Not a Book Worm — But …

‘Recently on the family email thread, the discussion of book reading was started. A variety of books were thrown into the emails, ranging from Stephen King to H.G Wells and in between.

My own list was varied. I read my bible each day. Occasionally, I will start on a book. If I get engrossed in it. I may complete the book within a week.

There is one book that I am working on. Can\’t get really into, but don’t want to quit reading it. It’s a Pulitzer prize winning book, “The making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes. It’s rather long and detailed.

I am good for about 10 pages of reading before I put it down. Once I complete it I want to read several books by H.G. Wells, one that is slightly connected with the history of the making of the atomic bomb — “The world set free”.

More on reading books later.

The Quietness of the Library

I am in the process of setting up a computer system in our church library. One of the first things I thought about in this process is “Locking down the computers”. I decided to observe a local county library’s way of doing the same. The library is just down the street from my home. This is a small library — Only 10 computers linked to their wired network. They have just installed wifi, but I am not going to check it for now. Just want to see how the “protected ” computers are setup.


  • All are running windows XP professional.
  • all have sound enabled
  •  all have usb ports to allow you to save your work ( assuming you have a memory stick of some sort )
  • Limited programs are loaded.
  • start/run is disabled. no external bat, com or exe files are allowed.

There are some deficiencies noted (so far ) java applications are allowed if accessed through a web page. This means that if you create a web page on a memory stick that has java application within it, you can use your browser to access this application. Voila! An application that you can control.

I have tried the following java application types with good success.

  • 1. ssh client
  • 2. ftp client
  • 3. file browser

None of these cause any harm to their system. I am trying to think of other applications that would be useful if my system at home died. More on this is in a future post.

Gypsy Toast anyone?

I pride myself in being able to easily find items that I search for on the internet, but there is one thing I can’t seem to find. Perhaps one of my readers will be able to help.

During my youth ( approximately 1940 – 1955 ), my mother cooked a dish for breakfast that I really enjoyed. We called it Gypsy Toast. It consisted mainly of can tomatoes in a gravy/sauce type mixture that was poured over toast.

My mother is now in her nineties and doesn’t remember the recipe for this delightful dish. I have searched the internet and found references to gypsy toast, but each time, I find that it is a variation on french toast and no tomatoes in it. I have found some recipes that have what I think were the contents, but none named Gypsy Toast.

One thing I do remember about this recipe was that I am the person that gave it to my mother. I had found the recipe in a Girl Scout manual in the early forties.


Get In the Spirit

Yes! The spirit of Christmas!

Near Wendell, NC one family is really into the spirit. On Lake Myra Road, a fascinating light display with a live Santa Claus in the Yard and a sign saying ” tune to 100.1″.

In this case, the 100.1 is an fm channel being used by the family for a low power fm transmitter. As you drive near the light display with you car radio tuned to that channel, you are treated to Christmas music. Sometimes it seemed as though the flashing lights were keeping time with the music, but that could have been a coincidence.

I am truly amazed at the number of homes that are lit up with brilliant light displays. My wife and I toured a couple of area neighborhoods just to look at the sights.

This is the season! Merry Christmas to all! And a Happy New Year!

Update — 2019, The display has been moved to downtown Wendell, NC.



Perhaps you are familiar with REDHAT, a version of the Linux operating system. UBUNTU and DEBIAN are also versions of the same operating system. ( They are actually called distributions. Versions indicate a possible modification of the original. In the case of distributions, the operating system most likely hasn’t changed, it’s how it is installed, what features are added to it, etc)

Thursday night ( Nov 10, 2005 ), My brother and I attended a meeting of the Triangle Linux users group (TRILUG) at REDHAT’s Headquarters on the NCSU centennial campus. The feature presentation of the meeting was a description of GNOME and UBUNTU. UBUNTU is a new distribution that is built based on the DEBIAN distribution and using GNOME as the desktop interface. GNOME looks a lot like windows desktop screens.

The presenter was Jeff Waugh, who is well placed in the UBUNTU organization and was a former mainstay in GNOME.

From the round of applause at the end of the presentation, I think Jeff’s 2 hour talk ( can you imagine that? Two hours and very few people ever left their seats) was well received. I wonder if many went home and downloaded the UBUNTU like I did. All I have to do now is find a machine to put it on.

Jeff had “jokes” — at least he identified them as jokes, but I guess they were inside jokes which I didn’t understand. I think my brother caught a few of them. His side remarks were funny enough as it was.

I don’t get to “interface” with the linux crowd very much, so I did learn some new things.
1. MOTU. Never heard of this before — means MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE

If you have an extra computer, you might want to put UBUNTU on it and try it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

This was my first visit to the TRILUG. I intend on visiting more often and may even become a member.


One of Raleigh’s pioneer restaurants is no longer

My wife and I decided to eat out at one of our favorite Raleigh restaurants — Tippy’s Mexican Restaurant — On Hodges Street.

Normally you walk in and within minutes you are at a table. We usually eat at off peak times, but this time was different. We were eating around 6 pm. My wife was coming from home and I was coming from work. She arrived first and gave me a call on my cell phone. “Are you sure you want to eat here. I don’t know when we will eat. They are lined up waiting.” We decided to wait and eat at Tippy’s.

