The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

October 2008
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Class Reunion
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 3:24 pm

This past Saturday was my high school class reunion at a restaurant in Marion.

In high school I was a lot thinner and I had more hair and I could drink Pepsi Cola without my pancreas raising a fuss. I was also the class geek: I kept to myself, focused on my classwork, associated with few people, and was the target of torment by the alpha babes in my class. (The alpha dudes left me alone.)

Nor could I seek refuge in front of a computer. Back then personal computers did not exist except in kit form, which I did not know existed; and timesharing systems like DEC PDPs were restricted to places like Purdue and Ball State.

Thirty years have past. A lot of my classmates are dead, mostly from natural causes, one or two of them by murder. Many of them might as well be dead, because they have scattered all over the country and will probably never return. Of those who are left, only a couple of them are remarkably well-preserved. The rest are some permutation of grey-haired, saggy, and fat. Some have lost so much of their hair that they now shave themselves totally bald. And almost all of them are unrecognizable because I remember their forms in high school — forms they have, um, transcended some time ago.

Anyway, I put on a suit with optional tie in the jacket pocket, and drove down. The restaurant was originally a mill along the river; it had its good and bad times, but was recently remodelled into a decent place to eat. I was one of the first to show up, even though I was fifteen minutes late.

In the end a couple of dozen people showed up. Some of them I did not recognize at first for reasons noted above. Also, I did not recognize some of them because I never associated with them when I was in high school, so I needed the helpful display of high-school pictures near the door to match names with faces.

Most of the attendees have jobs that have been knocked around in the current recession, while they have trouble accepting that there is one. I learned from one, a building contractor, that wood is more expensive now, partly due to the recession and partly from people in Katrina-hit areas hogging it all. That means if I want to replace my deck I will have to pay out mucho dinero.

I will mention one of my classmates by name, Judy Pettit, because I did not recognize her at once. I do not associate Judy with blonde hair or pink jackets. Evidently Judy dyes her hair like my sister the editor, but chooses conventional colors. She normally hangs around with Anna Justus; but while I see Anna a lot (she helps run the Giant Bar & Grill, where I get my Thursday night takeout), I have not seen Judy for a long time.

The buffet-size meal itself consisted of chicken or roast beef so thinly sliced that it looked like some sort of membrane, boiled Russet potatoes, green beans, dinner roll with some kind of cinnamon spread, and my choice of thick chocolate brownies or some kind of melon salad.

Afterwards we gathered together for the group picture. The digital camera they were using did not have a wide-photo lens, so it looks like they will have to do a composite before they submit it to the News-Sun, the local paper. (Whether the News-Sun will take it is problematic.)

The problem with reunions like ours is that it takes a year to plan and to contact ex-classmates, so that they can plan ahead to take the time to come. The usual planners tend to start one or two months before the reunion date, and they are jamming the planning on top of their regular activities. That is why the last two reunions (this year and 1998’s) kind of flopped.

The one in 1993 was much better because it offered the choice of get-together, picnic, or both. The get-together was a bomb, mainly because the DJ they hired did not want to play music from the 1970’s — and I don’t blame him. I attended the picnic on a farm in Blackford County, and this is the much better of the two.

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Mid-October Stuff
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 10:18 pm

Today was a Yard Day, meaning that I was out raking leaves, mowing the lawn underneath them, and doing other stuff.

Normally I would rake the leaves to along the street; but I read in the local paper that the town will not break out the leaf-sweeper for another two weeks to due the cost of fuel. That means I have to bag the leaves if I want to be rid of them; there are now five bags on the side of the road.

Yesterday I got some blood work done for my doctor. That caps a hearing test (my hearing’s okay) and a flu shot on Wednesday.

Then I drove to Fry’s to buy a video cable to connect my backup computer to one of the television’s HDMI ports. The result is a much clearer picture than the VGA port could provide. I also bought my first gamepad; I never used a gamepad before, and I am still getting used to it. No matter how comfortable the gamepad feels in my hands, handling it is not like working a keyboard and mouse or even a trackball.

Friday was Ball State’s fall break (which is only one day for some reason), and I used the relative absence of students to remove the iMac G5s in the Reference area and replace them with new iMac Alums. There were eight of them, and it took all day to prep them because I had to install four different programs that cannot be put on a hard-disk image and to set up the five Reference printers.

I also installed a new printer in the Science Library with minimal difficulty. While I was there the Science Librarian told me that guest computer accounts were available from the Science Library counter. Then why can’t my sister the teacher get them? It turns out that my sister can visit the Science Library only on the weekends, when the Science Librarian is not there and when the student at the counter defers to the circulation counter at the main library. And if they say no, then that is it.

This finished my Mac reimaging project for this fall. Next, I look into upgrading the print job release stations, probably before the aging Gateway Profiles used as such get replaced.

