BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “SS.”

ImPressed

Thursday, December 1st, 2022 Alive 18,846 days

WordPress gets a lot of flack from snobby devs who like to see their names in pixels on the internet. And while Iʼm not a huge fan of the planetʼs most popular content management system, it has earned my respect.

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I recently had to temporarily transplant a WordPress installation from one server to another server to another server, along the way performing a number of upgrades to both the WordPress installation, the servers, and the content. And you know what? It all worked.

Yes, WordPress complained occasionally, but far less than I thought it would. And it dutifully updated and upgraded the content database at each step, while retaining all of the goodies therein.

So, itʼs not the best CMS in the world. There is no best CMS. But the code sure as heck is durable. Outside of mainframes and the scientific community, you donʼt see that kind of resiliency in coding very often these days.

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Thereʼs a frog in your throat

Sunday, October 16th, 2022 Alive 18,800 days

A Fortnum & Mason chocolate toad

For Halloween this year, my wife bought me a chocolate toad.

This is no cheap injection-moulded Hershey-grade nosh. This is a hefty hopper, decorated to a level of realism that is startling, if youʼre not expecting it to be there when you open the refrigerator door.

Mr. Toad is from the Fortnum & Mason department store in London. The confection connection between chocolate, amphibians, and Britannia may put you in mind of the fictional chocolate frogs from Harry Potter. The difference is those are in movies, and this is in my kitchen.

It weighs almost half a pound, and Iʼm not sure how I'm going to eat it. I have no problem biting the heads off of Easter bunnies. They look like cartoons. But this knobby indulgence has sugary eyes that look straight into your soul.

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Robble robble

Sunday, October 9th, 2022 Alive 18,793 days

Remember back when McDonaldʼs mascot was a convicted felon? Everyone knew it, and nobody cared.

Societyʼs tolerance and forgiveness has since been replaced by internet outrage.

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Waiting

Friday, September 30th, 2022 Alive 18,784 days

A man waiting on a corner in a wheelchair and hospital gown

I saw this guy from the train.

Iʼve had bad days in my life, but Iʼve never had “nobody to pick me up from the hospital” bad days.

I was feeling sorry for myself at the time, and this helped put things into perspective. Iʼm someone who earns his living doing nothing more interesting than pushing buttons for a living. My problems are minuscule compared with the rest of the world.

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Marching on

Friday, September 30th, 2022 Alive 18,784 days

An x-ray backlight cabinet in a doctorʼs office

Since x-rays are all digital now, it looks like the old x-ray backlight cabinets are being repurposed as message boards.

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Thanks for nothing

Thursday, September 29th, 2022 Alive 18,783 days

Apple Maps showing me that the local American Express office is permanently closed

Dear Apple Maps,

Please stop showing me places that are “permanently closed.” I know the pandemic ruined everything. Youʼre not helping me find whatʼs left.

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Warm fuzzy logic

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022 Alive 18,782 days

A high temperature warning from my iPhone

It's nice that iOS 16 lets people know the phone is too hot when it does things. It used to do things, but not tell you.

When I lived in the desert, just having an iPhone in your pocket or on a table could sometimes cause the phone to turn itself off. If you were lucky, you'd see something very quickly appear on the screen about “Entering thermal shutdown” or some such. A minute later, you were out in the desert without a working phone.

Apple, and most tech companies, build their products for the environment where Apple, and most tech companies, are located — San Francisco. When I talk to tech people who work at these companies, sometimes they simply cannot wrap their brains around weather conditions that are commonplace elsewhere.

Another example is iPhone wired headphones. Theyʼre made with plastic that gets brittle in the cold. Of course, when youʼre bundled up against the cold is when you need your headphones the most. That was how I learned about Bluetooth headphones, and got a set of Sony headphones for use with my SonyEricsson M600c when commuting on the CTA in the middle of the night during Chicago winters. Apple wouldnʼt make its own wireless headphones until over a decade later.

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Generational dirt

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

The CTA Red Line Chicago station

Iʼm pretty sure I recognize all of this dirt from the last time I lived in Chicago about eight years ago.

