Generation gap 2010

April 17th, 2010 by John Morris

My daughter, Beth enjoys watching Philly sports teams. It hard for her to do so while living in New York City where the sports are NYC-centric. She found a high tech way to have it all. It’s called Slingbox, and it is very cool.

Slingbox requires their unit, internet and cable TV. After a modest installation event, she is now able to sit in her Manhattan apartment and watch our local hereos on her laptop. For that matter, she can do so anywhere she has a computer with an internet signal.

Small tweeking is needed from time to time. The Slingbox sensor will move off target and require correction. Lately, she has had a new gremlin to battle.

It seems the remote control changing our VIOS cable box is also changing her Slingbox VIOS cable box. She can change it back from where she is, but I can also inadvertently change it yet again.

She emailed us to set a better barrier in front of her sensor to avoid battling remotes. She told her Mom she knows it’s me because the channel changing lands her on FoxNews. She also said who else but Dad watchs that channel.

Say what? FoxNews is the ratings leader among the cable TV news channels. While I agree it may be only somewhat “fair”, it is not “balanced”. It decidely conservative. It stands alone amidst the other, liberal news channels who find amusement in baying at FoxNews’ haunches. Spend ten minutes listening to Keith Olbermann’s nightly show, and you’ll hear a lot of FoxNews bashing. It reveals his fears and frustrations.

But back to me.

What my daughter, Beth – and probably my son, Adam – don’t give me credit for is watching about as much MSNBC as FoxNews. I favor the Morning Joe* show and as you just read, I also watch Olbermann because he is a brilliant writer. I try not to be one of those who denigrate someone for everything they do just because I either disagree with them or what they say makes me uncomfortable.

Final thought: to be label a conservative doesn’t bother me because it is more accurate than calling me a liberal. Like most Americans, I’ll view each issue differently, but I am embarrassed to write I often view with suspicion those championed by people I don’t like. There are folks on both sides of the political line who fall into this category, i.e., O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Beck.

* Joe Scarbourgh is not a liberal, but his show is peopled by mostly liberal co-hosts and guests.  He’ll be jettisoned as quickly as the NBC higher ups can justify it. Just like Bill Kristol at the NY Times.

Computers in my life

April 11th, 2010 by John Morris

For me, it all started in 1985.

To multiply my work output, the company bought a KayPro 16E computer. This early manufacturer had the humor to call it “portable” at forty pounds. Also heavy was its price tag: $5,500.  Personal computers were all the rage then. I reasoned I would save gobs of time by computerizing the office functions. This did eventually happen, but it took massive prep work. Spending hours to save seconds is for programmers not power users. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about time and computers: there must be balance and a payoff.

Twenty five years later, I still fight the cost/benefit battle. Now instead of running my office functions by computer, I blog, tweet and Facebook with one holdover from days of olde: writing a monthly newsletter for my Veteran chapter.

I feel qualified to comment on the state of  computers in today’s era.

Blogging can be described as serious writing that takes itself too seriously. I’ve know only a few people read these blogs. This means this exercise is mostly for me. It helps keeme sharpen my writing skills while marking the passage of time. Anyone can blog, and if it falls flat, it can be deleted with no harm done.

Facebook is the current top dog in social networking. Being on Facebook allows me time with friends who are no where else. It is here where I can say whatever I like. Then anyone can respond right away and then I can respond, and on and on and on. I don’t do things like “Mafia Wars” but many do. It’s that time thing again.

Twitter fits my style better than Facebook. I can tweet what I want to the Tworld as long as I can keep it within 140 keystrokes. My followers can respond, but it’ll be a page away from the original tweet so it’s not as cluttered. The space limitation is an excellent writing discipline. Soon enough everything I write will fade into some electronic trash heap not to be seen again. One other plus is I can follow famous people like Bill Gates, Tonic So Fa and the still alive Abe Vigoda.

Email is the oldest of the social messaging services. It began as a business communications, but it quickly became an essential part of home computing. We communicated electronically to create a trail and to also get in and out fast. It seems to save time and allow us to get messages to scores of people at once. However, email has fallen on hard times. It’s not used as much as before. New and hipper toys like Instant Messaging are preferred by younger folks who seem to be forever using them.

I am glad I have lived this long and been able to see how computers now serve mankind. The best part of where we are now is computers are so flexible we can mold them to fit our lives. Using computer and their offspring devices to enhance our lives is decidedly personal. I’m sure you’ve found yours by now.

If you’re like my son, Adam you’re always ahead of the curve.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.