The wait wasn’t a very long wait, maybe 30 minutes. While in line I asked someone, “why the large crowd”. “oh, didn’t you know? Tippy’s is going out of business. Tomorrow will be their last business day”, they replied. What a shock!!! Tippy’s has been in Raleigh since 1968 — The same year that I moved to Raleigh.
I have always enjoyed eating at Tippy’s. The staff was always friendly and the food was always excellent.
Sorry to see you go!!


The lure of Old Time Radio

I am not a young whippersnapper! I have said that before.

My youngest brother missed out on all of the “good” drama and radio programs, coming into this world in the fifties. He recently “discovered” OLD TIME RADIO! (OTR).

He exclaimed that his imagination is much better than television — and that is what made radio, your imagination!

In discussing this with him, it has renewed my interest in listening to old programs such as “The Shadow”, “Mercury Mystery Theatre”, “The Lone Ranger”, “The Cisco Kid”, “Lum and Abner”, and “Jack Benny” — just to name a few.

Some of these are available over the internet, some I will have to purchase via tape or cd. But the interest is there and the enjoyment as well.

I regularly listen to 1960-1970’s radio clips of Disk Jockeys that I have heard in the past by way of the internet.

Who remembers, these lines? (with the William Tell Overture in the background)

“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi Yo Silver!”
The Lone Ranger. “Hi Yo Silver, away!”
With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!”

Ahh!! Those were the days!


A Computer Challenge

Recently, my brother-in-law visited relatives in Washington, DC. When he was about to leave for home, they presented him with a computer that didn’t work. He brought it to me with the instructions to “fix it if it is practical, otherwise, pull any parts out that you may want and throw away the rest”.

When I first looked at it, I noticed that the cdrom and floppy drive were missing. It also had the sound of loose parts inside. When I opened it, I found both the cdrom and floppy drive inside, unsecured. Wires were ripped from the front panel, possibly from the loose drives tugging on them.

I cleaned the outside of the case and blew out the dust from inside using compressed air and began my visual inspection.

I have already decide that this is not a practical fixer up, Repair costs (parts and labor) are already over $200. This is mainly a challenge to me. I want to see how far I can get with this pc.

Here is a list of “obstacles” within this computer.
1. ripped wiring between the front case and the motherboard
2. password protected bios (unknown to me or my brother in law)
3. password protected login on win-xp/home (unknown to me or my brother in law)
4. unknown motherboard ( I looked everywhere — both sides of motherboard, still no manufacturer identity)
5. Loud noises from Hard drive
6. Need to re-install cd rom and floppy drive
7. one defective usb port out of two available

Using some of my software tools, I was able to determine that the processor was 1.6 ghz pentium 4 with 256 mb of ram. Hard drive is a 17 gb hard drive.

I now have it working. So far, I have substituted a new power supply and because of the ripped wires it will need a new case, and the hard drive is making noises like it may go at anytime.

I rejuvenated the hard drive with Spinrite, but would not recommend continuing it’s use. I called my brother in law with the news. He has decide to pay for the repairs, so my challenge has become profit ( a little — anyway ). If I had billed my brother as a regular customer instead of giving him the “relative discount”, it would not have been practical to fix.

I have learned techniques that will be useful in other repairs and in troubleshooting. I have made a little money, plus my brother-in-law is happy! The challenge was worth it.


Cranberry Juice Anyone?

About five years ago I had an attack of Kidney stones. It wasn’t my first and it probably won’t be my last. At the time, a friend on mine suggested drinking cranberry juice each day. “it will help with your kidney problems”, I was told.

Not long after that, My mother was hospitalized with urinary tract infection and while visiting her, I found that the hospital was giving her cranberry juice. Hmm, might be something to this cranberry juice.

I began drinking a half a glass of cranberry juice cocktail each morning. Since then, I have had three kidney stone attacks. None of them were painful. Just aggravating. I captured the stones and compare them to my last painful attack. The painful stones were jagged with spikes. The non painful ones were very smooth.

I continued to drink cranberry juice each morning, but was “disturb” to find that a group of researchers did a test that seemed to indicate that cranberry juice didn’t help with kidney stones.

The last paragraph of the article says “The study does not detract from the scientific evidence supporting cranberry juice’s use for urinary tract health, but it does indicate that it is not an advisable course of action for those with a tendency towards kidney stones.”

As usual, I am the exception.

Gas 75 cents/gal – It will never be that High!

Back in the 70’s, I stopped at a country convenience store near my home. I was chatting with one of the owners, who had the Wall Street Journal near him. He was reading about the oil situation. He commented that gas would probably go to 75 cents per gallon. I remarked, “75 cents per gallon, NO WAY!” How wrong could I be?

Now with the results of the hurricane hitting the gulf coast, a new surge of gas price increases is hitting our area. Almost a 60 cent increase in four days. The official reason is that there is no electricity to run the pumps to get the gas that is stored at the refineries in the gulf coast area. According to a news report last night, this area gets 95 percent of it’s gasoline from the gulf coast pipeline.

If you live near your work, you are indeed fortunate. I travel 40 miles one way to work. My vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon. Soon there will be a severe shortage. There may not be any gas to refuel my vehicle. What alternatives do I have?

Work from home – possible on some days
Take vacation days – might be possible
Use my wife’s car – gets slightly better gas mileage
Not a very good list, is it?

We have become so dependant on our cars. Hopefully, this shortage will be short lived. Our economy is in a delicate balance these days. This may cause more problems that just the inconvenience of transportation issues.

Have you considered getting a scooter or a motorcycle? Might not be a bad investment these days.