August 31, 2004
I guess I'm borged now. In the past I have found it a bit silly how news (even teensy weensy non-news) from Apple will be greeted in the blogosphere with hosannas from all corners. Today, here is the iMac G5 and I am now sufficiently borged to not even feel the need to examine the details. Just go buy it. If you are one of those guys who keep coming to me to ask if you should buy a Dell or a Gateway, I probably won't even waste my time pretending to respect that choice. If you don't know if you should go with Dell, Gateway or even HP, then buy a Mac. It'll require a very small effort on your part. It's a lot easier than doing the gym on a regular schedule.
At the GNI gathering the new wi-fi facility brought out the laptops so they were nearly as ubiquitous as the tree frogs. Most users had PCs, but I wasn't the only Mac-borg there. I loaned my USB hard drive to a cabinmate with a PC so we could exchange some photos. When he went to disconnect it I saw him click through the sequence required to eject a USB device. Holy shit! I'd forgotten about that mess. I have to do that on my W2K PC, but I've completely forgotten it, having become used to the Mac way ("Mac Way?").
On the Mac a little eject icon appears in Finder next to anything that can be ejected, unmounted, disconnected, whatever. One click on that icon and it's ejected. On my W2K machine I have to click an icon on the toolbar and then click something else, and something else. I don't remember how many clicks, but basically you have to select the device to eject, then eject it. And maybe you have to confirm your ejection. I found it was much, much easier to simply wait long enough to be sure everything was written and then pull out the USB plug. Windows would complain quite paternally, but it took only one click to close that window.
My cabinmate has XP, and I just assumed that this tedious process would have been improved by now...but I was wrong...or maybe my cabinmate didn't know what he was doing. If any of you XP users know of a one-click method to eject a USB device, please leave a comment and I'll pass it on.
But I am not so borged that I don't resent what I think is a tad bit too much paternalistic protection from the Mac OS. Specifically, inability to move a file from one drive to another in one, uh, move. The Mac behaves basically the same as Windows on file moves: generally, if you drag a file from one folder to another, it gets moved. If it's an executable, Windows doesn't move it, but creates an icon. Mac might do the same. I'm not gonna test it.
If you drag a file from one drive to another drive both operating systems copy the file, leaving the original copy in place. However, on Windows it's easy to use the right mouse button to drag the file to another drive, and when you release the mouse button you get a menu of things you can do, including MOVE. I've tried to find similar functionality on the Mac, but have been unsuccessful. Even using Ctrl makes no difference. The result is that the best way to move a file on the Mac is to open two Finder windows and line things up nicely, drag the file (which copies it) and then go delete it from the original spot.
I was just about to ask the Ron's Log readership for the answer to this, when I found myself in NYC face to face with a die hard, hard boiled, long time, gung ho Mac-head. She agreed with my observations and confirmed that the way I did it is indeed the way to do it. She suggested that it was the Mac's way of protecting me from making a terrible mistake. Uh-huh.
Anyone with comments on moving Mac files is welcome to speak. If you are going to tell me to go to the Terminal window to move a file, that will be very interesting, but will it be easy?
August 30, 2004
I have so few names to drop, I have to drop them whenever I get the chance. This month Palm Springs Life had a nice article about Thom Racina, a local author who I actually know. A friend introduced us over dinner one night. And who knows, maybe we'll have dinner together again some day.
I recently finished his Deadly Games. Give it a read yourself and let us know what you think.
Here's the article:
'Madman' Among Us
Thom Racina calls one of his books a "love letter" to the desert — and a great souvenir
"I'm a vampire." Thom Racina says. The author of seven thrillers prefers the quiet and solitude of the wee hours for writing. He goes to bed after the sun comes up. But unlike a true vampire, he gets up at noon and goes out among the crowds.
Racina loves crowds: He chats with strangers at more than 100 book signings a year, including weekly appearances at Palm Springs VillageFest, where he sells as many as 100 books in an evening. As impressive as that sounds, consider this is the man who walked into a Costco store in San Francisco for bread and tequila and signed 30 books in 10 minutes when he saw his book displayed.
Then there was O'Hare Airport in Chicago, where he saw his books lining three shelves in a concourse shop "I was on top," he says. "Mr. [John] Grisham was down near the bottom, and I had never seen that. I said. 'Where's the manager? Where's the manager?'" When the manager identified himself, Racina said, "Can I kiss your feet?" As they talked, a crowd gathered and the author ended up signing 30 books. "I almost missed my plane!"
Many people who attend Racina's book signings are attracted by his past — as a soap opera writer (General Hospital, Days of our Lives, Another World, and others). Tired of the Los Angeles scene, he became a novelist and moved to Palm Springs six years ago. He calls his 2001 book, The Madman's Diary, a "love letter" to his new home. It's filled with references to local places and people, though the idea came from his brother, Bob, who lives in their hometown of Kenosha, Wis.
Years ago, Bob Racina wrote a screen play in which the climax occurred at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. "I wanted to set a book in Palm Springs," Thom Racina says. "I wanted to make it a real thriller, and it fit perfectly to use my brother's idea."
