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Montecristo Captain Quixote

montecristo

The World Line of the Horizon Star

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world


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Montecristo Captain Quixote
montecristo

There are times we try to be all we can be when no one's around

It’s warm today. It’s very sunny. The drive over to Alameda was kind of sweaty, given that I have been too cheap to get the air conditioner drainage in my car fixed and the blower replaced. Fortunately, Alameda is about 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than Livermore and the office here is air-conditioned.

I’ve been hanging out at the office lately. I was here until around 11:00 last night reading and messing around on the computer and now I’m over here on a Saturday using my work computer because my 21” CRT monitor blew up on me Thursday, rendering my home computer useless until I can replace my ancient dead monitor that has taken up a new life as a gigantic fifty pound paperweight on my desk. Its replacement is going to be a nice LCD monitor when I can get around to Fry’s Electronics with some of my hard-earned pelf and get a new one. I was thinking of just ordering one from Dell computers, because I get a discount through them because the company has a deal with them but I thought it might make sense to do some shopping around first. I’m going to go to the Fry’s in Walnut Creek when I decide to leave here this afternoon.

Shannon called me at work yesterday. She wants to come down on the 30th. I have been eager to talk to her and trying and trying to get back to her but Shannon is rather cavalier about answering her phone or checking her voice mail. Recently, she was at an anime convention with a school friend of hers and her friend's family, in Bakersfield of all places. I love my younger daughter's creativity and her sense of humor. She is such an interesting blend of Crystal and I. It always amuses me to get her voice mail. Her outgoing message is her reciting from Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:

Oh, no.
I can not hear your call.
I can not hear your call at all.
This is not good,
And I know why.
A mouse has cut the wire.
Good-bye!

She's got a great voice. She is in the midst of changing her phone over to her elder sister's hand-me-down phone. Jackie just signed up for her own wireless plan with a different provider, PCS Metro, and bought herself a new phone. Jackie's eighteen in September and sometimes it surprises me how much initiative she's taking in her life. Shannon's phone had previously been run over by a car and shockingly enough only the exterior picture screen on it was shattered. The darned thing still works. Sheesh, I dropped my old one onto my desk from eight inches high and it dies — hers gets run over by a car and lives! I kept telling Crystal to go get her phone replaced, because it is insured, but given that Jackie is going to bequeath her old phone to Shannon I guess everything works out for them. I wonder if she's gotten the number changed over yet. Shannon's birthday is the 24th, exactly two months before mine. She'll be fifteen this year. Whee. Children are great for reminding their parents of how old they are getting.

I talked with Tom earlier on the phone today. He told me that he may have an old 15” CRT for me, until I can get the new monitor. That will be a good thing. A fifteen inch monitor that works beats a behemoth that doesn’t. Sometime later, he dropped by work to chat and give me the monitor. We decided to go for coffee and chew the fat with his friend J.P. who is an electrical engineer with a horde of ideas about designing an electric car. Tom has been trying to convince him to apply some effort to document the ideas and get them patented. He's planning to introduce him to David, the patent lawyer who is doing the work for McGuffin. J.P. does have some interesting and innovative ideas. It would be interesting to see them pursued.

Last night I stopped for dinner at The Clown. I got home around midnight. My garage has no automatic opener and must be opened from inside the house, so I have to get out of my car, open the front door and go in to the garage from the house in order to put my car away. Well, last night on the way to the front door I encountered this little yellow tiger-striped kitten on my front walk. I suspect that he/she belongs to the next door neighbors, who have three adult cats but I can’t be sure. He was a bit shy at first, but I got down on one knee and let him check me out. He got really interested in my cheeseburger-grease-covered fingers and nipped me. Hey, no, you cannot has cheezeburger; I already eated it! That's my finger! It made me wish that I had something other than frozen dinners in my refrigerator at the time to give him.

I’ve got some good music playing here. It’s KFOG’s Local Scene 05 CD. I ordered a couple of copies from them, as I do every year. They got here Thursday evening. I’m not as much a fan of their annual “Live From the Archives” CD’s but I have never been disappointed in the Local Scene ones. I have 03, 04, and now, 05. As a bonus, the proceeds go to a good cause: Music In the Schools Program. An added bonus is that they are also very cheap — $5. I’m considering sending a copy or two to some friends who would appreciate some local music.

