(Semi-Humor) Christmas family gathering, in the big City.

Good morning, everyone. Nice bright sunshine starting off this cool morning. No plans for today, just waiting for the family gathering to take place Sunday. I think I mentioned it is going to be at a restaurant this year. I don’t like crowds anymore, and I certainly don’t like Montgomery, Al. Which barely ranks below Chicago in shootings and murders per year.

I can’t decide on which bulletproof vest to wear. The dark gray one with the ceramic breastplate insert, or the black one with the hardened steel chest insert. So hard to dress for these occasions in Montgomery. Both would be under a shirt anyway. 7 of us will be armed, all fashionably concealed. 3 40s, 2 45s, and 2 9mm. I’m hoping for a large table, near a back entrance, for easy exit with the grandkids. Such a shame to have to joke about this. But in my time living there, I dined in two establishments, as they were robbed, been the victim of an attempted robbery, drove up to two convenience stores while they were being robbed. All that, twenty years ago. It’s no better today.

And before you ask. Yes, it sounds like a big democrat run city, which it is. In the 60s – 70s’s, we had republican mayors and low crime, so effective was the mayor, the mob bosses of the massage parlors he closed down, tried to assassinate him. He served 4 terms, then a democrat got in, and through freebies and handouts, they have remained in power till now. Can’t keep a superintendent of education, because they all skim money or sell favors. They hire black big city police chiefs, the last one from Detroit, who didn’t stay long. We have people moving from there in droves. So if you’re looking for a house, you can get one for 1/3 the original price. There are no upscale areas. Every section of Montgomery has crime or low class thugs living in assisted homes or apartments. The main mall closed down some years ago due to violence. Some areas the police don’t go into. Did I mention they have active gang members on the force? Yea. Maybe it’s to help them relate to the clientele.

For an idea of how crazy it is. The last mayoral election, which the incumbent won. Two candidates had these suggestions. I kid you not. I got to hear them on the news as they spoke in front of the council.

  1. One candidate wanted to draw more chicken places back to the city, like the Popeye chicken restaurants that were popular but had left (due to robberies). He suggested If they had more places like that to meet and hangout, there would be less trouble. I’m not sure which rock he had lived under for the last 20-30 years. But never fear, another candidate outdid him in the stupid department.
  2. Another candidate, said he would have the city build more community centers. To give the young people somewhere to go and hang out, play basketball or sports. Then, they wouldn’t have the energy to go out and do drive-by shootings and fight. Of course, they already have about 9 sitting in disrepair due to crime and drug dealing, causing them to close down. 

But anyway, it’s Christmas, and Millennials think they are bulletproof, so they want to go to a restaurant in Montgomery. I’m going with loose fitting clothes, the black body armor under a festive Santa Sweater, with steel chest insert over the heart, my 40cal and three magazines, Maybe a boot knife. :D Is that overdressed? If you have any suggestions for my ensemble, let me know, I hate to dress tacky when going out.

Michelle will probably sport her boots, 40cal Glock concealed of course, with three magazines, and her diamond stud earrings. They sparkle so nice in the glow of muzzle flashes. She will probably go with her custom purple body armor, under the Christmas sweater I got her last year. Even though it’s a buffet, I’ll eat light. Hard to run at my age, on a full stomach. By the way, I’m wearing my new all black running shoes.


Comments, always welcome.

Christmas Tree

In 1998 Michelle and I had lost everything we owned and were living in a small borrowed 18 foot AirStream trailer. It was complete with scorpions that would hunt for warmth in our bed, as the little trailer had more holes in and around it than Swiss Cheese. Michelle was a real bright spot for the kids and I, so I wrote this for us… It comes from my Collection of Poems

Christmas Tree

There will be no Christmas Tree this year, She says she understands…
Things have happened to us both, that were just out of our hands.
And like the baby Jesus, that had hay for a bed that night…
At least we have a roof and warmth, and can hold each other tight. 

There will be no pretty blinking lights, to brighten up the night…
But the stars are free, and we can see, as we hold each other tight.
And like the baby Jesus, who had his own star on that night…
We will pick our very own, to remind us of this night. 
There will be no Christmas Tree this year, she says she understands…
For some are not as fortunate, as to hold their true love’s hand.
And some will sleep upon the ground, and feel the chill too deep…
Some will drift off quietly, and never wake from sleep. 
There will be no Christmas Tree this year, but I’m glad I have her here…
And we will dream of better times, and dry each other’s tears.
So before you fuss about the gifts, that are not right there to see…
Think about the two of us, We’d settle for your tree.

© Ron Walker, December 1998

Merry Christmas to everyone, from Ron and Michelle.

Mop and Glo. “Seniors slip and slide coating for dummies”

Tired, and longing to enjoy a good cup of coffee after having moped and waxed the floors, with Mop and Glo, which hence forth shall always be referred to by me, as “Seniors slip and slide coating for dummies”. I needed to work on a broken charger wire. Needing better light, so I could see to solder my fingers easier, I Turned on the large overhead light. Instead of coming on nice and bright, it decided to flicker and taunt me with what I needed to see better.

So, instead of sitting down for a delightful session of soldering, which usually involves at least two fingers scorched before completion, the afternoon turned into looking to make sure there were no active shorts in the wiring of the office. Once under the desk, inspecting the myriad of wires, it turned into a three-hour task.