Racina concedes a few inaccuracies For example, the book puts the Hyatt Grand Champions resort in Palm Desert, not Indian Wells. "These things happen." he says unapologetically, though he adds, "I wish I could go over it now and make a few little changes." One "error" he consciously made was making the Tennis Club area visible from the top of the Tram. In any event, he deserves credit for some foresight: "God. what this town needs is a good Krispy Kreme store," says one of the book's characters.
Racina recently completed Ice Storm L.A. The book was scheduled for February, but the publisher has postponed release until June 2005 "because it's a perfect summer read," Racina says. Meanwhile, he's writing The Puzzle Box — "more of an epic thriller." It starts in the Pacific Northwest and goes everywhere, including China, he says. But when asked if "everywhere" includes the desert, he says no, then reconsiders. "I was going to New Mexico. It might be fun to do that section in Palm Springs."
Racina wanted the cover of The Madman's Diary to feature palm trees, but the publisher refused, saying "this is a mass-market paperback for the country and Canada, not just for your desert."
Still, he says, many tourists who buy his book at VillageFest "reallv love it because it's a souvenir of a place they've been."
Glad to be home
Got back to Palm Springs from the east coast yesterday with no problems at all. I was quite, quite surprised at how efficient, friendly and helpful all the United Airlines people were the whole way. I don't usually bother to praise an airline, but since they are having financial difficulties I expected them to be shorthanded, tired and possibly rude. Far from it. I got to Newark airport way early and the agent there seemed happy to make the effort to waitlist me on earlier flights all the way home. Worked nicely until we got to the pinch at LAX. The little planes to Palm Springs sell out easily, so I had to sit and wait for my previously scheduled later flight. Did you know you could fly from LAX to nearby airports like Oxnard and Ontario? An Ontario flight was overbooked by 5 people, so they were making the standard offer of a free round-trip airfare anywhere within the 48 states to anyone who would volunteer to be put into a taxi and driven to Ontario! Man, I wish I'd had a ticket to Ontario.
But the very pleasant result of a later takeoff was that we got to walk out on the tarmac to see a full moon rising over the runways of LAX. Oh, that was as beautiful as anything Life magazine ever published...unfortunately, it wasn't quite the situation where they'd let me set up my tripod to capture it for you.
We took off into a clear sky so we could see all of Los Angeles (and more) plus reflections of moonlight from the Pacific. It was a gorgeous little flight. I think it's the first time I've flown into P.S. at night and was surprised that you can see Desert Hot Springs and route 62 all the way to 29 Palms well before you get over the mountains to see Palm Springs itself.
On the leg of my flight from Chicago to L.A. I was seated in the last row in the middle section of a 767. It was the first time I used my Mac during a flight. I had a couple of years' backlog of movie reviews to read, plus some iTunes.
Upon arrival at Palm Springs I got a brief, delightful bit of the tail-end of the day's 100-degree weather. The taxi had been waiting with windows open, but when I got in, the driver closed it up and turned on the A/C, to my disappointment. I told her where to go, giving her my usual simplification of "It's right at the base of the Tram Road." For those of you who have not visited Palm Springs, a direction like that is the local equivalent of saying:
I live on the Ellipse at the base of the Washington Monument, or
I live on 5th Avenue, in the Empire State Building, or
Just take me to the Space Needle, or
The Forbidden City, and step on it, or
Drop me off in Red Square, please.
But it didn't work. After the driver suggested a route going in the direction completely opposite to where I wanted to go, I had to give her turn by turn directions to the Tram Road. Still, she was better than the taxi driver who took me to the airport 10 days ago. He picked me up 20 minutes late only after careful coaching via cellphone.
August 28, 2004
Top 10 SF Movies
Tonight's vegetarian option for the grand 20th anniversary dinner at GNI was don't-eat-the-fish/don't-eat-the-chicken. Jell-o for desert.
I understand the board announced the creation of a privacy/security/legal committee today. In our cabin we're calling it "Campland Security." I'm outta here.
The vegetarian option at camp has been a side-amusement all week. At first I had thought they simply dispensed with it, or had decided to go with the "just don't eat the meat" choice. But after a couple of days a veggie cabinmate of mine alerted me to the presence of a wheeled table, away from the serving line, near the kitchen door that seemed to have dirty cooking dishes on it. When I went up to it and pulled back the wadded aluminum foil I found tofu! Having located the very discreet vegetarian option, I perceived that while someone in the kitchen knew the very, very basics of vegetarian cooking (i.e., no meat), their knowledge extended no further. The first dish I had was, I guess, baked tofu. Great hunks of tofu, warmed up. One day at lunch we had a dish called "Beans & Mayonnaise." The ingredients seemed to be canned navy beans (well drained) mixed with coleslaw dressing.
Last night at the pig roast the vegetarian option was [drumroll please] salmon! Yes, chunks of flesh from a carnivore. Thinking back, perhaps the grilled tuna at Saturday night's dinner was meant to be the vegetarian option at the otherwise fleshy feast. I'm thinking someone told the BBQ company "no meat" which means different things to different people.