Thereʼs no reason for any CTA station to look like this, especially considering that it has fewer passengers now than in recent years.

If the CTA canʼt handle basic sanitation, how poorly run are the rest of its operations? More to the point — How are passengers supposed to feel safe, if they canʼt even feel clean?

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R.I.P. Artefaqs Corporation • 2003-2022

Thursday, June 30th, 2022 Alive 18,692 days

Today was the last day of operation of the Artefaqs Corporation.

Unless you're a low-level paper pusher at a local, county, state, or federal licensing entity, you most likely didn't notice.

Artefaqs Corporation was my first business. I started it in 2003, and for 19 years it provided income for me and my family. At first, it did quite well, and I had many clients from big-name banks to construction companies to global real estate developers. But the world has changed over the last two decades, and it was time to officially close up shop.

When I left the world of journalism, Artefaqs was my sole source of income, and it did quite well. The first nail in the coffin was the Great Recession, which started in 2007, but didn't hit me until 2008. Most of my clients disappeared overnight, or no longer required my services.

So, I pivoted. Moved the company to a cheaper state, and soldiered on. Everything was moving along smoothly, until the next financial crisis hit a decade later. By this time, I still wasn't fully recovered from the last pivot, so I ended up taking part-time work coding for another company.

I wasn't entirely happy with the company, but it helped pay the bills, and allowed me to keep a measure of semi-autonomy in my life. Still, not being able to devote myself to Artefaqs full-time meant that it couldn't grow and thrive. But that eventually ended when my job was outsourced to India.

I sent a day wandering the waterfront of Laughlin, Nevada feeling sorry for myself. Then I realized that I had two choices in life: Go work for someone else full-time, or devote myself to Artefaqs and re-build it full-time. I chose the safer road, which was to go work for someone else.

I sometimes wonder what I could have made of Artefaqs, had I pursued a second pivot. But the greater concern I had at the time was providing healthcare for my family. Working for someone else allowed me to have health insurance far better than what I could have bought on my own. So, even though I wonder, I know it was the right thing to do.

Now that I had a full-time job, Artefaqs moved solidly to the back burner and over the next few years, where it cooled to the point where the cost of keeping the company alive (about $2,000 a year) was more than it was making in revenue.

Now that it's over, I can say it was a good experience. And I learned a lot, so I don't regret doing it. Most importantly:

  • The more effort you put into a company, the more you will get out of it.
  • Everyone should start a company at least once in their lives. It is an incredible learning experience.
  • Ninety percent of what politicians say about business is wrong, either through willful ignorance, or being distanced from the actual day-to-day running of a real business.

If I ever get in a bind, or get bored, or my current employer disappears, at least I know that I have the skills to quickly start a new company, and at least try to put food on the table for my family. We'll see what happens.

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This is taking forever

Saturday, May 28th, 2022 Alive 18,659 days

Crossing the Huey P. Long Bridge in Bridge City, Louisiana
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Me mine

Saturday, May 28th, 2022 Alive 18,659 days

Amtrak chocolate mousse cake thing

Dessert tonight is some sorta chocolate mousse cake. Amtrak makes a fine sorta chocolate mousse cake. If my wife wasnʼt sitting right there, I would ask this sorta chocolate mousse cake to marry me.

Wait, I found the description:

Flourless Chocolate Torte: The perfect paring of bittersweet chocolates, topped with semisweet chocolate truffle ganache and drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

I donʼt know why it has a hole in. Maybe thatʼs where the calories go.

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Ça c’est bon

Saturday, May 28th, 2022 Alive 18,659 days

The Huey P. Long Bridge is now behind us
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Knight takes pawn

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 Alive 18,657 days

A knot of tourists watches one of their group being rooked at chess

The sign reads:

U.S. chess master
Jude Acers
Play the living legend
Private lessons

Itʼs nice to see that sidewalk chess is still a thing. I havenʼt seen it since I lived in Chicago. It makes one feel better about the neighborhood and the city to know that things that are both smart and random can happen in public.

Perhaps not so random, as there was a chess bar across the street from this scene. But still — New Orleans has a chess bar. What is this, Tyrol?

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Frame up job

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 Alive 18,656 days

Paintings in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone

These guys ran a 136-year-old hotel that inspired, entertained, and hosted scriveners like William Faulkner, John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, Anne Rice, Tennessee Williams, and got their giant oil-painted pictures hanging on the walls of the crystal chandeliered lobby.

What have you done today?

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SS

Monday, May 23rd, 2022 Alive 18,654 days

SS

SS

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Carrot cake is a vegetable, right?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,653 days

Carrot cake on Amtrakʼs Sunset Limited

I donʼt think I have ever turned down an offer of carrot cake. Amtrakʼs is a solid player.

An old family recipe made with raisins, pineapple, and walnuts, frosted with a cream cheese icing and drizzles with white chocolate and caramel sauce

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Poor little feller

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 Alive 18,621 days

A scared opossum

Not every creature of the night makes it back home before the commuters arrive. I came across this opossum cowering in a nook of One Shell Plaza.

The security guard says it happens a lot. He called someone to remove the critter, but that was hours ago, and no one has shown up. So the terrified thing cowers in the corner, intermittently shivering and hissing. Iʼd probably do the same thing, if I was him.

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Pane point

Saturday, March 12th, 2022 Alive 18,582 days

Stained glass above an entrance to a Chase building

On my evening promenade, I came across this stained glass window above one of the entrances to one of the Chase buildings in downtown Houston.

It looks like a battle scene, and this being Houston, that means itʼs probably San Jacinto, or the Alamo, Goliad. Or maybe one of the other Texas battles that are less famous and didnʼt get their own state park, tourist attraction, or flag.

There were so many battles in Texas, that thereʼs an entire Wikipedia article just for the ones fought during the Texas Revolution.

I know there are lots of plaques inside this building, so one of them could probably clue me in. But itʼs Saturday night, and Chase is closed.

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Finders keepers

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 Alive 18,551 days

A bird trying to open a plastic baggie to get to a peanut butter sandwich

I think someone leaves peanut butter sandwiches around for the homeless people in my neighborhood.

I think someone doesnʼt realize that grackles love peanut butter sandwiches, and are really quite clever.

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Your beret is crooked

Thursday, November 4th, 2021 Alive 18,454 days

The Picasso/Calder exhibit at MHF/H

If a museum stages an exhibition of Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder, youʼre obligated to photograph it in high-contrast black-and-white.

When in an art museum, do as the art students do.

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Your tax dollars flushed

Friday, September 17th, 2021 Alive 18,406 days

Rome is renowned as the city of fountains. Itʼs my understanding that Kansas City also considers itself a city of fountains. Houston, on the other hand, is a city of dead fountains.

When I last lived in Houston, the city had recently spent millions sprucing up a slice of downtown, filling it with imaginative fountains, and declaring it “The Cotswold District” in sign and literature.

Ignoring the absurdity of the cognomen, what happened after that is a typical Houston story. Nobody maintained the fountains. Today, there are over a dozen of these bulky, trash-filled wrecks beached across half as many city blocks.

I wrote to my city council representative asking what happened, and didnʼt get a response. I guess he doesnʼt need my vote.

I asked some of the locals about it, and they told me that fountains downtown are a bad idea from the start because homeless people will just use them for bathing. OK, I understand that. But the problem isnʼt the fountains, itʼs that youʼre not taking care of your homeless people. Homeless people sleep on the streets, too. Does that mean we shouldnʼt have streets anymore?

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Sew what?

Friday, June 11th, 2021 Alive 18,308 days

I bought a new pair of sewing scissors from Amazon. It came in a package that required scissors to open.

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Howʼs the gift shop?

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Alive 18,279 days

Saint Therese Mission, outside of Tecopa, California

Today, Darcie and I went to Saint Therese Mission, near Tecopa, out on the border of Nevada and California.

Its exact location is a little weird. Itʼs in one of those slices of the desert that was platted out for homesteading years ago, but ended up only being sparsely populated with a couple of trailer houses.

Itʼs my understanding that this church is popular with the Vietnamese community in Las Vegas. But itʼs a long way to drive for Sunday services.