Lately, I’ve been reading more. My reading load consists of four or five books, at present. It all started with Richard Mitchell’s Less Than Words Can Say. The text of this book is available on the web in its entirety. I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the power of language and grammar and how clear thinking is inextricably bound up in language and grammar. This should be any human being capable of thought.

Sadly, this is a topic that has fallen shockingly out of public knowledge in U.S. culture. When my daughters were starting their school years Crystal and I spoke with some of their potential teachers. It was appalling how many public school teachers could not satisfactorily answer the question of why the study of English and of grammar is important. What we found is part of why we decided to home-school Jackie and Shannon for the early years of their education. The book is clear, highly entertaining, and very informative. Read it and begin to understand what is going on in our culture as the decay in our philosophical base is reflected in our language and how our language and its teaching reflects and amplifies this change in people’s ability to think clearly.

My friend John, from work, loaned me a copy of Phillip Katcher’s, The Army of Robert E. Lee. I’ve been slowly slogging my way through this one. It’s full of fascinating information, but not for anyone who is not an “infomaniac,” because it gives a ton of details about how the Army of Northern Virginia was put together and run. It’s definitely a good book for people interested in the War Between the States.

When talking to Tom at lunch Friday about the Richard Mitchell book he pointed me to a site called Mens Sana Foundation, which is Latin for "sound mind" and not a health club for males as everybody thinks when only hearing the words spoken. They’re a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the principles of clear thinking. It was an instance of serendipity. Apparently, he knows David Shapiro, the author of the foundation’s books. I’ve been poking around in one of their books: You Must Not Let Them Con You! There’s Too Much At Stake, a sample of whose text is also available online. I think I’m going to pick up this one within a week or two. Tom has suggested that we have lunch with Shapiro. He sounds like a pretty interesting person.

I’ve also been running through Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People again. It's a funny and surprising coincidence that the guy has the same birthday as me! Periodically, I attempt to implement some of Covey's suggestions recommendations for improving effectiveness and character. As can be seen from the self-help literature that has invaded my reading list recently I've been feeling the need to polish my living strategy. I recognize a vague dissatisfaction sneaking up on me and that is a flag to me to begin reassessing things again and looking at where I am going and how I'm getting there. Recently, I was thinking about some things in my life and I was wondering why I have such a hard time letting things go when they don't work. The immediate supposition was that it was fear or pride that keep me at problems with a bulldog tenacity. Of course then, thinking about it, I started to wonder if "letting go" is really an answer at all or any kind of end in itself. Perhaps it would be better merely to change the way I look at things. So, that was a prompt to go dig up Covey again and do some reading.

Hmm, it's getting close to seven o'clock and it's two hours later than I had planned to hang out here in Alameda. I suppose that I should go try to get that monitor Tom gave me working with my machine. With luck, I should be back online this evening. Gah! It's interesting how much I do by computer anymore. It's such a different world than the one in which I grew up.

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I scoped out the online excerpt from the the book about con artistry. Yes it is, yes the author is a practitioner thereof. The text presented was a hyper-emotional version of: run right out and buy this book, it's the greatest thing ever. This was from an actual chapter, not just advertising copy. I take this as an indication that the rest of the book would simply be self-promotion as well, with other content at a minimum. It reminded me of Dianetics. The only seeming deviation was when he took a moment to remind us that OMG, Communism is bad! This was a bid to establish a bond with the readers. We are not wholeheartedly in favor of Communism, and neither is the author. But he is brave and self-righteous enough to just come right out and say it. He must be our long-lost brother and a fellow soldier in the global fight to stamp out Communism!

The writer clearly has a background is sales and, it is to be hoped, a guilty conscience about having sold that water-soluble aluminum siding to the sweet elderly couple who couldn't afford it. Aluminum siding is a product with a real physical presence and a supply chain of shippers and manufacturers who all get paid. It may even work for its intended purpose.

With motivational speakerism you don't need inventory, and you don't need merchantability. The product doesn't have to work and it's non-returnable. People get a good show for far less than they would pay at a Rolling Stones concert. A lot less. Sometimes free. Generally, no charge, but let's get fired up and buy books and tapes on the way out.

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