Fortunately I am an omnivorous vegetarian.
August 27, 2004
Nude Protest in NYC
Kirk Douglas Way
Airport Road will be renamed Kirk Douglas Way later this fall.
Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, were two of the valley’s greatest philanthropists, supporting Desert Regional Medical Center, the Palm Springs Desert Museum, the American Cancer Society, Angel View Foundation, the Braille Institute, the Desert AIDS Project, Parks for People and the Palm Springs Youth Center.
The Stuff of Iowa Dreams
August 26, 2004
Tricks of the Trade
Now I own a Utilikilt. They're here at GNI and the guy who sized me at Dore Alley was way wrong. The kilt that fits me is 2 inches smaller (waistwise) than he recommended. Survivor Utilikilts have got the best pockets, but the web says production of those is suspended, and the men here didn't have one in my size. They did, however, have a Workman's Utilikilt in my size and it was black. I have received small cheers for my twirling ability already.
The weather has been overcast, but still warm. The heron-like bird still hangs out below the spillway, but it is shyer now. Andy is in camp, plus our cabin has two charming young men, Andrei and Eric, assigned to us for showers. They say they've been together 11 years, 2 months and 20 days (or something like that), but I think they can't be that old. They must've met in high school.
August 25, 2004
Is This A Heron?
Spotted this just below the spillway. Got to see him make one unsuccessful grab for something to eat in the water.
The decoration of our cabin seems to be pretty much complete. Our theme is, as always, "Bring shit; put it up." Greg, a founding member of the cabin, gave us that mission several years ago, and we've held to it since.
August 24, 2004
From The Spectrum in Utah:
To the editor:
The Opinion page of Aug. 11 contained an article entitled "Gay TV just latest affront to society," written by Benjamin Nickle, in which Benjamin, based on his personal opinion of homosexuality and non-specific criticisms of TV programs having homosexual participants or themes, asserts that "a strong stand must be taken to defend traditional American values."
I watch both heterosexual and "gay" TV programming and, when comparing content, generally find programs with gay participants or themes to be less violent, more intelligent, less foul-mouthed, more humorous and more understanding of others.
I am an 80-year-old, secure, heterosexual Marine veteran of World War II and Korea with four adult children and two grandchildren. Perhaps it is my security which prevents me from sharing Benjamin's fears.
August 23, 2004
Camp, What Again?
Swift Boats, and all those guys
I'm at the GNI Gathering now, which should be almost obvious to many of you. One difference this year is that GNI has had the campsite owners set up wi-fi hotspots in the camp office, the dining hall, and the auditorium. When I posted to Ron's Log last night I was in the dining hall where, at that time of evening, they show a movie. It was Camp, of course. But my point is that in the darkness I felt something brushing up against my leg, something like a flying insect. I brushed it away and it came back. I gave it a second really good brushing and it landed on my hand. When I brought my hand up in front of my Mac's display (the only source of light in the dining hall other than the TV itself) I saw this GIGANTIC spider in silhouette nicely posed. It looked too artificial, like something from Arachnaphobia. Without pausing to scream like a girl, I flipped it off into the darkness, trying to aim it away from the other movie-attendees.
Of course a big question in everyone's mind this year (and by "everyone" I mean ME) was whether I had been in the desert long enough to have lost my ability to tolerate cool nights Pennsylvania woods. The answer is, not quite. I could tolerate them a bit better if I had brought my sleeping bag, but in order to conserve luggage space (well, I couldn't very well blog without the Mac!) I chose the "linen rental" option which means I've got one sheet and one fleece blanket to sleep under. 't would be more than enough in Palm Springs, but here I have seen actual DEW on the grass (grass!) in the mornings. I don't know how the locals tolerate it!
Friday night was the most interesting as we had good, heavy thundershowers all night long. They were classic, but windless. Long rumbling thunder, occasional nearby crashes of lightning, steady drumming on the tin roof. Would've been good sleeping, but it was all too entertaining for me.
Saturday continued to be cloudy and showery, which we could've tolerated well enough, except we had to vacate this campsite and spend the day at another several miles away, due to an "error" in reservations. There it was a much smaller space, not so nicely laid out, and lots of motor vehicles. Not lovely. Lot of clock-watching. Hot-tubbing helped (we don't have hot tubs here) and bingo worked for some people (we only do bingo at night).
Back here at our delightful home camp, we've got a nearly full cabin - waiting only for Andy to arrive on Wednesday. The coffee maker is going on, and later today we should have Sirius radio.
Tonight the movie is Die Mommy Die. That should go over well with this crowd. The live entertainment last night in the auditorium were a group called [something like] The Honey Boys. I glanced at them as I walked past on my return to my cabin. If you think you might like a gay boy band with their clothes on, then maybe they're for you. I kept walking.
As always, the Gathering is all about seeing old friends from all over the world. Sunday and Monday are the days for that, during which time all the new friends get integrated too. Lots of familiar faces from Boston and New York are here, of course. Some from Palm Springs. Many read Ron's Log...many more don't. I even had one long-time cabinmate who didn't know what a weblog is! How did I fail him?