I like it here. Itʼs quiet. It pays homage to some of Darcieʼs favorite saints. And it has top-notch bathrooms.

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Oh, to be a cat

Monday, March 1st, 2021 Alive 18,206 days

Annie being happy

Annie doesnʼt worry about money. She doesnʼt worry about COVID. She doesnʼt know there are bad people in the world.

All she knows is that she has a full tummy, and an attentive friend. And thatʼs all that matters to her.

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Saturday, January 30th, 2021 Alive 18,176 days

When rich California celebrities like Annie Lennox, who can afford to stay the fuck home, get a COVID vaccine shot, they should also be given a piece of paper with the name and photo of the 70-year-old working barrio grandmother whose shot they stole.

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Massive fail

Sunday, December 20th, 2020 Alive 18,135 days

I tried to watch mass from Saint Patrickʼs Cathedral in New York today. Itʼs on YouTube.

Google put 6½ minutes of ads at the front, plus sixteen commercial breaks inside the 50-minute mass. Thereʼs an illustration of how greedy Google and the rest of Silicon Valley is.

Next time Iʼll listen to it on the radio.

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Blue mold

Thursday, November 26th, 2020 Alive 18,111 days

Runny Jell-O

Darcie: “You made a Jell-O mold?”

Me: “Yep!”

Darcie: “What flavor?”

Me: “Raspberry failure!”

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Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 Alive 17,829 days

I will not vote for a candidate who sends me spam text messages.

That means youʼre off the list, Bernie Sanders.

Not everyone is a millionaire like you. Some of us pay for our texts.

Thanks for showing me how little you understand the finances of ordinary people and how little you respect the voters.

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Multitasking

Sunday, January 5th, 2020 Alive 17,785 days

An article from Microsystems magazine

I just came across this article about the then-new AT&T 6300 in the September, 1984 issue of Microsystems magazine.

This is the computer that West Virginia Radio Corporation made five of us share in the newsroom at WCHS/Charleston in 1995 because the company didnʼt have money for a second computer. The same machine also had to ingest the Associated Press wire feeds in the background.

This was eleven years after the computer was introduced.

I guess WVRC was a worse company than I thought.

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Nice pad

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 Alive 17,745 days

The emergency helipad at Red Rock Canyon

This is where I go sometimes after work to just sit and think. Thereʼs nothing here except a picnic bench, some tumbleweeds, and the occasional wild horse. The helipad is used to remove the bodies of the injured and dead tourists who donʼt take the desert seriously.

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2211 North Rampart Boulevard, Las Vegas

Saturday, September 21st, 2019 Alive 17,679 days

Whatʼs trashier than a couple of Smithʼs checkout girls talking about how high theyʼre going to get after work?

When one of them closes the lane youʼre standing in and tells the other that sheʼs going on break so she can smoke some weed.

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Saturday, June 29th, 2019 Alive 17,595 days

A grabby stick at the Apple Store

What do the Apple Store, and a 70-year-old grandmotherʼs home have in common?

The grabby stick!

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Recursive

Friday, February 22nd, 2019 Alive 17,468 days

A TRS-80 Model 100 running the Associated Press Mouse program

I have written down my memories of using a TRS-80 Model 100 as a journalist.

To keep it kosher, I wrote it on my TRS-80 Model 100.

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Sunday, November 18th, 2018 Alive 17,372 days

An error message on the Library of Congress web page

If the Library of Congress — the federally-funded keeper of all the nationʼs facts and secrets — canʼt keep its web site running, what chance do I have?

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Sunday, July 22nd, 2018 Alive 17,253 days

Today I left the house because the cat was being an asshole.

It may be time to re-evaluate how I rank around here.

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And then he runs into the living room

Monday, July 9th, 2018 Alive 17,240 days

There should be a word for when youʼre taking a leak, and the cat walks between you and the toilet with his tail raised high, and you end up peeing on your own cat.

I mean other than “Eeeeew.”

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Sunday, July 1st, 2018 Alive 17,232 days

We all wanted to grow up to be Dr. Johnny Fever or Venus Flytrap.

We ended up being Les Nessman and Herb Tarlek.

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