Archive for category Geek

Whiz Kids

Today I am off with my 8th grade Academic Team for an all day competition at the state level. It was hard work with hours of practice and competing to make it this far. We have had to go against schools three and four times our size. And we are a slice of America—the kids are black and Arab and Native American mixtures, with even a white guy thrown in. Three are girls, we have Protestants and Catholics and even a Muslim. And we have kicked some serious rear end to get here.

As anyone knows who hangs out with these types of kids, they are as weird as anything. Each has a distinct personality that, oddly enough, meshes with the others. To watch them play together and joke around is a strange experience if all you have seen of school teams is the dreary sameness of athletics. The jokes of the Academic Club are bizarre and most adults would not get them. They kid each other about race and religion, about being fat and thin, about habits and loves and politics—definitely no politically correct kids here. In fact, they make it a point to be as un-PC as they can. Really, they are a scream.

It is not the case that a school’s Academic Club is made up of the smartest kids with the best grades. No, the three components of a winning team are knowledge, speed and teamwork. If one is missing the kid is unsuitable for the team. These do not easily translate into the best performance in class. Academic Club type kids can be a bit quirky, sometimes bored in class and not always the most popular. But put them together and they understand immediately that they are among their own kind. Expect surprises.

Once during a practice some members of the boys’ basketball team stopped by to have a look at their school’s Academic Team. They began observing with good natured laughter at the oddities before them, but once the practice began the athletes fell quiet. To a man they had the same look upon their faces—incomprehension and amazement. One said, “How do they know all that stuff?” How indeed. And some of those athletes were ‘A’ students.

They share some things that might explain why they are as they are. Except for one girl—the sharpest among them—they come from intact families. They read a lot—constantly and everywhere—and they read some very odd things. They watch TV perhaps as much as any kid their age, but the TV they mention most is The History Channel and The Military Channel. None are particularly into computer stuff but all are addicted to Harry Potter and Twilight. None have boyfriends or girlfriends. They seem to have no vices yet are aware of the fleshy attractions of this world. And every one of these kids is perfectly comfortable talking with adults and can easily see though any sham and insincerity. Don’t even try it. Face it: They know more weird stuff than you and they are smarter than you. Deal with it.

Still, they are kids—but especially demanding and precocious ones. They need your time and they enjoy it immensely when you laugh with them. You need as well to be able to laugh at yourself. Never forget that one day these kids will run the country.

Exam Time

Tomorrow I am back to teaching after the Thanksgiving break. But lest none think I was simply sitting around eating, drinking and making merry, I also took an exam.

You answered 33 out of 33 correctly — 100.00 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 77.8%

Average score: 77.8%

It was the second time I took it. The first time I scored a 97 percent. I missed the last question:

33) If taxes equal government spending, then:

A. government debt is zero

B. printing money no longer causes inflation

C. government is not helping anybody

D. tax per person equals government spending per person

E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

The first time I answered (A) Government debt is zero. I confused ‘debt’ with ‘deficit.’ I was on my third glass of wine then, so may I be excused?

When I was in college all my associates had a good time reminding me that my History and Political Science degrees would not amount to much, that I would never have real money. They were right about the money, but at least I can smoke them on internet quizzes.

Oh…I am better looking too. Which explains why I got all the girls. Which explains why they were right about the money.

Operation Aborted

As usual every morning when I am not in my tent somewhere upon God’s green earth, I sat down at my desk, coffee in hand, and went to my blog. That is, I tried to go to the blog. After displaying the page, Internet Explorer 7 said,

INTERNET EXPLORER COULD NOT OPEN HTTP://THERETURNOFSCIPIO.COM. OPERATION ABORTED.

And then it closed the page.

I am not one to take this lying down, so I went to work. I spent some time ferreting out the cause of the problem. Odd, IE 7 worked with other sites. Also odd, the blog opened with Flock. So it was something in the HTML code in the blog itself.

Reading another blog gave the clue. I have sitemeter installed as HTML code in the theme I use. I removed the code and all was well. Of course, the blog will no longer collect stats, which irritates me. Anyway, sitemeter will simply have to fix its code problems with IE 7, as the browser is the most popular in the world.

And please do not advise me to simply use Firefox or even Flock as my regular browser. Both are useful alternatives to IE 7 for most folks, but Firefox will not accept the programming I have set up for my Logitech wireless laser devices. And Flock will not work as intended with the add blocking software I use, SuperAdBlocker. I should mention that removing all adds, animation, banners, DHTML, flash and ‘fly-ins’ remarkably improves internet speed.

It was interesting that while searching the web for a solution—and one such is here—many geeks simply adopted the fall back position of blaming Microsoft. That company is a convenient whipping boy. The reason is envy. Wildly successful businesses, people and nations always had to deal with this deadly sin of the mediocre.

This is the real reason why so many inferior cultures, countries and peoples do not like the United States of America. They suck, and we don’t.

End of argument.

Update: More here and here. Geeks are in a feeding frenzy.

Update: The problem has been resolved by sitemeter.

