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John's Blog - Random Acts

The Wisdom of Old Guys

price is rightSome years ago I subscribed to Esquire out of curiosity and, in way, desperation. A couple of favorite magazines had fallen victim to the Internet, and closed up shop, leaving me  little in the way of bathroom reading. At $10 a year I figured why not check it out.

Turns out that once past the advertising, you can find some good interviews and well written stories on current events. I don't read the bulk of it, but have found it worthy enough to sustain the subscription. The regular feature I like most, and read almost every time, is a brief one page interview called "What I've Learned". These are typically excerpts of longer interviews, minus the questions... a bullet list of 1-4 sentence statements from an individual. The usually well-known individuals run the gamut of actors, businessmen, musicians, athletes, scientists, etc.

Over the years, I've torn out and saved the most interesting of these, pinned to a cork-board in 'the john'. The vast majority of have ended up being the musings of old guys. In fact, some of them have passed since their interview. Maybe it says something that I haven't found the wisdom and reflections of people my age or younger to be worth saving.

Some excerpts after the break... [go to Esquire for complete articles]

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Dog Years.. Not What They Used To Be

human pet age analogyA few months ago, I was taking Phoebe on her walk.  These days, this isn't much of a walk at all but she enjoys it. She's coming up on 15.5 years old and getting a quarter mile out of her can be a challenge, often requiring a stop about two-thirds the way through. I walk the Dutch separately now, as we like to go for a brisk 2.5 miles over a hill and through a small valley, before I pick up Phoebe.

As I was reaching the last (and slowest) leg of Phoebe's stroll, I wondered about the common assumption that a dog year is the equivalent of seven human years (making Phoebe something like 110). Where did this come from? Also, if based on average lifespans, I'd think it would need some updating as the increase in human lifespan has probably outpaced the canine's. Almost as if in response to my musing, a copy of the Fall issue of Healthy Pet landed in the mailbox with an article addressing exactly that subject.

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Books I Haven't Read Yet... Because of the Kindle

Lately, I've been boxing up some books for a few reasons: to keep Fianna from destroying the nice hardbacks, to make room for other "stuff", and the expectation that we'll move soon and have to do so anyway.

In an indicator of how pampered modern life has become (not just me), I'm running across several books that I planned to read but never did... because I bought a Kindle roughly two years ago. With an ereader on hand, the prospect of prying open poorly binded books to read all the text comfortably, squinting at small type, or propping up a one-pound hardback for extended periods... sort of... lost its appeal.

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External Data Storage: a snapshot in time

I've been tossing out PC-related junk over the last year.... obsolete keybords, mice, cords, etc. Anyone who's worked with PC hardware over the years has tales of the unbelievably inadequate hardware they used to work with... at least by today's standards.

External Data storage is one the most easily quantifiable areas of change with which to bring home how far things have come. When I started playing with TRS-80s at school we had cassette tapes and 5 1/4 inch floppy drives. There were also 8 inch floppies around. After that, the 3.5 inch floppy reigned supreme for many years, mostly available with 1.4MB of storage. Eventually the re-recordable CD became the standard with 600MB or more, then re-recordable DVDs with 4GB (4000MB) or more, and now any number of USB & Firewire devices are cheaply available. For less than $30, I can now carry around 32GB on a drive no larger than my thumbnail.

There was a short point in time though (1999ish),  between the dominance of the 3.5 inch floppy and the re-recordable CD, where the next big thing was not so clear. There were a series of portable external drives that were quite popular. In fact, some PC manufacturers (like Dell) bet on the Iomega Zip drive and let folks configure new PCs with an internal version (I have one of these). 

Pictured here are three drives Buffy and I went through during that time, the Iomega Zip (100MB), the Syquest SyJet (scsi 1.5GB) and the Iomega Jaz (scsi 2GB).  I don't miss them or the two pounds of cabling and power cables that you needed to carry around with them.

The Original Dazed and Confused? Holmes sues Zeppelin.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube videoJake Holmes, an American Folk-Pop singer dating back to the 60's, is sueing Led Zeppelin. Holmes claims to have written Dazed and Confused. In fact, he released the song on his 1967 album. Also in 1967, Holmes played the song when opening for the Yardbirds in Greenwich village. Yardbirds being the group Jimmy Page was in before Zeppelin. Page has always taken credit as the sole songwriter on Dazed.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube videoAfter a listen, it sounds like Holmes has a rock-solid case but  I can't imagine letting something like this eat at you for 40 years.... and it obviously had. Page commented on Holmes' grousing in a 1990 interview.

10 years and a life spent mostly in alcoholism and bitterness... maybe... I mean we've all been there right? But 40 YEARS!?!

If successfull, the statute of limitations restricts Homes from recovering anything except royalties for the last three years. Still a tidy sum... but probably a scrap of what he could have been due.

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