Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unemployment glitch

Thanks to the Fed stalling on extending unemployment benefits, wary of passing the expensive health deform - - I mean, REform - - bill, which, hopefully, will never pass, my local online unemployment benefits were delayed when I tried to logon this morning. When I finally was able to logon, a message warned me that if I didn't make a claim for my second (or is it third?) extension in TWO DAYS, that I'd have to start all over again. Gee, thanks for the warning! Fortunately, that extension was automatically accepted based on the answers I gave (no, I haven't found employment of any kind; yes, I'm not lying), so I'll get one check for the second-to-previous-last week, and then I'll continue my benefits starting in mid-March.

I was going to get the mail, today (I don't get much mail, so I usually go to my post office and apartment boxes only on Wednesdays and Saturdays), but, I'm not expecting anything of import (rarely get such!). That and, to be honest, I'm just in a lazy mood, sore from this past week's FIVE tennis matches, which is three more than I usually play in a week! I suddenly realize that I'm not as young as I think I am!

Saturday: Played tennis, read a book

That's about as exciting as my day got!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unneighborly boors

I came home from my Friday volunteer work at CKRE, and found that my white trash neighbor (not the one who has trash strewn all over his patio) parked his over-resonated pick-up truck in front of my apartment, rather than in the spots near his apartment. Since it was more difficult to park in my spot, which has a traffic-calming "island" next to it, it is obvious that he did so to annoy me. There has never been any "love" between us, but neither has there been any animosity (except for one winter evening a year or so ago, when I took pictures of the ice that had formed on the trees; a few minutes after I went back into my apartment, he pounded on the door. When I opened it, he demanded to know why I had taken pictures of his truck (not the one he now has); I told him what I had taken pictures of, and, chagrined, he apologized. What difference did it make? What a jerk!), but, I assure you, animosity there now is. I don't know what I can do about it. I parked next to him, closer to his apartment (the apt between us is vacant; again, giving him plenty of space to park anywhere but in front of my apt), in hopes of making it clear, both, that I was not pleased about the situation, and, hopefully, it inconveniences him, when he or his passenger has to climb into the behemoth.

My strewn-trash neighbor (he and his pregnant girlfriend are black; does that make them "black trash"?) may not realize what has occurred with his garbage; on the other hand, it's hard to believe that they haven't noticed the stench.

And so the once-nice neighborhood devolves into a trailer park.

[update] I am man enough to admit when I'm wrong . . . and embarrassed.  It turns out that the pick-up truck that had parked in my spot belonged to a woman who, with a couple of other people, clean-up vacated apartments in my complex. So, it had nothing to do with my neighbors. Hey, her pick-up is EXACTLY the same as my white trash neighbor's vehicle (color, make, model, dual, absurdly loud, resonators), so it's easy to make that mistake (to tell you the truth, I really didn't think that my white trash neighbor was THAT much of a jerk, but, I've lived next to worse, so pardon me for my paranoia!).

Is there such a thing as too much tennis?

This morning, as I left to pick-up the mail at my post office box, one of my neighbors (a man in his 30's or 40's) tailgated me (he wasn't anywhere near his car when I left, so he must have been racing pretty fast). We all recognize each others' cars, so I was very surprised when he zoomed around me, only to be stopped at a light. As I rolled-up, slowly and calmly behind him, I noticed that he did everything in his power to not look in his rear view window. As soon as the light turned green, he zoomed off. He was trapped at the next light, and I would have loved to have come up behind him again, but I made a left turn, there, so, gloating opportunity missed.

I played tennis for the 4th time this week, subbing for someone in a different group. I played horribly. I think I have to realize that I'm no longer 30 years old, and can't play so much in one week, much less 3 days and 4 times in a row.

My weight has been yo-yo'ing radically between 175 and 180 lbs in the past two weeks.
I can't figure out why.

A letter from my local utility company - - which includes everything except heating gas - - said I was late on a recent payment. I checked, and discovered that I had mistakenly put March 12 as my online payment date, instead of February 12. I have to go into their office to ask for clemency on the $7 late fee; on the phone, they said that I had an excellent credit history with them, and, if I bring proof of the mistake, they'll probably waive it; I'll even offer to pay the current bill, right there and then, as well. No big deal if they decide not to do so, but it annoys me that I was that careless. I could set up automatic payments, but I've experienced problems with forgetting to add funds to my checking account for them, or having to deal with their errors (e.g., one time, I got a bill for $700+ when it was supposed to be $100+!). Life goes on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My neighbors suck and my toof hurts

One of my newest neighbors put a large garbage bin on his backyard, enclosed, patio; the bin is a violation of the lease which prohibits any accumulations of trash in or outside the apartment. That trash is now overflowing and, thanks to rodents, cats, birds, and even the wind, is now strewn all over the place. They also have a dog, which is also a violation of the lease (when they first moved in and I introduced myself, I "asked" them if the lease had changed to allow pets; that's usually enough to give most people a hint; in their case, it didn't).

My other new neighbors have a pick-up truck with ear-shattering muffler resonators (a violation of town anti-noise laws, much less that of the lease), which probably has a diesel engine, because it sits in idle for 15-30 minutes; either that, or they're filthy rich and don't care about the cost of fuel (which brings up an interesting point: If I were a criminal, scoping out a gas station for easy pickin's, who would I rob? The mom in the SUV with five screaming kids? The businessman in the Cadillac who "tsk-tsks" as he fills-up? Or the guy in the Hummer idling his 13 mpg engine at the side of the station while chatting away on his cell phone? If you guessed the Hummer guy, you're right!). Another new neighbor also has a dog, which he walks past my apartment, always trying not to look as if he's staring into it, while his dog piddles on my walkway. And yet another new neighbor uses the parking lot as his own personal raceway, driving maniacally at excessive speeds, and, when there's snow and ice on the ground, he purposely spins out on it (the cops are helpless to act unless they see it; I even showed them video tape, but they said it could have been doctored; it wasn't, but how do the innocent prove it?).

When simple laws and leases are broken by scofflaws and jerks, and the off-site landlord and cops couldn't give a damn, it is easy to see how even the nicest areas become slums and homes to illegal drug makers and other ne'er-do-wells.

I'm starting to look for a new home.


Anyway . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I broke a tooth. I had tried three local dentists in the past year or so, but they were either unfriendly or did a lousy job or both. So, I got a friend in another town to recommend her dentist to me, and that's where I'm going, if the new snowfall doesn't stop me! ("toof" is how a child says "tooth" . . . well, *I* thought it was cute! And, no, the broken tooth actually doesn't hurt at all).

[update] The new dentist was wonderful! She and her assistant were very warm and pleasant (her office is tuned to the same radio station I listen to in the car!), and, despite the severity of my problem, they fixed it up - - temporarily - - 1,2,3; more has to be done, but she needs the hygienist to clean all my neglected teeth and gums, and then they can decide how to proceed from there. Unfortunately, it looks as if I need a lot more work, so I can kiss about $5,000 goodbye!

I played tennis twice: once as a substitute for a group of men who can hardly walk, but, they gave me hell with spins and slices and - - intentionally or not - - drop shots. I played for the next two hours with my regular group of 4.0 men; I was visibly exhausted, and one of the guys said we should quit 15 minutes early, concerned about my labored breathing (he also had a sore back, so, I wasn't the only one who had problems).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New shelves

 I donated a bookcase to the radio station for the blind where I volunteer. They got somebody to put it together (I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrist, what I think is rotator cuff, and a bad back, and bad knees, and a bad toe . . . don't get me started!), but then the ladies need a big, strong man, to move everything off one office's shelves, and then switch the new and old bookcases; they settled for me.  ;)
I also helped put up the displaced paintings.
Needless to say, I won't need to warm-up for tonight's tennis!

For my late lunch, I went into one of those whole food grocery store and tried a couple of things I normally wouldn't: half a carrot souffle, half a corn souffle, and a sun-dried tomatoes/pasta dish; it's a little frou-frou for my taste, but my taste buds didn't complain! Considering it cost $6, where a fast/junk food meal would have cost $5, I think I did pretty well!

Sunday & Monday

I didn't do anything worth mentioning on either day,
so this is the Tuesday post to say I didn't do anything Sun & Mon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No tennis . . . no life

I didn't play tennis this past Wed or today, as it was not my turn (i.e., 5-6 players rotate in, depending on the day with two different "social" groups (I put "social" in quotes because, although we have fun, we are all quite competitive!)). However, next week, I more than make up for it by playing FOUR times on four different days: 3 are my usual days, and I'm a sub for the fourth time.

So, I did virtually nothing today. I figure I must be saving a lot of money, that way!  ;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

CKRE then home

I did my volunteer stint at the radio station. Before leaving, I chatted with a guy at the control board I hadn't seen, before. It turns out that he's a DJ/controller at a local radio station. During the conversation, I mentioned that I was a semi-professional actor, and he asked me to do a radio recording of a one-act play for his theater group (I'm not sure who they are, yet). I gave a tenative "yes" (he's not sure if/when his troupe will perform it).

After that, I went home, and did pretty much nothing except work and play on the computer.

Yes, I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, bored!

A woman in San Diego, CA, contacted me earlier in the week about a potential computer programming job in Seattle, WA. She asked for some basic info (nothing personal) by e-mail and promised to call. Guess who never did. That's the second time in the past 30 month. And, yes, I perform due diligence in searching for these people on the web, to make sure they're legit. And, yes, I e-mail and/or call them, but my messages are never returned. =sigh= I started my second extension for unemployment benefits this week (four more to go?); honestly, I'd rather be working, but I can't even buy a job! (not that I would do so, mind you! I'm just saying!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daredevil jerk

One of my new neighbors - - who, I suspect, is the teenage son of the trailer trash living two doors from me - - decided to race his brand new compact car in the narrow, but long, parking lot, having fun skidding on the ice. I'll admit that he had incredible control of the vehicle, but, there are quite a few kids in the area, not to mention lots of cars in the lot. Knowing that talking to him or his alleged parents will do little good, except to promote violence and vandalism against me (hey, that's the only thing "tattling" has done for me; way back when, in a previous apartment, I asked two kids who had just moved into my apartment building, and, of course, next door to me, to lower their stereo which was blasting (and I mean BLASTING) at 2:00 in the morning; they gave me the finger, shoved me out their doorway, and the next day, I found my tires slashed; the cops were useless; two YEARS later (they blasted their stereo only three times after that; all times, I called the cops to no avail; my guess is that they had a "lookout" for the cops; one of them had a one-year prisoner tatoo on his arm, which doesn't surprise me at all) they were evicted for - - are you ready for this? - - swimming in the complex's pool after posted hours! The landlord told me afterward that, although they had numerous police and tenant complaints against them, Virginia law prohibits evictions in many circumstances; also, the cops said that one of the boys was on parole, but swimming/trespassing wouldn't be enough to incarcerate him - - bad boys, bad boys . . . whatcha gonna do?), I'm going to video his comings and goings, and give the incriminating evidence to the landlord and cops. I know they won't do anything; as an example, three of my neighbors have pets, which is a violation of the lease, and nothing has been done about that, even though the landlord admits that he knows about them, so I doubt that anything will be done about the reckless kid. His roommate drives a pick-up truck with one of those excessively loud resonators attached (couldn't they just outgrow the baseball-card-in-bicycle-spoke phase?), but nothing will be done about that, either. I'd move, but, without a job, and seeing that this is the best apartment complex in the area, I am both loathe and unable to leave.

I ran some personal errands, including vacuuming the apartment, fumed about the above, and called it a day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friend's interview

An unemployed friend, who is seeking her doctorate, had an interview, today, but kept all her Facebook friends in suspense by not telling us until hours later that she thought she did well! This is the fourth friend who has been out of work a LONG time and just got an interview. I have two such in the works, but I can't seem to get the Human Resource people to call me (THEY sent an e-mail asking for dates and times I can be reached, but I never hear from them; when I call them, all I get is a recording, and nothing happens if I leave a message; it doesn't say much about a company when their, arguably, primary contact for most non-employees can't be reached (have they ever heard of delegating???)).

I just checked my '99 Crown Vic's oil and tire pressure on the first day of no snow since Sunday. Other than some salt and dirt all over the engine, everything is amazingly fine! I haven't even passed the 100,000 mile mark, and the car has had only one "major" repair in all that time (the "idle air control valve" cost $200; the equivalent fix on a carburated vehicle would have cost only the time and effort to snip off the broken end of the vacuum advance/retard rubber tube! Ah, technology!)

Fortunately for my myriad aches and pains (mostly my should rotator cuff), I have "off" from tonight's and Saturday's tennis. I would have had next Tuesday off, as well, but one of the players is on vacation, and I was the only sub available (the club allows us to cancel and "make-up" the time when the regular season ends, but, as long I can lift the racquet above my shoulders to serve, I'm playing, come hell, high-water, or Ninevah and Tyre!).

Usual busy Tuesday

CKRE announced Monday evening that it would open late Tuesday,
which was fine, as it gave me an extra hour's sleep, if you can call it that
(I haven't had a full, non-drug induced, sleep since 1977; 
no one knows why, but, somehow, I manage on 3 hours of real sleep a day;
thank g-d for computer games and the internet!).
When I got there (25 miles east of my home),
the main entrance had been inadvertently partially blocked by city snow plows.
My Crown Victoria had no problem getting through the muck,
but, to help others, I shoveled the partially melted, gloppy, stuff.
Unbeknownst to me, the janitor had been watching,
and, when I was done, opened the door for me
(she doesn't do that for just anyone, ya know!).
Because of the previous day's bad weather,
CKRE had cancelled its morning live recording session,
and asked me to do two non-live recordings, rather than my usual one
(they know I travel a long way for this volunteer stint,
so they probably feel obligated to give me a little extra to do,
which, I enjoy, so I'm grateful!).

I then drove to the tennis club, and whiled away the next 5 hours
by surfing the net on my laptop (free wi-fi in the club),
reading the local newspaper, and a book, "The Girl with No Shadow"
by the woman who brought us "Chocolat" (liked the book; not so much the movie,
of which, I surmise, Hallmark's, "The Good Witch" series, is a blatant rip-off,
but, not a bad one!)). Then, finally, 7pm rolled around and I played tennis.

Monday, Monday

Did a little shoveling for the additional 2" of snow dumped on the area.

Otherwise, had little to do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I got a rock for Val's Day! And a virus! (it isn't what you're thinking!)

Well, Valentine's Day came and went, and there was nothing in this Charlie Brown's mailbox.  :,(
Of course, it was Sunday and a 3-day weekend (Presidents' Day on Monday),
so, naturally, I'm expecting tons of heart-shaped letters on Tuesday,
when the postal service resumes!  ;)

Early this morning, my computer suffered a major spyware infection,
calling itself "Vista Antispyware 2010".
It took me (a knowledgeable computer programmer and repairman)
nearly 3 hours to figure out the problem,
then search and destroy the malware,
then another 8 hours to run various system checks and updates.

Neither Windows Defender nor Windows Firewall nor Avast anti-virus programs caught this malware.
I'm not even sure what triggered it,
except that the last thing I did before it kicked-in
was click a Google link to YouTube.
Either the link itself was bogus (I'm usually very good about checking the browser's "status" line
to make sure that the target link goes to the proper domain),
or I may have accidentally clicked on one of those bogus "check your PC" links,
which, IMHO, should not be on any legitimate website's pages.

=========

For the record, here's how to remove this spyware:


WARNING:

      DO NOT do the following fix if ANY of the following apply to you!

           - The most complex computer-tech thing you know how to do is turn the machine on and off,
              surf the web, send e-mails, and edit documents.

            - You don't know what a "directory", "registry", "file", or DOS is, or how to access them.


            - You've never heard of or safely used "regedit" or a similar program.

            - You have no idea what "SAFE MODE" is.





HOW TO REMOVE THIS MALWARE: 


      WARNING: If ANY of the following steps looks like gobbledygook to you, then DO NOT do them!!!


         !!!! DO NOT BACKUP/EXPORT YOUR REGISTRY
         !!!! UNTIL THE FOLLOWING STEPS ARE COMPLETED!!!!!


1) Put your computer in "safe" mode.

2) Start, Run, "regedit -v"
(n.b., in many instances of this virus, it may prevent certain programs from being executed,
including "regedit.exe"; if this happens, go to your root directory (usually "C:"),
and search for or manually go to the Windows sub-directory, where you'll find "regedit.exe";
double-click it to start it (Vista users can right-click it then select "start")).

3) Single left-click "Computer" 
     (i.e., scroll to the very top of the directory tree on the left side of the registry window).

4) Search your registry for "av.exe"
(n.b., "av.exe" is the name used by the current version of this virus; 
it will probably change in the future).

5) When regedit finds something containing "/START"  
(read: "forward-slash start" in either upper, lower, or mixed case),
remove everything from the beginning of that value up to and including the word "/start".

  For example:

    In HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe\shell\open\command:

         Default = “%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\av.exe”  /START  “%1″  %*
                    (the equals sign, colors, and spaces, are for clarity only; your display may differ)

    the red parts should be removed so that "Default" part reads as follows:

         Default =  “%1″  %*

6) Repeat the search (i.e., hit F3),
and repeat the above fix,
until the registry says there are no more instances of "av.exe"
(repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no more "av.exe"s!).

For the record, there were only 3 such instances in my registry, but your results may differ.


7) Still in "regedit", go back to the top of the left part of the screen, and repeat step 3.
Then, manually locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe
(make sure the dot precedes "exe").
If the "Default" value indicates anything other than "exefile", change it
(e.g., mine read "secfile", so I changed it to "exefile")


NOW YOU MAY BACKUP/EXPORT YOUR REGISTRY!!!!

When that's done, close/exit "regedit",
then search your computer (NOT the registry!) for "av.exe" and remove it
(n.b., it's a "system" and "hidden" file, 
so you may need to change your folder options to view "hidden" files,
and/or use DOS "attrib" to find and change that file's settings;
mine was "hidden" in OEMCOMPUTER - AppData - Local).


Reboot, and you should be okay.

Print this, so you're ready the next time the virus strikes (it has hit me twice).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Class pic

One of my Facebook friends posted a class picture from his 3rd grade, just one year before I arrived at that school. Everyone who is in his "circle" chimed-in with names of kids, and a few reminisces. Unfortunately, the Facebook "tag" mechanism leaves a LOT to be desired, as it is fixed in a single size, which is WAY too big for the crowded, small images in typical, class photos, so I made my own version (hey, I'm a computer programmer; I can do ANYthing!).  ;)  You may view it at http://TennisNut.webng.com/Sag66.htm .

I played tennis and won all three social matches (4 of us alternate partners in the 1-1/2 hour seasonal slot), which is unusual, as I have a low percentage of wins over the years (just 30%; you'd think I'd be upset about losing so much, but, fortunately, I'm very good at it!).  ;)

Other than that, I vacuumed, ate, updated the PSPL Friends' website.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Recorded but not sent

I spent the morning donating/delivering a bookcase to Central Kentucky Radio Eye (http://RadioEye.org), then recorded an hour-long news session.  I gave the two paid staffers a box of chocolates as a token for Valentine's Day, which both women appreciated (I didn't anticipate that the General Manager was there, so I hope I didn't slight her by not bringing her some chocolates).

Sidebar: Despite the fact that most of the 4" of snow over three days has gone, I can't believe that people still have the stuff on their cars! During the second day, I saw people driving with barely a quarter-sized circle for a viewport!

I then went to the laundromat, where a woman left her child in the car, while delivering wet clothes to be dried (I guess her washer works, but not the dryer). The 4 year old managed to slip out of her baby seat, and started to wander into the low-travelled street (few cars, but they all race by at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone). I barked something to the woman, then raced outside and grabbed the kid, who, fortunately, turned around and started heading back to the laundromat. The woman said "thanks" and hit the kid. Well, better than if she had hit me, I suppose.

Got home, took a nap, woke up, watched a little tube, surfed the net, and other boring stuff.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Books for sale!

The Friends of the Paul Sawyier (that's the correct spelling!) Public Library of Frankfort, KY, started their quarterly (or thereabouts) book sale, and asked me to take some photos and video of the chaos (imagine 100 people crushed together in a room measuring about 30' x 30' filled with books, none of which are over $1!). As their webmaster (http://psplfriends.org), I am always happy to oblige.  I did some personal chores, then went to the library at about 3pm, just one hour before the sale started. As it turns out, the library gave the Friends a number of functioning, but out-dated, computers, monitors, hard drives, and other components. I picked-up some books and some of the computer equipment for about $85, all told. I will refurbish the computer (I'm a computer programmer with a sideline job of fixing computers; http://SteveOfAllTrades.webng.com), and donate it to Central Kentucky Radio Eye (http://RadioEye.org), where I volunteer as a reader/broadcaster for the blind and disabled. Having nothing better to do, I stuck around until 6pm, helping people laden with heavy loads of book. The rush for books ended around 5pm, and I left at 6pm, starving.

Bring on the tennis hurt

I played tennis with a group of guys who are slightly above me,
NTRP-wise, but, that's the only way to improve one's game
(e.g., despite having played for nearly 30 years, mostly self-taught,
I only developed my backhand as a weapon 2 years ago;
I wouldn't have if I hadn't played "up" with a group who "took me in" when I moved to Kentucky
(read: I begged for anyone to take me!)).

Unfortunately, my mild rotator cuff injury (at least, that's what I think it is)
is beginning to hamper my serve, which used to be my most dangerous weapon
(85 mph serves; never "marshmallow" the second serve; never double-fault).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2" of snow and counting

Having been stuck in my apartment since Saturday afternoon (I've been unemployed since Feb 1, 2009, and have nothing to do except scour the web for jobs . . . guess how many I've found fitting to my background or that reject me because I'm too old (yes, I know it's illegal for employers to say that . . . what am I going to do, sue a prospective employer? heck, they're being honest!)), I ventured out to shovel the snow, and found it rather easy, because it was very moist, and pushed aside with the slightest push. The downside: I hurt my shoulder, which was already hurting from what I believe to be a rotator cuff injury, caused by too much tennis and typing silly diary entries into the computer (no surprise that I don't have health insurance, but I also don't want to be forced to have it, per my other blog (http://theunknownrambler.blogspot.com) . . . don't get me started!).

So, even though the plows hadn't come through, I had to cancel both my volunteer stint as a reader for a radio station for the blind and disabled, 30 miles from home, and my indoor tennis; fortunately, both had been cancelled due to the snow. With more snow on the way, I'll probably have to cancel Wednesday's tennis, too (I have been playing with the sore shoulder for a couple of months, now, and will continue to play until they pry the racquet from my cold, dead hands!!! (apologies to the deceased Charlton Heston, acting NRA spokesman and over-the-top actor)).

Sanity runs in the family

Alright, so the "Diary of a Madman" isn't from an institutionalized person, though some may think otherwise after reading this! Deal with it!

Upon a solo trip to Europe, my uncle (now deceased) gave me the best advice: Keep a diary! I wrote down EVERYthing that happened. Nearly 30 years later, I re-read it, and smiled at what I had gone through, both the good and bad! It was then that I wished I had kept a diary for every day of my life, although, it probably would have been boring to write, "I ate, I slept, I pooped", during my infancy (of course, that trio probably would have sounded better in Latin!).

So, in the "better-late-than-never" department, I am going to keep a diary from this point forward. Other than fixing typographical errors, I will not edit anything after the fact, if only to allow my train-of-thought from being disrailed by post-writing regret. Perhaps I will look back on all of it years from now, and realize that either I led an extremely fascinating life, or I tragically wasted it!

All comments are welcome, though I may not respond, and will delete any obnoxious missives (feel free to disagree with me on anything or everything I write, but if you curse, spam, advertise, have an irresponsible or inflammatory user ID, etc, or write anything that indicates that you are a troll or moron, then don't be surprised if you don't find it, later).


The "real" diary starts with the next post in this blog.