The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

November 2009
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It Was A Good Thanksgiving 2009
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 5:07 pm

thanksgiving vacation

It is dull, cold and drizzly outside. It is not a good day to end a four-day Thanksgiving weekend. But the Thanksgiving meal itself was good this year: Turkey, dressing with gravy, mashed potatoes with butter, and corn.

The day after that I put up my XMas tree. It is a plastic pine tree, only a meter tall, but it fits on a table in front of my living room window. I draped it with a rope of silver tensil, some silver ornament balls, and a silver star — all plastic. No, the plastic tree is not a real one; but I have nowhere to put a real XMas tree, and my cat (any cat, for that matter) would climb a real tree and knock ornaments off. Anyway, I am impressed with my humble XMas tree.

xmas shopping

My XMas gift shopping is complete, much to the distress of whoever hears me say this. Really, though, I started early this month. The gifts (except for one relative, whose gift is on its way from Amazon) are now wrapped and labeled. I even got a gift for exchange at the annual meeting of the Fairmount Library Friends this coming Saturday.

As if in irony to all this, this Sunday’s Cathy comic strip expresses this very event. Cathy is all ready — for the XMas shopping craze, while her hubby is already — done! Cathy did not take that well: The next moment, he’s in a shipping box, she is calling to have him shipped to a different ZIP code for the rest of the year.

clutter cleanout

My rummaging for ideas on who to give whom compelled me on this past Saturday to do something that I ought to have done for some time. That needed task was to clean up the upper room, which has books, optical disks, and papers all about. In the end I did clean out my file cabinet by shredding all my pre-2009 bills, as well as clean off a table, which I then set up as a writing desk. But the room itself needs a lot more work. I have papers, momentos and assorted junk of the past 40+ years that I need to sort through.

Where did the compulsion come from? I was looking for the May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports because it had ratings on food processors. I could not find it in the end. The local library, where I went to have a document laminated, did not have it, either. In the end I dropped the idea on being told that the intended recipient is up to his nose in food processors.

hen & duck

the hen

I have mentioned the hen and duck in my last entry. Back in the end of July my sister the editor wrote about the hen. While the bird belonged to my folks’ next-door neighbors, but it likedthe bush under the folks’ family room window a lot better than its own coop. What my sister did not mention, because nobody knew at the time, was that the hen was using a hidden niche under that same window to lay her eggs.

How the discovery came about:

  1. Madre found one egg under bush.
  2. Someone commented that it cannot possibly be the only egg.
  3. Search for more eggs began.
  4. I found cache with more than two dozen eggs in niche.

Next-door neighbor was informed of hen’s productivity and given the eggs. Their hen, their eggs. Of course, given that it was summer, the eggs were no good.

Since then, the hen had vanished in the choas of the village festival, Museum Days. The folks’ neighbors have replaced her with another hen — much larger, darker colored, and not as friendly.

the duck

The hen came with a mallard duck, whom everyone calls Timmy. Like the hens Timmy walks about the neighborhood, hides in bushes, digs for bugs and seeds with its bill, and takes juicy white dumps on the sidewalks.

The duck seems to like me a great deal, probably because I provide it with clean water for it to drink and to clean its bill. It even lets me pet its feathers sometimes.

Yes, I have petted a duck.

And yet, I have to be careful when I walk in the folks’ yard, so that I do not step on the duck. The duck has a habit of waddling in front of me, pecking at my shoes and pants legs, and even sitting on my foot.

I am a little concerned about their fate, especially the duck’s. Mallards are supposed to migrate south for the winter; but Timmy is too domesticated to know to do that. I do not know whether either can survive the winter.

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Mid-November 2009
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 1:42 pm

I have had to work during the past three Saturdays this month. The work almost totally involved the Macs.

First, students could not print without logging on again. Then, a missetting on the iMacs’ workstation manager slipped past me, locking up the iMacs on Sundays. Finally, I found the right mix of scripts and apps to make the computer availability system (a service to let students know which computers are available) work on the Macs. For each of these I spent a Saturday morning working on the iMacs in the Reference section, because these are too busy on weekdays to work on them. I used some of my off-time to visit the dentist.

Veterans Day is also Madre’s birthday. With her birthday card I got her a foldout card of native wildlife, so that she can better identify what wanders about in her back yard. The folks’ house is only a block from the business district, and yet all sorts of animal life walk about the yards and streets of the town. I have seen possums, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and hawks. Their latest visitors have been a mallard duck named Tiny Tim and a chicken who follows him around. Well, two chickens in succession. The fowl belong to the folks’ neighbors, a couple of arts-and-crafts types who have decorated their house and yard with antiques and antique-like kitsch. The neighbors do not seem to know how, or seem to expend enough time, to raise the fowl, so little critters end up escaping their coop and frolicking in my folks’ yard. From time to time I replenish the water the folks leave for the fowl. The duck seems to like me, or at least have this thing for pecking at my shoes.

The folks’ neighbors seem to be locus from which disseminate barnstars. I do not know what those rusty metal stars have anything to do with the native culture where I live. I have never seen them on any house or barn until sometime after 2000. Then they started appearing on houses all over the place. That is so dumb. The nearest Amish community, who would supposedly hang them on their barns, is fifty miles away in Adams County. The barnstars are a home-and-garden fad like those concrete goose ‘gnomes’ that were very popular a decade ago and which I still find in some yards, all dressed up depending on the holiday or season.

I typed this entry on one of the library’s workstations. I do not like to use them. There are all sorts of programs loaded on them, requested by the university’s varied departments. Having to load the configurations of all those programs makes a workstation very, very slow to launch after you log on. Worse, none of those programs are of any use to me. I have to use a licensed version of TextPad 3 because it works from a thumb drive. I have to visit the Microsoft site to download and activate ClearType, so that the Microsoft “new” fonts like Consolas are legible. I also have to download and install Paint.NET. In short, Microsoft’s default utility programs are such trash that others have write improved programs (TextPad, Paint.NET, and AZZ Cardfile for the old Win3x utility) to replace them.

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Hectic Indian Summer 2009
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 10:17 pm

yard work

I raked the back yard once more. It was about eight in the evening, and already dark, when I finished the last batch of leaves from the maple trees. They are quite bare now. And their leaves, which I piled up along the street, have been vacuumed by the town street department. Later I gave the lawn one last mowing before the warm November days come to an end.

sick kitty

Speaking of my sister’s cats, I lend her my cat carrier, so that she could take one of her cats to the vet. The cat, whom I call Chitlin, is her oldest cat now. I knew him when he was a very active kitten back in the mid-1990’s. Anyway, the cat turned out to have a mouth cancer, which hindered his ability to eat. I do not know whether the tumor was removed, but my sister has to feed the cat via syringe for awhile. I visited the ‘patient’ last Saturday. It was one freaky looking cat, with one side of his face all swollen; but Vickie is giving him pills that should reduce the swelling. Otherwise, Chitlin is his happy, purring self.

ĉe la dentisto

I got my teeth scraped and fluorinated for the next six months. It was more hectic than usual at the dentist’s because he had to break his schedule to treat a little girl, who ran into a metal pole and busted her three front teeth. The strange thing is that the girl did not cry when she was examined, shedding only a single tear when the dentist tested a tooth to see if its root was still firm. I myself, at the girl’s age, would have cried. That is some brave girl!

pricer notepads

I realized that I was running out of those Levenger notepads with the annotation columns and the headers, so I bought two more packs of them. I used to be able to buy five pads per pack. Now the packs have three for the same price. Levenger is falling on hard times, evidently, when it cannot even provide cartridges for the pens it used to sell. I had to go to another pen-and-ink site for more cartridges for my Lamy fountain pen.

à bas Comcast

My folks switched over from Comcast to Frontier this week. The switchover includes satellite television, with a dish antenna that was placed on the southwest corner of the garage, near the door. During my one visit since the install, Madre was thrilled with the choices she now has on the three-month trial, including a view of the Earth from the satellite itself. I myself am impressed by the greater variety of channels they now have for the price they have been paying Comcast.