So Far So Good

All the data have transferred here from the old site by the boys at Oregon Web Team. All that needs to be done is to access my domain through an HTML editor—I use FrontPage 2003—so I can change this ancient WordPress theme and add some plugins. 

It pained not being able to write for a few days. Most bloggers get into the habit of regular writing. Being denied the daily ‘fix’ of putting cyber pen to cyber paper was unnerving. Mornings are for Bible reading, prayer and writing—in that order. And all of that is accompanied by coffee. Excellent coffee. Mill ground. French pressed. From Guatemala. And no, you cannot have any.

I have two mugs of Joe that are so grand that they last me from 2 AM until around 4 AM. And do not even think about trying to take my coffee away. Remember I am well-armed, and my associate Smith & Wesson is amply represented in my home.

Anyway, the need to write, seven days denied me, can now assume its normal course.

Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, I do not know.

Stay tuned.

Update Redux

The WordPress update to 2.2.2 went perfectly. So there will be a few changes in the next few weeks. You have been warned.

They will be changes for the good. More writing, I hope. More techie and bloggy stuff.

Wee.

Update

Today is the day I will finally get WordPress updated. All the software and plugins should be ready by 5 PM Portland time. There are many new, new things I want to do with my blog that I could not do until I updated everything.

There is more: Since I began my teaching career 15 years ago I had spent every summer in some ‘wild, weird clime,’ usually in Central or South America. This summer I spent working on a tree farm. The result pleased my bank account but left your writer tired and drained, and certainly in no mood for much writing.

There is more, but all will come in due course. Stay tuned.

Program Notes

Posts will be a bit thin around here for a bit. The reason is that I am planning a major upgrade to the level of sophistication to my blog. Things like RSS feeds, tags, technorati, del.icio.us, digg, sphere and so on. Never heard of them? Fear not, for they are strangers to me as well.

But not for long. I have a lot to learn in a short time. As I am a bright and handsome fellow, I anticipate only the normal level of difficulties.

The first step is learning to upgrade WordPress. Once I accomplish that all else will ensue. I imagine two or three weeks.

I am also going to design my own theme for the blog.

Something else: I live in Oklahoma. I chose to live in Oklahoma over the other states. The runners up were Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. So I figured that since I am an Okie I should look the part. I bought these today.

And these.

So I have the 4-wheel drive, the gun, the accent, the Stetson hat, the attitude and a red neck—and now the boots. And I love Jesus, the flag and the military. And of course:

I lack the belt, but all things come in their own time.

Blog Bugs Redux

Yahoo responded to my request to automatically upgrade WordPress version 2.0.2 to the latest version, 2.2.1 with an odd and complicated e-mail that explained why it will not do the upgrade until it has thoroughly tested it. I have had WordPress on the yahoo server for almost one year and though several versions of WordPress have been released, yahoo upgraded none of them.

Well, Ok, but I need the upgrade now. So I ordered WordPress Complete, by Hasin Hayder. It has a chapter covering upgrades. I am going to attempt it myself.

Of course I will backup all files first. But even if something goes really awry yahoo has what it calls ‘snapshots’ of all my files. This allows the restoration of any file that has been altered or corrupted. It reminds me of the ‘restore’ function on Windows XP and Vista.

Posting and comments seem to be working, but much else is not.

I am learning patience.

Blog Bugs

I began using WordPress as my blogging software in August of last year. I chose yahoo as my server, as I have a business account there. Yahoo offered ‘automatic upgrade’ as an option. At the time WordPress used version 2.0.2. There have been several upgrades offered since then by WordPress, the latest being 2.2.1. Yet yahoo never automatically upgraded my original WordPress. And my old version of WordPress has gotten quite ‘buggy.’

Upgrade I must, and so I have contacted yahoo. So many options of WordPress have simply stopped functioning. It is getting annoying. If yahoo does not upgrade for me then I will have to either attempt it myself or hire a pro to do it.

In the meantime I am using a different look for the blog, one that is undemanding and so commits fewer errors with my now buggy WordPress than the other theme.

I fear trying to upgrade manually, as the process seems to my non-PHP and non-MySQL trained mind to be fiendishly complex. One mistake and I might lose all of my WordPress files.

Such a loss to Western Civilization would be incalculable, greater even than the burning of the library at Alexandria. Thus must I proceed with care rather than haste.

While awaiting a WordPress upgrade, I stand on the tree farm unamused.

Men And Trees

Alas! The demands of the tree farm where I am working this summer take up much time. My usual blog time is much decreased, at least for today.

I work with summer employees called ‘interns.’ They mostly hail from high school and college. To a man they are a great bunch of guys. Their day is spent mowing, weeding, pruning and generally working in the sun and bugs and humidity to keep the farm gorgeous.

My day is spent driving around the farm and checking up on them and taking loads of photos. My vehicle is a 4 wheeler. I had never driven one before, and my first few minutes on one was hazardous to the health of any onlooker.

Here are some of the photos.

 

 

 

I will be writing soon unless I head out camping this weekend. But stay tuned in any case. The safety of Western Civilization depends upon it.