A Conversation with Adele

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People have fallen in love with that Adele “Hello” song, and I struggle to see why. Sure, its a decent song, and she’s got a good voice, but it’s a really weird song. Basically Adele (or whoever wrote it for her) took a drunken 2a.m. text from an ex-girlfriend and turned it into a love song. It reminds me a lot of that “Baby it’s cold outside” Christmas song that seems pretty “rapey” when you really look at the lyrics.

Back in the 80’s I had a radio scanner, which most people used to listen to fire, police, and even airplanes. With a simple modification it got cellular phone frequencies. It was sometimes fun to catch someone’s phone conversation, but often they were one-sided for some reason. I could only hear one person talking, and although they came in clear, the other person couldn’t be heard. I would have to infer the responses of the unheard person by what the one person said. Modern cellular frequencies have changed, so the scanner isn’t much use any more. But:

Since Adele’s song only covers her side of the conversation, you have to use a little imagination and imagine what the responses might be. It’s something my daughter and I like to do with songs on the radio in general. So the other day we’re driving down the road and “Hello” comes on, and we found ourselves holding a conversation with Adele. A conversation that seemed really appropriate for the lyrics of the song, if not for the music and the way she sings it.

A Conversation with Adele:

Hello, it’s me
Yeah? What do you want?
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything
Not really, why drag up all that old crap?
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing
That’s not really my concern any more

Hello, can you hear me
Barely. You must still be on Verizon
I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be
When we were younger and free
Look, I’ve moved on.
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet
That’s all over with now.

There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles
That’s why we broke up, that and you’re a cheating whore

Hello from the other side
Please stay over there.
I must have called a thousand times
470. My lawyer made me keep a log of them.
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
Thank you but please stop calling.
But when I call you never seem to be home
It’s called CallerID. You’re the reason I have it.

Hello from the outside
Seriously? Get off my property. My girlfriend’s calling the police
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
Too little, too late. Have you been drinking again?
But it don’t matter it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore
Just let it go, please? I’m getting married in six months.

Hello, how are you?
I’m fine. Please, find another boyfriend.
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself I’m sorry
It’s just the Tequila talking, you were always a sloppy drunk.
I hope that you’re well
Yes. I’m fine.
Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened
I’m not giving you my address, there’s a restraining order on you.

It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time
What? What the Hell are you saying? Is that a threat?
*click*

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Vive’ la Evolution!

No – not of people. Of computer stuff.

When I was young our first computer was an Atari-800. Basically a game system with the added benefit of being able to program in BASIC. It wasn’t much but it was fun to mess around with. Computer programs came printed out in magazines, because there was no internet. If you were lucky, you had someone to help call out the program for you while you typed it in.

Conversations would go something like this:

Okay new line – 5400 If x is greater than number string plus y then go sub 2300

For hours. Then you had great fun finding all your errors before finally getting to play a text-based game with no graphics. If you were REALLY unlucky, the game code was bigger than your computer memory and 3/4 of the way through it, the computer would pop up a message “memory full” and all those hours of typing went for crap.

People these days will talk about the computers they build in terms of terabyte drives and Gigs of memory. But for the most part it’s just plugging in a few parts and everything works. The first modern computer I built took days, because I had to manually set com ports and software interrupts with little DIP switches. The PC builder in the early 90s would turn the computer on, figure out what still didnt work, and then turn it off and tinker around in the case. It still took kind of a nerd to do it. These days almost anyone could build a computer, given a shopping list of parts.

But the FIRST computer I ever built was nerd heaven. It didn’t really DO anything. At least, I never could make it do much other than count forward or backward.

My father brought home the kit from a business trip. It was the type of thing in the 70s that engineering students would build and use in school to learn about electronics and computing and programming. It came as a green board and a bag of parts in various little bags.

You had to know how to use a soldering iron. Now THOSE were the days of computer building. So after hours of searching through little baggies and breathing in fumes from lead-based solder, we came up with something that pretty much looked exactly like this:

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It had a display of a whopping 7 digits, three more than the average clock, today. I never really understood most of the stuff in the included books. Programming the thing was through “assembly language”, two digit hexadecimal codes that you punched in, in order. Like trying to type in BASIC but in Cantonese. I didn’t understand a word of what I was doing, but I could follow a list of instructions. A8, Next, B9, Next, 3F, Next. The books below weren’t much help. I was in elementary school, these things were designed for engineering students. But the PROCESS was fun, even if I never really got the kit to do much.

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So imagine my surprise when computing escalated into gear that cost thousands, and then slowly started coming down. I remember when laptop computers could only be affordable for doctors and lawyers. Now you can go to Walmart and snag one for a few hundred dollars. Building a decent PC is for the most part more costly now than buying one, but you get to choose what you want, at least.

Then along came a revolutionary little device, the Raspberry Pi. The Pi just turns the whole computing industry around. Instead of bringing a computer home, plugging it in, answering a few questions about where you live and license numbers, then playing WarCraft for 37 hours, the Pi is a tinkerer’s device.

It’s no bigger than a pack of cards, and as thick as two decks stacked together. It comes with 1GB of Ram, ethernet, USB, and HDMI out, as well as a number of software-defineable input-output ports, and a complete Operating System. The incredible thing is, it only costs $35. They can be had cheaper without all the excess ports, perfect for someone building an imbedded device (a computer designed to do one function and nothing else – such as run a security camera or intercept iPhone commands and turn on lights and open a garage door).

raspberry-pi-2-sd-card-100569129-origPeople have done all sorts of things with them so far – even built a “supercomputer” cluster from a few dozen Pi’s and some LEGO cases.