This leaves only my sister the teacher with cable television. My sister the editor dumped it years ago, and I gave it up early this year. Indeed, it seems that a lot of people in town are giving up on Comcast, either getting satellite television or having antennae erected.


A cat may look upon a king. As if the king has a choice: Cats, being what they are, may look wherever they want to look. Indeed, they can just as easily look up your skirt! That is such a stupid quote.

I am looking at the Gnomologia, a collection of sayings collected by one Thomas Fuller in 1752 and said to be the source of the sayings in Ben Franklin’s Poor Richards Almanac. It is the source of most of the clichés in our own speech. I have noticed that the gnomological formula A φ may ψ is better translated today as Even a φ can ψ; so that the phrase above comes out today as Even a cat can look at a king. But it is still nonsensical.

This saying makes more sense: All cats alike are gray in the night. Unless they are black to begin with, then they are invisible but for their eyes. Anyway, in a different language and form, it is the motto of my sister the editor’s blog: la nuit, tous les chats sont gris.


The installation of the new iMacs in the Reference area two weeks ago did not go as smoothly as they seemed. But I fixed the problems that cropped up, and the iMacs now work as intended.

There are only two major differences in the new imaging of the iMacs.

Any other changes are upgrades to existing software.

The result of all these changes seems to be the disappearance of the Active Directory fix. Last Friday, two weeks after I have ran the dsconfigad -passinterval 0 (extending the Active Directory password indefinitely) on the reference iMacs, users reported being unable to log on them. In the end I rebound the iMacs in the traditional way, but I am not looking forward to having to do this every two weeks. Something changed in the way Active Directory is handled on the campus servers, as I have found nothing in the Apple updates to indicate a change in Active Directory.

acsp test

A couple of Wednesdays mornings ago I took, and flunked, the Apple Certified Support Professional test. I went to the test center inside the Ivy Tech Marion campus. After a few preliminaries, like showing two photo ID cards and signing my name a few times, I got on with the test. I wore ear plugs and headphones at first; but I had to remove firs the plugs and then the headphones, as the room was getting too hot and the background noise was more bearable than the noises in my head.

To make a two-hour test short, I can’t reveal the details under the terms of the test, but I did fail — getting a 62, below the pass threshold of 73.

I did badly in install/config, user accounts, network config and peripherals. I know I was getting stuck with FileVault, Keychains, account recovery, network configurations and Print Utility. I have never had to deal with any of them. I do not work with Mac staff workstations, where these sort of things mattered. I work on public Macs, where students are not supposed to monopolize the workstations, and any problems disappear with a reboot thanks to Deep Freeze.

I plan to retake the test in December, and will read up on my deficiencies to get a passing score, now that I know where I am ignorant.

oh, noriko!

The singing talent of Sakai Noriko graced such animé as Gunbuster and Video Girl Ai, especially the latter, whose manga author was a big fan of hers. And it is easy to understand why: Ms. Sakai is pretty, engaging and talented enough to branch off into acting later in her career. Alas, that was in the 1990’s.

I have found it hard to believe when I saw the BBC feed headline Japan pop star trial draws crowd, and followed the link to discover the pop star in question is — wha? you’re kidding! No, you are NOT kidding! Ahh, why her?

Yes, that pop star was Ms. Sakai, now on trail on the charge of drug possession. The State wants to plug her into a cell for eighteen months; Ms. Sakai, if she ever makes it out of the courtroom, wants to give up acting altogether and start a new career in hospice care.

Perhaps it is just as well. Ms. Sakai is pushing forty. While she is still lovely, her features are not as smooth as they once were. Neither, evidently, is her stamina as in her youth, hence the need for the uppers she was caught with.

What has surprised me is that all this has come about for the past several months — it was during August when Ms. Sakai fled, causing a media sensation in East Asia, only to surrender herself to Tokyo police — yet I had discovered this only a couple of weeks ago.

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