I have found that wires under a dimly lit desk, if left to their own, will crawl, wrap, tangle, and otherwise find interesting ways to become what looks like, a science fiction movie of a mutated spaghetti monster. With four computers, and various other components, the evil wire spirits had plenty of things to do, and they had, apparently, been VERY busy.

“Seniors slip and slide coating for dummies”

Mom used to put Mop and Glo on our vinyl floors when I was a kid. Of course, back then with the agility of a cat, we never noticed it. Since I’m grown up now, and wanted shiny floors, I decided to use it. Those floors really looked great. So yes, you can see where this is headed in my 71-year-old brain. Two coats would look superb!

Time to get to it. With tools in hand, we begin to work our way under the desk. Pulling and tugging I removed the paper shredder, the small office trash can, a guitar amplifier, computer number 2, and two battery backup units. During this time, it dawned on me, that I was wearing my sweatpants, sweat shirt, and a nice comfy pair of soft cotton socks.

Mop and Glo and wearing all soft clothing

That, is about the time, I realized that two coats of Mop and Glo and wearing all soft clothing, was going to be an adventure. There were a couple of moments, when I wasn’t sure if I was sliding due to the beautifully shiny floor, or something under the desk was pulling me there, to be a sacrifice. My hands were fine, but if I needed to use knees or elbows to support or brace, I looked like a gymnast doing splits. Think of a Giraffe, walking on a frozen lake.

Long story short, I survived, the mutant spaghetti wire monster was defeated. I also found some things I’d been looking for that had been missing for several months.

It turns out, the flickering light was caused by a bad breaker in the power box, in another room. Right.

Wire monster slain, all is once again at peace in the Kingdom.

We’re back to, “Keeping up, with the Joneses”

What is it today, with all the Internet platforms trying so hard. I get wanting to stay competitive, but it’s like they are afraid of, losing a moment to someone else. Everyone wants to provide a multiple experience. Whatever happened to, “If you do something, do that one thing well”. Blogging should be blogging. If you want to create a software for website building, then create one, but don’t try to squeeze it into your current product, that is already a stable success.

For many years, WordPress was the go-to for blogging. It was just comfortable, and easy to grasp. Then apparently, panic set in that they would be “one-upped” by someone else, so a mad rush was made to outdo the competition. In just a very few short years, a blogging platform has turned into a website building platform. Hardly resembling a blogging experience. Not to just bash WordPress, because I have some bones to pick, with my forum software below as well, but it is frustrating to those that want to blog, being pushed to the side for commercial interests. Sadly, sometimes that rush for fame and fortune leads to ruin.

Remember the antivirus programs of yesteryear? They were great at one thing, security. Then, to chase the dollar, they decided to get into adding various utilities for optimizing your computer. Buying up smaller companies/utilities that were good, and incorporating them as a suite. They became so bloated, that they couldn’t even do their primary task well. The few that survived, have gone back to the one thing they do well, and foregone being a suite.

The allure of one-upping the competition

WordPress, is not alone in the “over doing” arena. My forum software, over the last few years, has changed to chase the commercial interests. I started out with a software called IPS (Invision Power Services), a great software, that you had to learn, just like WordPress. If you wanted something extra, you had to learn how to insert code clips provided by others to get what you wanted. Then the fever hit. As the platform grew, the allure of one-upping the competition arrived. They worked feverishly to bring better things. At one point, we were getting updates several times a month. If you had a theme you used, or some add-ons, they were usually trashed by the new and improved update. We had to wait for those that had developed the items, to re-code them to work again. Only to have them broken the next month. What became fun to build things for, now was nearly a full time job, just to keep them working.

You will pay a price

Some might see where this is going. Developers, that enjoyed doing things for free, became frustrated. They started charging for add-ons, or themes. The free section of themes has gone from 40-50 in the last four years, to maybe four. The widgets have dwindled. Now, if you want something like a theme or add-on, you will pay a price for it, and then a maintenance fee every six months, in case updates break something. A theme can cost you $20-$40, with a recurring 6-month fee (usually half the price of the item) to keep it up to date. The same with the widgets or add-ons ($10-$60+). Why? Because IPS has also started chasing the “website look”.

The business plans of these companies, such as WordPress and IPS, defy logic. Yes, you can become great, you can rake in big money, but at some point it will be at the expense of losing users, then the revenue takes a hit. Apparently, this is happening to IPS, a once great forum platform. This year, out of the blue, the support center cost went from $25 per six-months, to $45 per six-months.

Killing off their original user base.

Support is fine, but if you’re smart enough to run the software after about a year, you seldom have to call on support. I haven’t had to use support in the last 3 years. But, and here is the catch, they only provide security updates, and software updates, if you have the support plan. So we jumped from $25 bi-annually, to $45. Plus, everything you want to enhance your forum comes with a pretty good price, and bi-annual fee. They are, essentially, killing off their original user base. I don’t begrudge the bi-annual fee for security and upgrades at a reasonable fee, but a $20 hike is just a bit on the rough side.

Let’s hope developers or WordPress that make our widgets etc., never truly get money hungry, like my IPS forum platform.

Comments, always welcome.