I have been working with Gateway computers, both at work and at home (I owned a Gateway once), since the late 1990’s. I liked dealing with Gateway technical support, and I thought that the Gateway ads were cute. But Gateway really sank after the crash; it never became a favorite among techies (who can build their computers from scratch); and its foray into consumer electronics, while a moderate success, failed when it pulled out in fear. In the end Gateway sold itself to Acer (the crappy-computer and stinky-rose-ad-in-BYTE folks), giving up its institutional computer unit to Micron. That is pretty much the death of Gateway; I will miss it. Nobody at work will, though: After months of delay with an order of workstations from Gateway/Micron, my unit switched to Dell.

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Library Week
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 9:35 pm

It has been a long week.


At work I reimaged all five of the new MacBooks. They’d head into circulation if they were properly inventoried; and until they are, they are not going anywhere. Same for the new iMacs, which I finished an image for; but I hope the inventory numbers arrive before the Friday of next week, when I plan to deploy them.

The Architecture Library finally gets its new printer. Unlike the last time the printer, its driver software, its print job release station, and all the workstations in the branch worked out well. I did have trouble with printing from the laptops; but instructions from the fine tech folks at PrinterOn got that fixed.

local library

In town I attended two local library meetings on back-to-back days: The Friends of the Library on Tuesday and the Library Board on Wednesday. Both had the same theme this month: The new library. It is not surprising, since our librarian had closed the current library when the Internet connection was moved from one building to the other.

During the past week, most of the books have already been moved over or boxed up ready to be moved. During this past Saturday almost the boxed books, most of the shelving, office equipment and computers have been moved, too. The process has taken all morning and much of the afternoon, especially since the shelving is unweildy. The Gas City librarian and a cadre of teen volunteers came over and helped set up the childrens section. The tall signpost outside the new library is painted, and the sign itself has been hoisted.

The current library will serve as a meeting room and genealogy section. It also holds the reference books until such time as the librarian finds a place for them in the new library.


It has been either cool and dry or, more recently, warm and dry. The common word is dry! The rainless weather has been speeding along the turning of the leaves from green to various warm colors.

The grass has not grown much in the over two weeks since I mowed it last. So, there was not all that much to mow. More leaves fell, and I stuffed them into a yard bag. The town has yet to deploy leaf sweepers.

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Autumn of Discontent
Filed under: General, Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 10:19 pm


I was raking out the first fallen leaves of autumn from under my tree, when some guy walked over to me with a flyer in his hand. He and his colleagues had just finished trimming the overhanging limbs from the trees of one of my neighbors, and offered to do the same for my maple tree out back. I accepted; and three hours and $150 later, my tree has been trimmed of its lowest limbs — those that smack me in the face when I walk across the back yard. The tree looks a little better overall, even if I can now clearly see all those dead limbs inside the foliage.

I have cut down the goldenrods for the year, now that their flowering phase is over. That’s two bags of yard waste ready for Monday pickup.

Now I plan to remove and stack up the bricks that make up one of the two paths from my back deck to the court, where I park my car. The path is overgrown with weeds and grass; and since I don’t use it all that much, I intend to pull the bricks, weed the path, and plant grass there. I will also use that bag of winterizing fertilizer/weedkiller, that my folks gave me last year.


At work I have been working hard to compile a new edition of the Mac Computer Installation manual. I use this to help me when I install, and to let others know how I install, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), and the applications that the library makes available to its users, on which models of the Mac.

For non-Mac users, Macs come in two major models, iMac desktops and MacBook (formerly iBook) laptops. The hardware inside a Mac changes from time to time. When the earlier Mac OS (Tiger) was in use, I had to install different versions of some software because one version would not work on one Mac hardware setup. Leopard changes that: I am use one version of any software for any Mac because Leopard can compensate for the hardware on the Mac. That, and its other featuers, have made Leopard worth the long wait until I got in my hands and until I can install it on all the Macs that can handle it.

I am also hammering out the manual in order to figure out any mistakes I am making that have caused recent problems for the Mac users. I have had to remove Adobe Reader, for example, because it has been demanding administrative access every time a user launches it. Nope, that won’t do. It turns out that Adobe Reader is trying to update itself. That will be turned off before Adobe Reader is brought back.

I have been thinking that, with all that work I have put into the library Macs since I started work in the library, maybe it is time to take the test for the Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) certification.

wall state gets its lollie after all

I had hoped that the House of Representatives would stick to their original votes despite the Senate adding to the Wall Street love packet bribes — bribes that would not affect the average citizen or halt the coming unavoidable recession.

Yes, I, too, am susceptible to the bites of Elpis, the ancient spite of blind faith. And Elpis, as she always does, has let us down. The House passed that lying piece of work, and El Dubya signed it into law.

At least I have the satisfation of knowing that my congressmen (in the districts where I live and where I work) have stuck to their principles and voted against this bill.

The love package is not going to fix anything. It will simply pump more money into the market out of the Federal electronic printing press. Given the crappy way the American financial system has been handling money and debt — the reason for the financial crisis — our foreign debt buyers in China and Japan might not buy anymore. And the resulting inflation will make our savings worthless. And the bailout will not stop that recession that is already in Indiana from spreading throughout the rest of the country.

It is going to be bitter days ahead, no matter who gets elected President.

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