Sunday, December 25, 2005

Firefox Or Fried Lox?

What is up with Firefox? I've used the incarnations of this browser for years... I once preferred Netscape to IE, did Mozilla, then Phoenix, finally settled in happily with Firefox. Happy through 1.0 that is. I can't even tell you how disappointed I am with 1.5. It took a lot of work to get Firefox to a point where it has consistently been recommended over IE. One kludge like this though and... well, people have short memories and very little patience these days.

It's sad that the extension I use the most now involves clicking the button to "View this page in IE". And I've even used the "Always view this page in IE" choice. I don't know what happened. I don't care. And much as I love the open-source community, I just want to say "C'mon people. Get it right or leave it alone. Yer acting like all the major slop-ware players when you distribute something like this."

My friend installed it and said he regretted it right away. Thought he might have put viruses on his computer. I said "well I put it on one machine and I like that you can move the tabs around". So I went ahead and installed it on my work machine. Should have known better. Movable tabs just ain't enough. I wanted to keep my other version installed (just in case) so I gave FF 1.5 a new directory. Trouble is I didn't create a new profile for it. Nearly all my extensions (those that even worked with the new engine) needed to be updated. So guess what happened when I went back to run the older Fox? Extensions not compatible. I don't feel like running around the ring so for the time I am enduring. But not for long I'm afraid. This is the first time I've been able to use Microsoft software and actually feel like it's running 'clean'.

I've been noticing a certain amount of snobbery among some elements of the Mozilla clan and the CSS exclusivists. "Code written for IE isn't clean. The reason some stuff doesn't render in Mozilla is because it doesn't conform to the pure standards and specs set forth by the Holy Overlord of the Internet." And as badly as I want to write clean code, I've found many things work easily in IE but I have to jump through hoops to make them right for Firefox. I guess pure is also associated with difficult as in "if it's too easy it must not be right".

Well, looks like I'll hafta re-install Java again. I've done it once already since the upgrade and now my web host can't see it again. It works in IE though... every time. Same goes for the post editor in the blogger dashboard—none of the formatting buttons or tabs is showing, but it’s fine in IE. That just about does it. See ya back in 1.0. This stuff needs to ferment for awhile.

Traditional In A New Way

It's officially Christmas day now and I have "The Christmas Story" providing my background as I write. I don't know that I've ever watched a movie as many times as I have this one. Not watched through and through although I've done that too. But every year TBS seems to run a 24-hour marathon featuring this movie and I'll let it play on between naps and anything else I happen to be doing. It's just a classic and one of those few flicks I can stand to watch more than twice.

Christmas has traditionally been a rather depressing time for me, especially the lean years when I haven't had the funds to give proper gifts. But when I reflect on past Christmas days many fond memories roll in and most of them are from a youth that was immersed in a culture that almost seems alien now. There was the anticipation and exuberance brought on by the Santa of course. But the 'reason' for Christmas was strongly stressed in my childhood. On those occasions when we were allowed to open a gift or two on Christmas eve, we first had to endure another reading from the Bible, retelling what we heard countless times in the weeks leading up to the big day.

Not that this was a bad thing. Now, more than ever, I can appreciate the wisdom and values that my parents tried to instill in us. And I treasure all the old pre-Christmas services as well. What I miss these days more than ever is the old candlelight program that the choir put on every year. With the lights dimmed, the entire evening was focused on the music. "Carol Of The Bells" is one that I can recall at any instant; others strike a chord when I hear them but I would be hard-pressed to name many of them. Of course, when I was still a kid, I was more interested in the little paper lunch sack that were handed out as we left--it would include an orange, maybe an apple, walnuts, and a modicum of candy (probably Kisses or Tootsie Rolls).

Which finally brings us to tonight's sermon. I was working earlier and the TV behind me was doing its mindless thing when I started hearing a bunch of Christmas hymns. Being the bright guy that I am, I figured that it was a local church production. Some of the songs were a little jazzed up, some even seemed a little butchered, but oh well... many music directors these days try to spice things up and update traditional music to fit with today's tastes. Maybe appeal better to youth. So give it your best shot people.

I finally decided to sit down though and see who it was. And it was no choir. It was glam shots of celebrities, many celebrities, and seemed to be taken at some award ceremony (or ceremonies...I forget which... I'm not good at keeping up with those events). But these stars were posing, preening for cameras and generally indulging a public that can't get enough of them. And I thought at that moment it was the most revolting display of misplaced values that I've ever seen. Talk about celebrity worship, talk about your idols and false gods. Of course I know that it's not right to blame the famous. It's not even right to blame the producers and TV people. All they do is try to satiate the appetite of a giant mindless mass. But it's numbing just the same

Now I know God has a sense of humor so I don't know: you think he can laugh at this? If I were Him I'd be pissed. And I'd be thinking "This is just about may be time to wrap things up".

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Man Thinks He's Nostradamus

I’m gonna do something that I wouldn’t normally do. Probably at once the first and last time that I do this. But my lady keeps telling me I should be an announcer because I frequently make calls before the sports analysts on football and Nascar telecasts. Now of course I shouldn’t be an announcer--at the very least you must be able to talk to do that. My predictive skills involve a little sleight of hand born from years of experience watching. One trick is a familiarity with a particular announcer’s style. Another comes from the predictability of the sports themselves. Flag in the offensive backfield? Offensive holding. Flag on a return? Illegal block in the back. Crash in the third turn? Jimmy Johnson did it.

