Thumb Drives

In a spasm of nerdiness, I decided to take one of my thumb drives with me to Montana. I had a small database that I had spent a fair amount of time designing, and the paranoid in me was afraid that my house would burn down while I was away…….

Anyway, once in Montana, an occasion arose where we needed to move some documents from one pc to another. While some of the ‘summer friends’ were gathered around, I said something like: “I know, we’ll copy it to my thumb drive and then to the other pc”……

I might as well have spoken the words in Chinese… one had any idea what I was talking about.  Flash drive, I mean memory stick…you know, one of those storage devices for files and documents that we all use….. It was pretty funny, in retrospect.

So, when I stumbled upon this site, I just had to write this post. Take a look at the site……here’s another example:

I can’t stop laughing…….


Exile on Main Street

For the past eight years, the Agricoli have travelled to Montana in pursuit of relaxation and trout. Introduced to the concept by my in-laws, who have spent the last 20 summers doing the same, the annual rite has taught us to love the Big Sky country, fly-fishing, and the camaraderie that is a part of each.

Each year, we have stayed at the same small resort that is a collection of (very) rustic cabins, a summer home to less than a dozen RVs (most of whom stay in the same spot year after year), and the site of a small cafe that serves breakfast and lunch.

Nothing much to see, but very, very special. Hard by the western bank of the Gallatin River, I can be fishing in less than five minutes, and have a reasonable chance of catching a nice Rainbow or Brown trout. Rarely do we travel more than one mile to find and catch nice fish.

And, if the urge to stand in the stream abates for a short while, there is plenty of conversation to be had, chores to be done that help the owner maintain his property, and coffee to consume in the cafe. Ray, Darlene, Bill, Ray Ray, Smokey, Shirley, John, Bobbie, Fred, Joyce, Scott and Nicole…these are the people we have come to know over eight years. Friends from all corners of the US, varied in background and economic circumstance, all friends that get to spend the summer with each other.

So it was on the seventh day of our ten day visit that I emerged from the cozy confines of the cafe, fortified for a day of fishing by too many cups of coffee and a breakfast fit for a lumberjack instead of a plumpish city slicker. Moving to my cabin to don my fishing gear, I was interrupted by Joyce, the manager. Could she ask a big favor of me? Of course……I stood ready to handle whatever chore or task she might throw my way. Well, you see, she said, I made a mistake in the reservations, and some people need to stay in your cabin tonight…..maybe you could spend the night with your in-laws in their RV, or you are welcome to stay in my spare bedroom, just for tonight, please?

Just then my wife arrived, taking a break from her fantasy vacation as a waitress in the cafe. We could only look at each other and agree to the request. Thanks so much, and I’d appreciate if you could get your gear out of the cabin soon so that we can get it ready for the folks that are arriving this afternoon. Moving into our cabin, our home in Montana, so to speak, we began to pack. What could we do? Sorry, sweetie, but there is no way I am sleeping in the RV….there ain’t enough room for me, you, them, and Pepe (the dog), not to mention all of the late night activity that we all seem to have to deal with these days. Well, I sure as hell am not sleeping in that spare bedroom….have you seen it? And she has two dogs that bark all the time.

And so it was that we decided to hie away to Bozeman, and seek out a hotel room for the night. On the quiet drive into town (about 25 miles), we realized that, in all of our travels to Montana, we had never spent a night away from the campground. We love Bozeman, but it has always been the place we went, not the place we stayed.

Our temporary home was to be the Best Western, on Main Street.

Not a bad spot, to be sure, and close to all of the hot spots; The HomePage, Plonk, The Bozeman Angler, and all the rest of the things that attract us to the town several times during our vacations.

But, suddenly, we were cut off from the sounds of the river, closed into a room that only served to remind us of the absence of the space of Montana, removed from the pleasure of sudden encounters with our summer friends. We could have been in any hotel room in any city. Bars, stores, coffee shops, all with a different spin than what we know in our hometown, but not different enough to remind us in each glance, or hear, or smell that we were in Montana, on the Gallatin River.

Exile on Main Street……..

In A Land Far, Far Away…….

…the Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin ended the so called Pax Americana and likely has initiated a cascading series of events that will, ultimately, lead to war of a most difficult type….wars of scarcity.

Victor Davis Hanson provides some of the detail, which should be read by following the link.

Some excerpts:

Lost amid all the controversies surrounding the Georgian tragedy is the sheer diabolic brilliance of the long-planned Russia invasion. Let us count the ways in which it is a win/win situation for Russia…

Most importantly, Putin and Medvedev have called the West’s bluff. We are sort of stuck in a time-warp of the 1990s, seemingly eons ago in which a once-earnest weak post-Soviet Russia sought Western economic help and political mentoring. But those days are long gone, and diplomacy hasn’t caught up with the new realities. Russia is flush with billions. It serves as a rallying point and arms supplier to thugs the world over that want leverage in their anti-Western agendas. For the last five years, its foreign policy can be reduced to “Whatever the United States is for, we are against.”…

The new reality is that a nuclear, cash-rich, and energy-blessed Russia doesn’t really worry too much whether its long-term future is bleak, given problems with Muslim minorities, poor life-expectancy rates, and a declining population. Instead, in the here and now, it has a window of opportunity to reclaim prestige and weaken its adversaries. So why hesitate?…

Indeed, tired of European lectures, the Russians are now telling the world that soft power is, well, soft. Moscow doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, the European Union, the World Court at the Hague, or any finger-pointing moralist from Geneva or London. Did anyone in Paris miss any sleep over the rubble of Grozny?