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They’ll play some video games (mine craft included), act as media players, work as controllers for network storage, robot brains, etc.

imagesBest of all, you get to get the old soldering iron back out and add stuff to them. There are a number of extra pins to let the Pi interact with the outside world. I really can’t wait to get one and see what it can do, just for the heck of it.

It’s come a long way since the Intel SDK85 kit…

One if by sea, Two if by Femur.

So last Sunday I had a pretty awesome hike. Drove up to North Carolina with a couple of good people, and walked 9 miles through snow and cool weather. Had a great supper and headed home.

Everything changed on the ride home. My daughter, who is 13, texted me about getting a skateboard from Grandpa for her birthday. I sent the following text, which turned out to be a lot more prophetic than I thought it would be.

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So just a few hours later I’m getting off the interstate on the way home and the wife calls all frantic and such. The kid broke her leg. And not just anywhere, she broke it above the knee, on the femur. By the time I got home, there was a fire truck, an ambulance, a sheriff’s deputy car, and several nosy neighbors standing around. They were working on her and trying to get her doped up and put on a stretcher.

They drove her to the hospital and we followed them, beginning a long and arduous night that wouldn’t end until about 3am. The doctors at my local hospital (most people in town have nicknamed it “The Pine Box” for a reason) decide they don’t have the facilities to treat her, and want to transfer her out to another place that can take care of her. So at around 1:30 in the morning we head to Columbia, SC. My wife rides in that ambulance, and I follow along the interstate.

This is after having 3 hours sleep the night before, and hiking all day. So by now I’m pretty tired and seeing things and I’m REALLY glad it’s 2 in the morning because if there was heavy traffic I’d be playing bumper cars.

I get to the good hospital, and have to go in through the emergency room entrance, which seems to be a homeless shelter of sorts. Security is finally convinced I belong there, and they lead me all the way across the complex to the children’s wing. The on-call guy comes in and tells us she’s getting a titanium rod in her leg, to help fix the bone in place and heal the leg up.

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Bob the therapy dog stops by.

She decides at this point that her skateboarding career is over. A fitful three hours later they come drag her off to surgery. The doctors and nurses at Palmetto Health Richland were just great. They treated us like one expects to be treated at a hospital. The fluids never ran out (which often leads to an incessant beeping noise in the machine), she never wanted for anything, and when you called them, they were there in a minute or two.

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Kind of an odd piece of art for a Children’s Hospital, but funny.

We stayed until Thursday afternoon, and came home with a brand new walker (yay, it’s like hospital Christmas), a chair with a built in potty seat (not yay), and a rental wheelchair. However, the way insurance works, we have to return the wheelchair, but we own the leg attachments, the seat cushion, and the anti-tip bars on the back of the thing. Really strange.

Friday morning we get the bill from the Ambulance ride. Medical people are nothing if not efficient.

 

A snowy start to the hiking year.

So, after a long drawn out, confusing discussion on meetup, and several last minute drop-outs and no-shows, 3 of us made the short journey to the NC/TN border last weekend. It was out attempt to close a gap from Devil Fork, to Sam’s Gap. Both are along roads straddling the NC/TN border. I had called Uncle Johnny’s shuttle service in Erwin, TN a week before and arranged a shuttle for 6. However, on the morning of the hike, only 3 of us showed up.

So, when I discovered we were going to be WAY earlier than expected, I gave them a call, and was told they would send someone ASAP. Along the way we got to see a good deal of snow on the sides of the road, and Jim was beginning to wonder if he should have brought along his traction devices for his shoes. I for one, was glad he didn’t. It’s hard enough keeping up with Jim on a normal day, much less when he has extra traction. Unfortunately I realized when we arrived at the parking spot, that I had forgotten my trekking poles in the seat of my car, back in Columbia, SC. I also forgot my gloves (I would later find them in the house that evening). Trail Magic came through, however, and off to the side of the trail someone had left a decent walking stick, rough cut from some hardwood. It looked like the type of thing you would make in a hurry when you forgot your poles. I took it with me, figuring it was left by the trail for a reason. Finally our shuttle driver arrived and took us to the other end.

Jim, Ken and I were dropped off after a missed turn and an intriguing conversation about a hiking dog (named Jerry Garcia) that hangs around Uncle Johnny’s. After being dumped on the side of the road, we picked up our very light packs and headed off on the trail. Day hiking is not really my forte’, as I’m way more used to planning for overnights or two-night trips. But having the light pack on was definitely a plus. 9 miles along the route was tough enough, since straight out the gate we had to go up around 1500 feet in slush, snow, and ice. Having 5 pounds on my back was MUCH better than 25 pounds. Almost right away I drank some of my water and grabbed some spare water in a creek, since it would be near the end of the hike before we ran across anything else.

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The hike itself was nice. We would hit spots with no snow, then spots with 8 inches of snow. Coming downhill in thick snow was actually fun, since some of it was slushy. I could put my foot down, which would slide about a foot forward, then repeat with the other foot. It was a bit like skiing in places. We stopped about 5 miles in and had lunch, sitting on the few bare spots we could find, then it was up and over a final hill, and the push down to Sam’s Gap went rather well. I searched for a few caches near the end, but snow and ice made in a bit difficult in spots.

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The closer we got to Sam’s Gap, the more people we saw heading into and out of the woods. The trail got well used and muddy, just in time for us to hit a short section of road before getting in the car. I dropped my walking stick where I found it that morning, hopefully someone else will find comfort in it like I did. IMG_2322

Afterwards, it was on to Papas and Beer in Asheville, where I got a huge Salmon Caesar salad, which was one of the best I can remember having in a while.

It was on the way home that my wife called frantically and said my daughter had broken her leg, but that’s another story. So – it took me a while to get around to making my hiking video for this trip, but here it is: