Preach, Sister!

I think what’s beautiful and hard and interesting about cancer is that it tears you down and builds you, and tears you down and builds you. It remakes you so many different times. The person I thought I was supposed to be or was going to be or who I thought I was six months ago is now somebody completely different.” ~ Shannen Doherty

This is so true.

39 Years Ago

39 years ago today Casablanca Records released what is—in my humble opinon—Donna Summer’s masterpiece, Once Upon a Time. THIRTY NINE YEARS.

I feel so old sometimes.

If you haven’t already read it, and you’re interested, my story regarding the album is here.

Jack-o’-Lanterns Were Once Made Out of Turnips, Beets and Potatoes—Not Pumpkins.

The jack-o’-lantern comes from an old Irish tale about a man named Stingy Jack. According to folklore, Stingy Jack was out getting sloshed with the Devil when Jack convinced his drinking partner to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks without spending money. Jack then put the Devil, shaped like a coin, into his pocket, which also contained a silver cross that kept the Devil from transforming back. Jack promised to free the Devil as long as the Devil wouldn’t bother him for a year, and if he died, the Devil could never claim his soul. Jack tricked the Devil again later, getting him to pick a piece of fruit out of a tree and then carving a cross into the bark when the Devil was in the branches. This trick bought Jack another 10 years of devil-free living.

When Jack finally died, God decided he wasn’t fit for heaven, but the Devil had promised never to claim his soul for hell. So Jack was sent off to roam Earth with only a burning coal for light. He put the coal into a turnip as a lantern, and Stingy Jack became “Jack of the Lantern” or “Jack o’ Lantern.” Based on this myth, the Irish carved scary faces into turnips, beets and potatoes to scare away Stingy Jack or any other spirits of the night.


The Point At Which…

…I gave up on Season 6 of American Horror Story. After this scene played out, I looked at Ben and asked, “Had enough?” He nodded and we turned the television off. Pardon the unintentional pun, but stick a fork in it, Season 6 is done in this house.

Why? Because much like the arc The Walking Dead began at the end of Season 4 with the gratuitous cannibalism of Terminus and ended with the arrival of Negan and his barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat Lucille this year, what was once an engaging, interesting story of survival among the undead has turned into little more than torture porn; something I don’t find at all entertaining.

I loved how AHS Season 6 started. It was horror with a genuine creep factor—a decided change from the usual camp that Murphy, Falchuk & Co. have imbued AHS with since Coven. The documentary format was refreshing. But then it jumped the shark and crossed the same line with me that TWD started two years ago. I already know only one of AHS’s characters survives the gratuitous bloodbath this year’s story has become, and it’s a testament that I’ve reached the point that I genuinely DO. NOT. CARE. who it is.

“A Referral Was Returned From The Server”

As much as I bitch and complain about the Apple OS, let’s not forget that I have to support their chief rival’s abortion in the corporate environment—and Windows is still far. and. away. a more fucked up system than macOS or OS X or whatever the hell the brain trust in Cupertino wants to call it these days could ever be.

The latest bit of banging-my-head-against-the-wall comes from that delightful little error message above. It popped up today while I was trying to install a driver for a standalone thermal printer. First off who was the genius that wrote it? Somewhere, at some point in time, some asshole programmer must have thought, “Let’s write the most obscure error message possible.”

For those of you who have the displeasure of encountering this bit of fuckery on a Windows 10 box running in a corporate (domain) environment, the solution is actually rather simple, but annoying as hell. Trying to run the offending installer as a local admin didn’t work. Trying to run it with administrator rights didn’t work. Disabling UAC (we’re getting warmer, but still no cigar) was a suggested solution via the Google, but didn’t solve the problem either. What I ultimately discovered that it was some godforsaken issue with something in the Domain Group Policy and UAC. Simply disabling UAC on the local machine won’t fix the problem; and since I didn’t have rights to do anything with the the Domain’s Group Policy, the only way to make it work is to remove the device from the domain entirely in order for the software to install.

I now have this documented at work since apparently none of my coworkers have ever encountered it—with the current thorn-in-my-side (who already views and treats me as just an ignorant imaging tech and not a full-fledged desktop tech with more years of experience than she’s been alive) looking at me like an escapee from the Short Bus when I told her I had to remove the machine from the domain in order to install a printer driver.

I’m glad it’s Friday…


I’m Dying Here

Thanks, Apple, for rekindling my appreciation of you and making me lust in my heart.

I admit that I am not thrilled about the loss of the MagSafe connector (it’s saved my ass on more than one occasion) or the glowing Apple icon on the lid, but damn…that thing is fine. Unfortunately, at $2399 for the configuration that comes closest to what I have now, it’s not in this year’s budget or probably even next year’s, save for a winning lottery ticket.

It’s probably just as well I can’t go out and get immediate gratification anyway; there are undoubtedly kinks to iron out in this new hardware and by the time I can afford to buy one, they will hopefully long be taken care of.

