xbox interface— chock full of apps, games, movies, etc., that reminded me of the Google Play Store. I found Solitaire amongst all the crap, and even that was a headache. There’s several kinds of Solitaire in one and as of this afternoon I couldn’t get the classic version to load. Spider was there. Freecell was too. Even something called Pyramid. But guess what? They all have ads in the games now. Wanna be rid? You have to pay.

Yes, pay. Red Flag #1.

So after I farted around for a little while, and being rather disappointed, I returned to other things online only to find that my internet connection kept crapping out. Like clockwork. Started out every half hour, then hour and then three— and then I went through all sorts of troubleshooting and came to a conclusion: Windows 10 was screwing with my internet settings on my router. Incompatible for uninterrupted connectivity. I checked drivers and all were up to date, and I’m finding out tonight that there’s many companies out there— for software and hardware— that are scrambling right now to get patched updates and drivers put through to make their equipment and programs compatible with 10. So we’ll call that Red Flag #2.

So I rebooted a few times on my own and discovered that to use functions of Windows 10— you needed a login via Hotmail/Outlook/Live, etc. Luckily I have one from my very first email address ever, from 1998. When you use password protection now, like I’ve done on previous Windows versions with my own password, you have to log in with your Hotmail/Outlook/Live credentials. Red Flag #3.

After anguishing around dinner time I came and sat down and tried to do some workaround for the internet and it ran good— for 30 minutes— and then I said the hell with it. Had enough of Red Flag #2. I did some digging around and found the Windows Update portion of 10 and there, embedded amongst other settings, was the best thing I saw all day: Restore back to your previous version of Windows.

I thought about it for, oh, five seconds and clicked. 16 minutes later— I was back to being fat ‘n happy.

And yes, I understand 10 is better than 8, but guess what? I’ve long had Windows 7 these past few years. And I’m happy with it.

Windows 10 can get no love from me today— and neither Wikipedia. That article’s been locked down due to vandalism. Gee, I wonder why.

FYI: If you want to restore to your previous version of Windows— you will only have THIRTY DAYS (30) to do so from the date you upgrade to Windows 10. After that— it’s S.O.L. City, sadly.

Rain Game

A week ago I was at Angel Stadium for the first time in a few years— and wouldn’t you know it— it was the first game that ended up being rained-out in twenty years. I went with dear family friends and despite that no game was played… it really was a wonderful day.

We got there around 3:30pm for batting practice and the game wasn’t set to kick off until 5:05. It started raining about an hour before the game, but it was touch-and-go. The delay was announced and a “start time” was set for around 6:30. The rain stopped around 6pm and we waited… waited… and waited. The sweepers were out there working their fervent best.

Then at 7:35pm Angels PA announcer, Michael Araujo, came on and announced the surprising cancellation. You could literally feel, much less hear, such a response from the crowd.

But at any rate— it was a good day.

A rarity: The Tarp

A rarity: The Tarp

The whole spectrum.

The whole spectrum.

Rain sweepers.

Rain sweepers.

A personal delight— a winning level of Ms. Pac-Man was played.

A personal delight— a winning level of Ms. Pac-Man was played.

During the rain delay— a shot of the exit behind 3rd base.

During the rain delay— a shot of the exit behind 3rd base.

Tarp: At Large.

Tarp: At Large.

Before it all began...

Before it all began…

Stooge History Break

I’ve been a steady fan of The Three Stooges since July 1992— twenty three years ago around this very day. I occasionally stumbled upon them in passing back in the 1980s while flipping channels, but I never caught on and became a fan-for-life until just before turning thirteen.

I have handfuls of favorite shorts, but my all-time number-one is Disorder in the Court. Released in May of 1936, it was just like the title says and is full of nothing but trademark Stooge slapstick and bedlam. Disorder is one of the very few  stooge shorts that accidentally fell into the public domain back in the 1960s— when it’s copyright renewal was somehow overlooked. However it is possible that the digitally-colored version may be copyrighted by Sony. Then again, maybe not, if not just licensed.

In Disorder you’ll see a character pivotal to the short, Gail Tempest. She was played by dancer/actress, Suzanne Kaaren. She was twenty-four years old when she filmed her part with the stooges. In an interview she remarked on working with Howard, Fine & Howard:

What fun! ‘Disorder in the Court’ is the biggest moneymaker of all the Stooge comedies. I only did it as a lark—I had a little time when Jules White saw me dancing and said, ‘With those legs, you’ve gotta do it.’ My favorite is ‘What’s The Matador?’ I played a Spanish girl—with a very jealous husband. I had a Stooge under my bed, in the closet. It was a lot of fun. I went to the Stooge Convention in ‘91.

Back in the late 90s/early 2000s I used to be part of an online hub for Stooge fans and one day a comment thread was in full effect about favorite shorts, and I of course piped in about Disorder. A well respected member of this hub, who was tightly in with some of the surviving folks involved with the stooge shorts, sent me a message. He mentioned that Suzanne Kaaren lived in New York City and slipped me her phone number.

“Give her a call… she loves hearing from fans.”

I was shocked and surprised on many fronts, including the notion that someone of adult-age from a mid-30s short was still around at that time. When you’re barely in your early twenties— you still have a lot to learn about numbers and so forth. I was hesitant, but I dialed her up the following morning and after several rings when I was just about to hang up— a voice picked up on the other end. I asked for Ms. Kaaren.

“I’m Suzanne Kaaren-Blackmer…”

“The actress?”— I asked?

It was her. She explained that during her career she had married actor Sidney Blackmer who died sometime in the early 1970s. We talked for a few minutes about her career and Disorder in the Court and she had nothing but fond memories— much like she expressed in the interview link above.

Suddenly she appeared a little pensive, and then shared with me that she was sitting in her apartment without power. She didn’t want to turn the call sour as she was excited to hear from “such a young fan,” as she put it. Sometime overnight the power went out and she began lighting candles and was afraid to sleep with them still lit. She didn’t know what to do.

We talked for a few more minutes more and then I felt like I should do something, and while on the line with her a quick internet search showed me that her power company was Con Ed. I told her I would make a call for her and since it was daylight she felt she would take a nap. I called Con Ed, and they said they were going to send a man out. I called Mrs. Blackmer back a few hours later and all was fine. Towards the end of that call she gave me her address and said for me to write to her and she’d send me an autograph in return.

I ended up moving unexpectedly in the months just after, and lost in the shuffle was stuff in various boxes that I didn’t go through until a year or two later. I came across my notepad I jotted in during our phone calls and I was prepping to write to her, but wanted to give her a call as well. No answer. Tried a few more times over a considerable period and got the same.

Not long after her name appeared in the papers. At some point she had relocated to a care home over the river into New Jersey and she passed away at the age of 92. It wasn’t until her obituary that I learned she took on a rather large corporate giant— and given how this man acts even today… kudos to her.

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Asked ‘n Answered

This morning the president did a Q&A on Twitter under #AskPOTUS, and one questioned posed (with his answer) caught my eye…

I voted for President Obama both times and have been proud to have him as our president— but I would have to slightly disagree with his response. For some it isn’t so much with the lack of being informed or being dissuaded with a bunch of rhetoric— but rather having the means.

If you qualify under the ACA (aka Covered CA, in my state), you’re given your options of plans and how much they cost. And if you find yourself in a bind and can no longer carry a payment, and get dropped, you’re pretty much in the wind. Sometimes your local county will have your ACA case forwarded to them where you may be able to be put on something like Medi-Cal. You’re on it for a month or three and then all the sudden the county sends you a termination notice (not being a medically-indigent adult, etc).

And you reapply for ACA again when the enrollment period comes back around— and nothing happens.

So yes… it also is bureaucracy that drives people away and turns them off.


Weather accuracy— if there is such a thing. I’m a weather bug, so to speak, and I always tap into the forecast and see what’s doin’— and like most in Southern California— I’m surprised by this sudden monsoonal weather we had beginning yesterday. Rain in July? Rare, I believe. By way of the crow, shortest distance to the beach from my house, is exactly eight miles. So to see this kind of weather close to the coast is surprising. I spent three years living in Arizona (late millennium to early 2010s), and I got used to the monsoonal weather patterns in the Phoenix metro area. In fact I personally couldn’t wait for them to roll around. The mercury could be up around 110F and come late afternoon with thunderheads rolling in— the mercury would easily drop twenty degrees during a July/August rain. So yesterday afternoon when I noticed it was getting “dark” around 4pm— I also felt a change in the air. The humidity rose and so did the hairs on the back of my neck; something I hadn’t experienced since Arizona. Five or six thunder rolls and a few dabs of of sprinkles is pretty much all that happened. But the humidity…it is sticking around, especially today. So I got curious and checked the forecast… weather1 weather2 weather3Makes you wonder whose pulling which data from where. One outfit reports over a fifty percent chance while most of the others cite around twenty or so. I hold hope for the chances in the top graphic— but with my luck it won’t even hit the lower projections. But wait, wait… it’s getting dark.

Update @ 9:16PM: Not a single drop today, and much less cloud cover than yesterday.

Follow-up to the Name Game

It was interesting for me to list all my teachers and administrators from my school years the other day, and it sure sparked some conversation with friends from those days. Over on my Facebook I posted a pano-shot I took the other evening of the front of my junior high school from when I took my evening walk. Thereon it sparked a lot of remembrances and so forth and I ended up finding one of my yearbooks from Alamitos and posted our 1993 8th grade class picture.

Click for larger size.

Click for larger size.

I still know a couple of my teachers from my elementary years—kindergarten and fifth grade. Mrs. Lopez still teaches at John Adams, second graders.

Mrs. Ireys, my fourth grade teacher, passed away in 1999. I actually wrote a good remembrance of stories about her seven years ago—which you can read here. She was really great, and was a rare breed.

For my Alamitos years—Mrs. Cutler and Mrs. Donigan are still there. I reconnected with Mrs. Cutler about six years ago. She hasn’t changed and she’s still a student fave. I had her for art—and I’ll never forget Room 73. I understand that Mrs. Donigan gave up the clipboard for the blackboard—and now teaches science. Though I rubbed her the wrong way at times (not making par on the mile run)—she really was a great PE teacher. I mean that. I’ll admit that I never was much for a being a runner (save for necessitated sprints), and I find that I’m still not. I do love to walk. So Mrs. Donigan—if you happen upon this—I’ve bested my previous “mile run” of 32 minutes down to 18—and that’s walking. She’d probably shake her head at that.

Mr. George E. Malouff, Jr.- circa 1992/93.

Mr. George E. Malouff, Jr.- 1992.

And then there was Mr. George Malouff— who I had for U.S. History, 8th grade. Man, I gave that him more gray hairs than he already had. Back in the Bush/Clinton transition era I did nothing but get in trouble in his class and the man was only tolerant to a point.

“Tom! Outside!!”

Whether if I was caught, or ratted out by a fellow classmate, it didn’t matter if he witnessed what I did (or did not do), but I would be ordered outside. There against the wall just inside the door was a folded-up metal auditorium chair, complete with vintage GGUSD stenciled on the back. It was there at the ready for any shenanigan-offenders to park it outside, on the grass, along the fence under the juniper tree.

But somehow I passed his class.

Around 1998 or so one of my best friends (who was a fellow Malouff classmate) and I were at the Westminster Mall, and who would we encounter? Mr. Malouff himself. Still looked the same.  I greeted him and he didn’t appear to remember me, but he vividly recalled my friend standing there next to me. A few moments in I could tell that he was feigning in not remembering who I was and then he said it, after I gave a few “instances” from class…

“You drove me to retirement.”—and I kid you not, he simply walked away. End of interaction.

I thought he was joking, but I later confirmed that he in fact retired in 1993—at the very end of my 8th grade. That didn’t feel too good knowing that.

I recently learned that Mr. Malouff was involved in a very bad car accident in December 2013 in Huntington Beach. It was eleven days before Christmas on a chilly Saturday night, just before 9pm. He was driving westbound on Talbert Avenue in his Nissan Altima and for unknown reasons he slammed right into another motorist in a Toyota 4Runner who was heading northbound on Newland. The woman in the 4Runner was taken to the hospital, but sadly Mr. Malouff didn’t survive and died instantly.

The Mr. Malouff I remember was very passionate in his patriotism. It was a roaming legend around school that the man would shed so much as a tear at the playing of God Bless America. I remember his car back in the teachers’ lot having the bumper sticker: Abortion | It’s a Life, Not a Choice!

A 1983 letter written to Orange Coast Magazine by Mr. Malouff.

A 1983 letter written to Orange Coast Magazine by Mr. Malouff.

One of my lasting memories of Mr. Malouff was an afternoon about a month before school let out in 1993. It was the lunch hour and he had just exited the teachers’ lounge where he encountered our principal, Mr. Baird, heading his direction. The famed Warner Bros. presidential film, Dave, had just debuted in theaters, and Mr. Malouff raved about it to Mr. Baird and highly recommended he see it. I didn’t see the movie until several years later—and it’s one of my favorites.

Mrs. Cutler told me back in 2010 that my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Bass, was retiring and I made dang sure to send her a card and a note. I always liked her—despite what I semi-put her through!

As far as my Sonora years—I still know my principal. A great woman, Dr. Ranii even wrote an autobiography that I recommend anyone to get— Parakeet Races and Other Stories: A Memoir. My sophomore English teacher, Ms. Blevins, is still teaching as are a few of the coaches. Mr. Hunt, who I had for Agriculture, retired not that long ago and makes his home in Texas; we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. I did hear back in 1999 that Coach Ginny Clark had passed away, but I have not seen anything about that; I hope it isn’t true. She was truly a motivator of mine.

I think just about all my teachers and administrators at Rancho have retired in recent years. John Johnson, who was one of the assistant principals my junior year, later went back to the Corona-Norco Unified School District after leaving Garden Grove Unified. I remember the first couple days of my junior year at Rancho I saw him and he instantly was recognizable, but I couldn’t place him. It wasn’t until the third day of school during a back-to-school student assembly that it hit me. He, and other staff, were introduced and then I knew—he was my principal back at John Adams in 1984-85. I went up to him after the assembly and it was a nice reunion. I later brought in my kindergarten yearbook from Adams and I never saw it again. He later transferred to a junior high in our district and then to Pacifica High School as their principal. Last I heard he returned to CNUSD and finished his career at Norco High School before retiring. I hope he still has the yearbook, because I haven’t been able to get it back.

California Governor Pete Wilson at Lake High School, April 1997. Mr. Strecker is second from left with me to his right in white.

California Governor Pete Wilson at Lake High School, April 1997. Mr. Strecker is second from left with me to his right in white.

Finishing off at Lake High School senior year—only Mrs. Lowry is still teaching at another high school in the district. Everyone else happily retired. Mr. Gerald Strecker was our assistant principal and although serious at times— the man truly had a great sense of humor. About four years after I graduated high school he passed away. He had just finished a round of serious racquetball and succumbed to a sudden heart attack. He was a great man indeed. I should point out in that picture above with Governor Wilson is also a longtime chum of mine— James “Jimmy” Shirley (far left). He and I met in 7th grade at Alamitos and we were an Oscar/Felix type— frequent flyers as Mrs. Chips (Gereb) would say, to her office. Still know him to this day and he’s still a bro.

Never forget your school years and those who made it possible.