More likely, Putin & Co. figure that any popular rhetoric about justice will be trumped by European governments’ concern for energy. With just a few tanks and bombs, in one fell swoop, Russia has cowered its former republics, made them think twice about joining the West, and stopped NATO and maybe EU expansion in their tracks. After all, who wants to die for Tbilisi?…

We talk endlessly about “soft” and “hard” power as if humanitarian jawboning, energized by economic incentives or sanctions, is the antithesis to mindless military power. In truth, there is soft power, hard power, and power-power — the latter being the enormous advantages held by energy rich, oil-exporting states. Take away oil and Saudi Arabia would be the world’s rogue state, with its medieval practice of gender apartheid. Take away oil and Ahmadinejad is analogous to a run-of-the-mill central African thug. Take away oil, and Chavez is one of Ronald Reagan’s proverbial tinhorn dictators.

Russia understands that Europe needs its natural gas, that the U.S. not only must be aware of its own oil dependency, but, more importantly, the ripples of its military on the fragility of world oil supplies, especially the effects upon China, Europe, India, and Japan. When one factors in Russian oil and gas reserves, a pipeline through Georgia, the oil dependency of potential critics of Putin, and the cash garnered by oil exports, then we understand once again that power-power is beginning to trump both its hard and soft alternatives…

Military intervention is out of the question. Economic sanctions, given Russia’s oil and Europe’s need for it, are a pipe dream. Diplomatic ostracism and moral stricture won’t even save face.

Instead, Europe — both western and eastern — along with the United States and the concerned former Soviet Republics need to sit down, conference, and plot exactly how these new democracies are to maintain their independence and autonomy in the next decade. Hopefully, they will reach the Franklinesque conclusion that “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”…

We are at a crossroad in history. If Russia gains control of energy access and distribution to Europe, then Russia gains de facto control of those ‘reduced’ states. With Europe removed from the table, the only players left are dictators of the worst sort and the US. IMHO, we either make a stand, militarily, now, or we make a stand later, when it is really going to cost blood and treasure.

NOTE: I’m out of here to the wilds of Montana. If the reader(s) want to engage in debate, do not take my silence as assent…….

At My Age…..

…..I can’t do the things I used to be able to do. Or so the saying goes. But now comes the news that things might not be so inevitable:

The question of what causes aging has spawned competing schools, with one side claiming that inborn genetic programs make organisms grow old. This theory has had trouble gaining traction because it implies that aging evolved, that natural selection pushed older organisms down a path of deterioration. However, natural selection works by favoring genes that help organisms produce lots of offspring. After reproduction ends, genes are beyond natural selection’s reach, so scientists argued that aging couldn’t be genetically programmed.

The alternate, competing theory holds that aging is an inevitable consequence of accumulated wear and tear: toxins, free-radical molecules, DNA-damaging radiation, disease and stress ravage the body to the point it can’t rebound. So far, this theory has dominated aging research.

But the Stanford team’s findings told a different story. “Our data just didn’t fit the current model of damage accumulation, and so we had to consider the alternative model of developmental drift,” Kim said.

If aging is not a cost of unavoidable chemistry but is instead driven by changes in regulatory genes, the aging process may not be inevitable. It is at least theoretically possible to slow down or stop developmental drift.

“The take-home message is that aging can be slowed and managed by manipulating signaling circuits within cells,” said Marc Tatar, PhD, a professor of biology and medicine at Brown University who was not involved in the research. “This is a new and potentially powerful circuit that has just been discovered for doing that.”

Kim added, “It’s a new way to think about how to slow the aging process.”

Where do I sign up?

Music Through The Generations

It’s the time in our lives when friends start throwing parties for their daughters. These parties can take several forms; sometimes a party at the home of the parents, which is nice, and sometimes the form can be a BIG party at a hall. The latter form means tuxedo, band, and LOTs of people.

So, last night, we joined 500 or so of our closest friends to celebrate the coming out of 5 daughters. A great time was had by all…..

The Voltage Brothers provided the music. As usual, the music begins gently enough, not so loud as to prevent conversation, and not so energetic as to distract the old people from the task of meeting the daughters. But, like a carefully managed psy-ops campaign, the flow of the evening is regulated by the volume and genre of music.

And here is where things are different. When I was in my early 20s and starting to participate in these kinds of functions, the first hour of the party was for the adults. Once they cleared out, it was time to get it on. The music changed, the ‘feel’ changed, and it was time to get down and dirty.

We knew that our parents hated the music that we liked, that we listened to at college parties, and that they considered a most radical departure from ‘their music’.

But the music that we liked is STILL the music that these kids like. I mean, Sixty-Minute Man was an old song in 1972! Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag still gets ’em on the floor.

So, you know, we’re all fighting for room on the dance floor, and sometimes the parents are better dancers than their children…..although it is somewhat disconcerting to see Mom shaking her booty with a little more enthusiasm that her son’s date. Or more likely, it is disconcerting to see my friends’s daughter shaking her booty witht the same enthusiasm that I witnessed from her mother in 1972….

I just wonder about the trans-generational nature of music, and what it means for all of us to have much more in common with the children than our parents ever had in common with us……