Friday, September 19, 2014

Go Ahead, It Won't Hurt

As Apple geeks around the country line up tonight in anticipation of tomorrow's release of the iPone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple quietly made their new operating system, iOS8, available for installation.  I have an iPhone 4sS and I wasn't notified by Apple, nor did I see anything on my phone to alert me.  It was probably there in the Software Update file, but I had no reason to check it.  I knew the new operating system was coming, but I hadn't paid much attention to the release date.

I was reading the Huffington Post last night when I came across an article talking about the new features in iOS8 and how to go about installing it.  I like new, shiny things, so I figured let's do this.  Last time there was an update I had lost a few things in the transition, so this time I did the update through iTunes on the desktop and that backed  up everything on the phone, as well as speeding up the process.  If you are going to do this update and have another Apple device, I strongly suggest plugging your phone into the other device and syncing them up.  Even doing that, when all was said and done, my entire Photo Stream had disappeared from my phone.  None of my other albums were missing, just the Photo Stream.

Today I'm browsing the Huff Post again and there is a prominent article warning iPhone 4S users to not install iOS8.  The author's main complaints were that it would slow down browser loading times and would suck the life out of your battery.  After a day of using the new system I see none of those problems.  I used the phone just as I would any other day and my battery strength seems about where it is any day at this time.  I suspect the author forgot to check all the unnecessary crap running in the background that needs to be shut off.  As The Big Guy famously advised me, "Google doesn't need to know where you are at 3:00 a.m."

So if you have an older iPhone and you want the new operating system, go ahead and install it.  Just back up everything and don't forget to turn off what you don't need running.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Full Circle

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Let’s be clear about one thing from the outset. To put it mildly, I do not do well with heights. Just envisioning myself close to the edge of the roof of a tall building is enough to make me weak in the knees. Forget airplanes. The thought of air travel makes me lose sleep. I don’t remember when this first started but I do remember a rather horrific (most would have considered it uneventful) Ferris Wheel ride with my mom at an amusement park when I was six or seven years old, a ride I’m sure she regretted taking me on the entire rest of her life.

That’s why I cannot fathom in any way whatsoever the chosen occupation of one Mr. Nik Wallenda. You might not immediately recognize his name but you’ve most likely seen him at work, since thirteen million people watched Mr. Wallenda on the Discovery Channel walk fourteen hundred feet along a two-inch thick wire suspended high above the Grand Canyon in June of last year. No net, no safety harness, no common sense. Only a twenty million dollar life insurance policy for the wife and kids, just in case. And twenty-six million eyes waiting to see if he succeeds or the other thing, something they never would have seen anyway since the Discovery Channel insisted they would only present the event with a ten second video delay — not completely live.

The list of accomplishments at altitude that Wallenda has performed is nerve racking just to read. They include hanging by his teeth hundreds of feet in the air from a rope attached to a helicopter as well as another high wire excursion directly over Niagara Falls. He has performed all of those high wire stunts you’ve seen in the circus involving bicycles and human pyramids that have delighted millions and killed a number of the members of his famous Flying Wallendas family. That would include great-grandfather (and the man responsible for the decision to perform without a safety net) Karl Wallenda.

Here’s where things get coincidental. At age 73, Karl Wallenda ran a wire between the two towers of the Condado Beach Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and on March 22, 1978 began the walk one hundred-twenty feet in the air above Ashford Avenue. He never got to the other side, falling to his death due to improper wire support and high winds. Four days later the brand new Mr. & Mrs. Big Guy arrived in San Juan for our honeymoon at the Condado Beach Hotel. No examining the street but I did spend a good deal of time looking up at the roof and wondering what possessed people to do what they do.

Two days ago Nik Wallenda announced that his next high wire excursion will take place November 2nd in Chicago, Illinois, approximately six hundred feet over the Chicago River, without a safety net, and the southern anchor of the wire will be tethered to the roof of the building built and occupied by the advertising agency where the little lady and I met all those years ago. Creepy.