Now there may have been a couple of instances when I was really astute or really lucky but I’m not quite the expert I may have led her to believe. That’s not going to stop me here. The prognosticator is at work. Formulating my theory before my views are warped and corrupted by the Houston sportswriters. Because I think I know what they will be saying and I doubt that the reactions will be favorable.

The Texans have hired Dan Reeves as a consultant. I like it. You see I was afraid that Dom Capers would take the full hit on this one and I think the blame lies a little higher. In my view this at least gives him a fighting chance. Now I don’t know how much influence he’s had on personnel decisions—if his opinions have directly accounted for all the Texan’s player moves maybe he should shoulder a greater share of the blame. But while I’ve never been a fan of his style of team I see a lot in him that I respect. He works hard. He doesn’t badmouth his team. His players seem to like him as a man if not a coach.

Reeves is going to be evaluating players and making suggestions. How will his observations line up with those in place among the current front office? Charley Casserly cannot feel good about this. Who’s opinions will be valued more—the man who’s been involved in 9 Super Bowls or the man who’s team is 1-12? I’ve experienced this type of thing first hand. You bring in someone from outside and tell your department head “This is not a demotion. We want to help you.” It is a demotion though. You don’t hire a man who commands the kind of money that Dan Reeves must bring to be a consultant. Yeah, I know, a six-week commitment. But you are Casserly and you are the one the boss confides in. It’s not a sign of confidence when the boss need another set of eyes. My feeling? If I was Casserly I would resign. Bob McNair is giving him an “out” and that’s the kindest way to put it.

So Dan Reeves will be the next GM of the Texans. Probably in time for the draft. And should his vision not mesh that well with Capers or the team not show drastic improvement by early next year, than Dom is on shaky ground too. Dan Reeves would probably consent to double-duty as a head coach with a lot of authority over player transactions. I like to think that two classy guys like Reeves and Capers could get along, Dom doing the coaching and Dan making all the personnel calls. But neither of them will be consulting Casserly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gettin' Busy Widdit

I’ve been gearing up. Forever. I’ve been trying to figger out what I wanna be when I grow up for 40 years. My mantra has always been “Life is what happens while we make other plans” (Tommy Smothers [on Late Night With Johnny Carson] is the first person I heard say that so I always give him the credit). Well Dodge is changing! And I’m outta time.

The way I usually view it is: I don’t post because I’m writing larger works (in my mind and in assorted scribbling and notes). I’m working on diatribes. I’m making novels. Writing screenplays. Extrapolating wisdom from journals full of collected notes to myself. I just have to go dig them out and polish them off a bit. If I wrote it down it must have been important so it will always be relevant. In fact, it is better to let the stuff age because I might change my mind later. Being objective will be much easier when I view it the next time around.

My problem stems from attaining a goal to be published by age 25. (Yeah, that’s what it was! I also blame a writer’s conference I attended but that’s another story.) It was one of those small press publications where payment is made in the form of copies. It didn’t matter, that’s where the ‘real’ writers were. It was a publishing credit and I was on my way. Which brings me back to the problem. See, I never formulated the next step; there were no further goals. Oh I thought about creating goals. I just couldn’t visualize them. Or maybe I just couldn’t make the commitment.

One might say that I have a commitment problem. Someone else might call it a procrastination problem. I prefer to say that I’ve never had a really good concept of time. In fact, it’s been lousy. I can realize and admit this shortcoming only in a past sense. Because the present has always stood still for me. My favorite ballplayers never peaked and their best years were always ahead. I thought Bonanza would just continue throughout my life. Rock stars were always older than me but they weren’t aging either. My uncles and cousins would always be just a visit away.

It must be because my youth was too damn stable. Poor but never hungry. Never even realizing we were poor until high school. We were like the Waltons and in fact I’ve often characterized my childhood as such. No TV in the house until I was in the 8th grade (and only then because a doctor recommended it to my mom as a sedative to keep my dad down while he recovered from an illness). This, by the way, was probably the reason that my brother and sisters were all reading by the time they went to kindergarten. Hmmm, now there’s an interesting old German word for you—remind me to go back into that later.

Anyway, it was church twice on Sunday as well as Wednesday night. Shared bedrooms. One bathroom shared by a family of 6. A 10-mile drive to town. Happy? Damn right it was happy. Which will do it for this reminisce. What I was ultimately getting to was the irreparable damage done by such a glorious existence. To do that I must skip ahead. At some point life moves along and a certain reality enters into your consciousness. More of those omnipotent people that fill your youth are dying. You no longer have baseball player or racecar driver as an occupational option. At first the players are your age. Then they are younger than you. Then they begin to look like kids. Like your kids even.

Try this sometime: become a homeless person in yer 30’s. Get yerself bailed out by family living 3 states away (thus avoiding jail or death). Get yer act together enough to work as a temp on an assembly line of a large corporation. You should not feel old until you attend a company meeting that is geared to the 20 year olds and what their IRA’s or Keough’s or whatever will be doing by the time they reach yer age. Finish yer assignment and go to work at another company for less pay than you made 20 years earlier. Work that dead-end job fer about 10 years. Done? Now go out and buy yerself a house. You’ve earned it. But doncha think ya better make it a 10-year note?

Ya see what I’m saying here? Time is the ultimate tyranny. Ya better just put that novel on hold and get yer little ass shaking.