At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

My Very First Sneaky Pic

It was the last day of classes (or maybe the day after, I don’t honestly remember at this point) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, 1976. Since I would shortly be returning home to Phoenix for the summer, I was out taking photos around campus (with my old Kodak Tourist Camera that shot eight—eight—photos per roll of film) and as I was leaving the Student Union, I caught sight of this fine specimen leaving as well. I kept a discreet distance as I followed, hoping to find out where he was heading and maybe use the single remaining shot available on that roll of film to capture him.

Imagine my surprise when he stopped on the mall right outside the Union, stripped off his shirt, and sprawled out in all his glory on the grass to eat an apple. As George Takei would say, “Oh my~~~~~y!”

I never found out where he was headed. I wonder where he is now, 40 years later?

Artists Strike Back

Thankfully Herr Trump will not get anywhere near the White House, so his proposal for an unbuildable wall (of any color) will never come to fruition.

Via Dezeen:

Trump’s Mexican Border Wall Envisioned As Barragán-Inspired Pink Barrier

Mexican firm Estudio 3.14 has visualised the “gorgeous perversity” of US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the countries’ border.

In response to the controversial proposal, a group of interns at the Guadalajara-based studio came up with a conceptual design that would celebrate Mexico’s architectural heritage.

The giant solid barrier would run 1,954 miles (3,145 kilometres) uninterrupted from the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico, and be painted bright pink in the spirit of the 20th-century buildings by Pritzker Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán.

“Because the wall has to be beautiful, it has been inspired in by Luis Barragán’s pink walls that are emblematic of Mexico,” said the studio. “It also takes advantage of the tradition in architecture of megalomaniac wall building.”

Republican candidate Trump announced his idea to build a wall along the US-Mexico border early in his campaign, as his solution to keeping illegal Mexican immigrants out of America.

The team suggests that the wall could employ up to six million personnel. It could also incorporate shopping centre straddling its width, and a viewpoint from which US citizens could climb up and look down onto the other side.

5,253 Days

That’s how long I lived in San Francisco.

The other day I realized that I’ve now probably been gone from The City longer than I actually lived there. Some calculations verified that suspicion. I’ve been gone—and haven’t even been back for a visit—for 5,367 days.

Based on two prior attempts to leave The City’s siren call, when I returned to Phoenix in 2002, I had assumed it would be short term; a port to weather the economic storm that gripped the country post 9/11. But then something happened. I actually grew to like it here.

And then cancer diagnosis arrived. I came out of the ordeal a changed person; I looked at the Mark who existed prior to the diagnosis and wanted nothing more to do with him—and by extension the city that had contributed so much to who he had become.

To be honest, the intervening years have produced an occasional pang of homesickness when I stumble across a particularly stunning photograph of The City, but it passes quickly when I realize how circumstances brought me to the beautiful life I have now with Ben and that San Francisco has very much become a city for the young and obscenely wealthy; two demographics to which I definitely do not belong.

A Must Read

Burning Down The House

Timothy Egan, NYT:

A wounded bear is a dangerous thing. Detested and defeated, Donald Trump is now in a tear-the-country-down rage. Day after day, he rips at the last remaining threads of decency holding this nation together. His opponent is the devil, he says—hate her with all your heart. Forget about the rule of law. Lock her up!

He’s made America vile. He’s got angel-voiced children yelling “bitch” and flipping the bird at rallies. He’s got young athletes chanting “build a wall” at Latino kids on the other side. He’s made it O.K. to bully and fat-shame. He’s normalized perversion, bragging about how an aging man with his sense of entitlement can walk in on naked women.

Here’s his lesson for young minds: If you’re rich and boorish enough, you can get away with anything. Get away with sexual assault. Get away with not paying taxes. Get away with never telling the truth. Get away with flirting with treason. Get away with stiffing people who work for you, while you take yours. Get away with mocking the disabled, veterans and families of war heroes.

You know this by now —all the sordid details. For much of the last year, the Republican presidential nominee has been a freak show, an oh-my-God spectacle. He opens his mouth, our cellphones blow up. But now, in the final days of a horrid campaign, an unshackled Trump is more national threat than punch line. He’s determined to cause lasting damage.

Is there one sector of society he has yet to maul? Until this week, it was the denial wing of his own party, those “leaders” who looked the other way while their leader walked all over the Constitution.

But those who take pleasure in watching Trump destroy the Republican Party are missing the bigger picture. He’s trying to destroy the country, as well. Civility, always a tenuous thing, cannot be quickly restored in a society that has learned to hate in public, at full throttle.

Trump has made compassion suspect. Don’t reach out to starving refugees — they’re killers in disguise. Don’t give to a charity that won’t reward you in some way. Don’t pay taxes that build roads and offer relief to those washed away in a hurricane. That’s a sucker’s game. We’re not all in this together. Taxes are for stupid people.

Every sexual predator now has a defender at the top of the Republican ticket. The most remarkable thing about last Sunday’s debate was Anderson Cooper having to school a 70-year-old man on workplace taboos that most of us learn on our first job.

“You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals,” said Cooper. “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

What you heard was the lecture the human resources director gives just before saying, “You’re fired.” Trump could not get hired at the drive-through window at a Jack in the Box. Knowing about his history would make any employer liable. It took decades to get the workplace to that point where Trumpian predators are shunned. Given the biggest pulpit in the world, Trump is trying to bring that consensus down.

He calls it locker room talk. The locker room has pushed back, resoundingly. Let’s call it what it is—the workplace. And as Trump told Howard Stern in 2005, when he bragged about his voyeur intrusions into backstage beauty pageants, “I sort of get away with things like that.” He made a similar comment—the blueprint for his actions—in the 2005 television tape that has blown up in his face. If he can do it, any creep outside of the celebrity bubble should be able to get away with the same thing.

He’s destroyed whatever moral standing leading Christian conservatives had — starting with Mike Pence. Their selective piety is not teachable. Take solace in one of the small acts of courage breaking out in recent days: a group of students at Liberty University telling their Trump-supporting president, Jerry Falwell Jr., to practice what the school preaches.

Trump is “actively promoting the very things that we Christians ought to oppose,” the students wrote. These young people, at least, are smart enough to see what Trump is doing to their world.

It will take many people like those students, and like the first lady, Michelle Obama, a model of decency and class, to repair the awful damage Trump has done.

In a powerful speech Thursday, the nation’s most respected public figure scorned the “hurtful, hateful language” of Trump and its effect on children: “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything to a woman. It’s cruel. It’s frightening.”

So it has come to this: The core lessons that bind a civilized society are in play in the last days of this election. We long for family dinners where Trump no longer intrudes, for tailgate parties where football is all that matters, for normalcy. Remember those days? They may be gone forever.

Critters (NSFW)

Because I’ve been negligent. And I would hate to have VoenixRising knocked off all those “pornography” filter lists!

“I mean, your dick knows what it likes. You reach puberty, you don’t fucking decide what you like. You ask your dick. You say, ‘Hey, Dick, what do you like?’ And you go for it.” ~ Peter, Parting Glances

Bitching and Moaning

Or, as I like to call it, further adventures in Apple, Fix Your Shit!

I honestly don’t know why I do it. Every time there’s a new OS available I immediately jump on it. It’s not just an Apple thing; I used to do the same thing with Windows. In fact, as I’m sure I’ve written here before, it was a misbehaving Windows 7 Beta that sent me into the arms of Steve Jobs to begin with.

Sadly, Steve is no longer with us, and perhaps more importantly, Apple’s signature truism “It just works!” also apparently died with him.

Having learned my lesson with the Yosemite Betas a couple years ago, I eschewed loading either El Capitan or Sierra on anything more than an external hard drive until the final product was released to the public. With Sierra I actually jumped the gun a bit: I loaded the Gold Master Beta right before the public release and had no issues whatsoever (beyond the ones I’d been having with every OS since Mavericks).

The public release of Sierra however brought a slew of new glitches. They aren’t work-stopping or kernel-panic inducing, but they are annoying as hell.

The most visible one is the fact that no matter how many times I check off boxes in any of the System Preferences panels to show their particular icons on the menu bar, they won’t stay turned on. With each reboot, all the icons have disappeared.

In fact, the only way I was able keep the icons appearing on a consistent basis was by doing this:

Yes, I had to manually add every .menu item to the Login Items panel that I wanted to actually reappear when I rebooted.

The next problem was the inordinate amount of time it would take to shut down or log off. We were talking minutes—something that all previous versions (including the Gold Master Beta) did not suffer from. I traced that glitch to something with File Vault, Apple’s whole-disk encryption scheme that I’d been using without incident since Mavericks. I solved that issue by turning it off.

I tried using the new Photos app—going so far as to import all my personal photos because it was nice to see everything arranged in time and space in an easily-accessible format. But damn if it didn’t send my MacBook’s fans into overdrive (much like Adobe Bridge, but that’s a rant best saved for another time) even when it wasn’t actively loaded. (It apparently does its piss-poor facial recognition and indexing on the database when the application isn’t running.)

Then there’s iTunes, the bloated Frankenstein monster that Apple apparently has no intention of breaking apart into separate components as much as it needs to be done. “Slap another coat of paint on it and call it a day. No one cares about the Mac anymore. Aren’t you needed over in iOS?”

I’m sorry, but that’s the feeling I’m getting from Apple lately. Everything is about the iPhone. They stopped being a computer company years ago; those devices are just a sideline to their phone business.

And that’s sad, because as much as I like my iPhone, it will never replace my laptop.

But who am I? I’m in a demographic that doesn’t even register on Apple’s radar any more.

And yet I’m still not ready to jump ship and return to Microsoft. Supporting that nightmare if only on a professional basis still sends my stomach acid churning, and for all the bitching and moaning I do about Apple, it’s still far and away my preference for my own computing needs. I have thought about reverting my OS back to El Capitan, Yosemite, or even Mavericks, but even that process has become unnecessarily cumbersome, basically requiring that an entire day be set aside for the OS reinstall,  reloading of every single application, and manually transferring all my data. I’m sorry, but that’s one of the many reasons I gave up on Microsoft…

Quote of the Day

Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake….

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes.” ~ John Scalzi