I will not watch. No one should watch. It only encourages him. Just let me know when it’s over and whether that twenty million dollar insurance policy gets cashed or not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Staff Sgt. Regilio E. Nelom
Age:  45
249th Quartermasters Co.
1st Corps Support Command
Died 17 September, 2005
Asad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If The Police Tell You To Do Something, Do It

"Actually, I have no idea who you are."
Did you see Django Unchained?  Me neither, so maybe that's why I don't know actress Daniele Watts.  But Ms. Watts thinks she's recognizable and also above the law.  She and her boyfriend were in a parked car outside CBS Studios in the San Fernando Valley area of California when a 911 caller claimed they were having sex in public view.

When the police arrived, Ms. Watts claimed she and her boyfriend were just kissing and immediately blamed the cops questioning of her on her race.  Google her name and you can hear audio of the incident from various sources.  The cop never mentions race, she does.  She also plays the fame card by using a variation of the always helpful "Do you know who I am?". 

The officer is polite throughout and tells her he is there because he is duty bound to investigate when there is a citizen complaint.  He asks for her ID and she goes off on him, then walks away.  While she is being retrieved by another cop her boyfriend has a reasonable conversation with the first cop and has no objection to providing his ID.  After the incident is over Ms. Watts takes to Facebook to blast the police and claim that they assumed she was a prostitute because she is black and her boyfriend is white.

Object lesson:  When the police ask for your ID, give it to them.  When the police ask you to take your hands out of your pockets, do it.  When the police ask you reasonable questions, answer them or ask for an attorney.  Your best option is to cooperate with the police in the moment and sort it all out later.  And don't play the "Do you know who I am?" card.  They don't care who you are; they just want to do their job and move on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crisis Ahead At The Grumpy Estate

The liberal, pinko, commie, rat-bastard eco-terrorists are at it again.  Now they have their sights set squarely on the plastic grocery bag.  They claim the bags are filling landfills and polluting streams.  That they never degrade and will clog the environment for millions of years, giving off harmful vapors and gasses that will choke the atmosphere and hasten global warming, to say nothing of causing us all to die miserable deaths.

They don't even want a return to paper bags; that would involve the cutting of trees.  These assholes need to make the drive on Rt. 32 between Cincinnati and Athens, OH.; we've got plenty of trees doing nothing but holding up hillsides.  No, what they want is for all of us to carry canvas bags to the grocery to tote our stuff home.  We already do that at Aldi.  Now they want the major chains to emulate that example.

So why are my panties in a bunch over this?  I'll tell you why.  Plastic garbage bags are perfect for picking up dog poop.  At our house that usually works out to three bags a day.  We keep them after we bring our groceries home; sometimes I'll even take a few extra to bolster our supply.  I'm not buying and then taking some kind of Pooper Scooper out with me every time the hound has to go.  Nor am I carrying one with me on walks with her. 

You're thinking, what an asshole.  He doesn't give a hoot about our precious environment or the world we leave for our children and grandchildren.  You're right, I don't.  I'm only concerned with myself and my convenience.  Our children and grandchildren can figure it out for themselves.  They'll still have to deal with dog poop.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Living Large

I have discovered the perfect living arrangement for retirement.  It's the Tiny House.  Typically less than 1,000 sq. ft and usually between 120-500 sq. ft., the tiny house stresses design over size.  Every square foot of space must be utilized, leading to innovative design and space solutions.  Most are built with full kitchens, loft bedrooms and even full showers.

Most tiny homes are built on wheels and may be towed with a pick up, making them the ultimate movable home.  Building costs range from $20-$50K, making them affordable to a wide range of people.  Building permits are not required, though before you locate one in someone's backyard it's probably a good idea to check the local zoning codes.  The advantages to a tiny house are lower building costs, lower taxes, lower heating costs and lower maintenance costs.

Here's my plan:  From Nov. 1-May 1 we will plop our tiny home in my step-son's backyard in North Carolina.  Run an extension cord from their house and we're talking free power.  I'm sure we can tap into their satellite system for free TV and obviously a simple password lets us use their WiFi.  In May we will move our tiny house to The Big Guy's back yard in Chicagoland for the summer.  All the same amenities plus just a 20 minute drive to the lake shore.

We will greatly reduce our cost of living, reduce our carbon footprint, thus helping the environment, and we'll be living in beautiful neighborhoods with nice people right on our doorstep.  Win-Win for everybody.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just A Bad Idea

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Enough has already been said about former Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice, his devoted wife Janay, the National Football League, its commissioner Roger Goodell, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh to fill up an entire mini series on the Lifetime Movie Network. And I haven’t even mentioned the former head of the FBI that, as of last night, is going to do an investigation into the matter. Ignored in all of this is an organization that I sadly believe must be added to the list: Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

In recent years, Miami gave substance to its long standing “Cradle of Coaches” by constructing a Cradle of Coaches plaza adjacent to Yager Stadium on the university campus, adorned with life size statues of eight of its famous members. At the time of the dedication, six of the eight were already deceased, the other two well up in years and well past the end of their coaching careers. This seems like an appropriate time to capture the essence of these individuals in bronze, to stand in perpetuity at the place to which their coaching roots can be traced.

For reasons unknown (okay, for reasons fairly obvious to provide a name that might be recognizable to recent Miami graduates which might give them a reason to make a donation to the football program at their alma mater, since everyone else mummified in the plaza is a geezer) the powers that be decided to rush nominate, induct into the cradle, and create a bronze statue of John Harbaugh, 1984 Miami graduate and head coach of the 2012 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens. And while he may have served the cash cow purpose for the athletic department, I think there are probably a lot of good reasons why bronze statues, like postage stamps, are usually reserved for the deceased or perhaps (unlike postage stamps) those well past their prime. This week I believe Miami’s athletic department got to witness one of those reasons.

Just three weeks after Ray Rice was indicted on a charge of third degree aggravated assault for cold-cocking his gal pal, about to be his bride, in an Atlantic City casino elevator, 1984 Miami graduate and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was in Oxford, Ohio at a ceremony to unveil his lifetime achievement bronze statue which stood alongside those of Ara Parseghian, Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank. Now we get to watch him stumble through press conferences where he is reminded of remarks he made in July about Ray Rice being a heck of a guy who just made a mistake.

Note to Miami University: You couldn’t have waited another decade or two to build the guy a damn statue?   

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Cpl. Alexander Jordan
Age:  31
4th Battalion
23rd Infantry Regiment
172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team
Died 10 September, 2006
Baghdad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Name One

Our anonymous commenter from KY said last week that President Obama is going to devote his last two years to enacting stricter gun laws.  He's had 6 years to do that and hasn't done a thing.  So here's my challenge:  If this administration is so intent on stricter gun laws and taking our guns from us, name one non-felon who has had their gun confiscated.  And don't post a link to some extreme right wing nut job web site.  Give me an example from a reputable news source of anyone in the U.S. who has had their gun confiscated.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Are Canadians Less Angry?

I was thinking about shooting deaths the other day after a local homicide with a firearm.  I wondered how we compared with other Western countries in terms of homicides caused by a gun.  I figured the country closest to us in terms of geography, culture and way of life is Canada.  It is a country of about 36 million people compared to our 318 million, but even taking into account the difference in population, you are still 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the U.S. than you are in Canada or anywhere in the world.

Canada has about 9.9 million guns owned by individuals; the U.S. has 300 million.  Maybe it's the sheer number of guns available that accounts for our more violent tendencies.  Maybe Canadians are just more laid back.  Maybe they use all their aggression playing hockey.

In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, Canada had 173 homicides by firearm; the U.S. had 9,146.  Food for thought.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Holy Skillet

I will say upfront that I know nothing about cookware.  I wash it when necessary and even know where some of it is stored.  But until last week I didn't realize that a skillet could be such a special piece of equipment.

Mrs. Grumpy came home with a Lodge Cast Iron skillet.  Like I said, means nothing to me.  She acts like she has the Hope Diamond of skillets.  Before it could be used the first time she rubbed something into it and then put it in a hot oven for a certain period of time.  After cooking with it the first time I was given strict instructions to never, NEVER wash it with soap.  First it gets wiped with a paper towel, then scraped with a special spatula bought just for that purpose and then wiped again.

I forgot to mention that she has used it three times and that after each use and cleaning it is put back in a hot oven for more curing.  I expect an Indian shaman to appear soon to dance around our kitchen and bless the damn skillet.  She says it has now been cured properly and that we can skip that step.  Don't worry about me; I'm not ever touching that skillet.  I don't want to be the one who makes a mistake.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Living On The Edge

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

It’s just one of the strangest experiences I’ve had in some time. At any moment I thought the police would pull us over and it’d be off to the slammer. I still look out our front window at night to see if we are being surveilled. So far it appears we’re okay.

It’s called a virtual garage sale. You exchange money for goods with perfect strangers who you never see, never talk to. That would make it almost like a drug deal, except that in a drug deal you at least get to meet your vendor in the exchange, or so I’ve been told.

I’m really not certain how things work. Items for sale are posted on the internet. Of course, lots of things for sale are posted on the internet, like the latest Maroon 5 CD or a mail order bride from the Philippines. I guess in this case some person or group of people list items, along with pictures if necessary, on a virtual garage sale website with a contact email address. If you see something you like, you make contact, bartering ensues and a deal is struck. The location of the item or items to be purchased is divulged to the buyer. At this point I assume the seller sits back with hopes for the best.

Mrs. Big Guy has been talking about Adirondack chairs for a while now. I think it’s because they’ve been popping up on the front lawns of the homes of several of our neighbors almost as though there were some secret meeting where it was determined that if you wanted to remain a neighbor in good standing you had to have an Adirondack chair on your front lawn or risk being shunned. I think the lady across the street actually came across the Adirondack chair for two on one of those virtual garage sales and passed it along to my bride with the suggestion that we would be wise to make the purchase. And so we did.

We drove off to a home about five miles from ours in a neighborhood we had never been anywhere near. Up on the porch was the chair, just sitting there where it had probably been for the last ten years. No one home, no one around in the middle of the afternoon. At a quick glance we knew there was no way it was going to fit in our trunk. Next stop was to rent a U-Haul van and then back to the house. Still no one around. There was an envelope taped to the chair in which Mrs. Big Guy placed the agreed to amount, sealed it up and placed it in the mailbox as she had been instructed. We carried the chair down off the porch and placed it into the back of the van. I pictured the scene from Godfather II where young Clemenza and Vito steal a rug. I was sure someone would stop by, take the envelope out of the mailbox and no one would be the wiser. Some people we’d never met would be wondering who would swipe their beloved chair right off their front porch in broad daylight while we would be enjoying our neighborhood from the seat of our stolen Adirondack chair for two.

It’s been three weeks now and while I have been repeatedly assured that everything is legit I have this nagging feeling that some lady is going to show up at my front door with a two cops who will read me my rights and haul me off while Mrs. Big Guy is standing there shrugging her shoulders like she has no idea what I possibly could have done.                   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Pfc. Edwin A. Andino III
Age:  23
1st Battalion
26th Infantry Regiment
2nd Brigade Combat Team
1st Infantry Division
Died 3 September, 2006
Baghdad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lesson Learned

Back in May I wrote about my purchase of a 10 yr. old car at an auction.  I had figured on the cost of changing all the fluids once it was delivered.  Just the prudent thing to do, not knowing the maintenance habits of the previous owner.  I had inspected the tires the best I could given that you can't drive the car or move it.  The tires weren't new, but they didn't appear to need replacing either.

When I took it to my mechanic to change the transmission fluid, he called me to tell me there was something I needed to see.  That's never good.  He's two minutes from home, so I walked over to take a look.  The left front tire was separating on the inner edge, separation he thought was due to it rubbing on something.  Further inspection revealed that the left front control arms were not properly anchored to the body.  The mechanic thinks they probably were sheared off by a collision with something and then not properly repaired.  New bolts had been inserted but they were the wrong size, leaving a lot of movement and shimmy in the control arms.  A dangerous situation, as they could have come loose altogether.

It doesn't make sense to replace the control arms on one side so I gave the go ahead to replace both sides along with the ball joints.  That still left the tire situation to be addressed.  I decided to not take any chances and instead of replacing another tire every few months, to just get four new ones.  All of this being expenses I hadn't counted on.  The good news is that the handling feels like new.

The bad news?  Mrs. Grumpy is never going to let me forget this fiasco.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Out Of Touch

By now we have all seen or read about the 9 yr. old girl whose family thought it was a grand vacation idea to stop at a place called Bullets and Burgers in Arizona to get some video of her shooting a fully automatic Uzi.  The stupidity on the part of her parents and the instructor are apparent and don't need to be dissected here.

What most didn't see in the aftermath and what was largely ignored by the media was a Tweet posted two days after the tragedy on the NRA Women account.  While it has since been removed, it shows just how tone deaf and morally repugnant the NRA really is.