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Collected editorials

Beats there a heart of stone

Venture Capital

According to an article in Forbes, prostitutes who have a pimp do better financially than those who don’t. Similarly, entrepeneurs do better if they are hooked up with a venture capitalist.

In like a lamb, out like a lion

I came back to South Dakota in 1999 in time for the winter. It was a hard winter. I had huge piles of snow all over the place. Oddly enough, I can’t convince the natives of that. It seems that in 1997 they had a horrid winter, one that they have talked about for years afterwards. A merely really bad winter was so mild in comparison that they don’t remember it at all.

Since then the winters have mostly been mild – by South Dakota standards, that is. One year Deborah and I felt the need to purchase a snow blower, which we used a fair amount one year, and little or not at all other years. It resides in town, whereas I reside in the country, a mile and a half from the snow blower. This is not as convenient an arrangement as it might seem. Before I can get to town I have to shovel out the driveway which is a mere 100 feet or so long. Fortunately the driveway drifts in badly so I get plenty of exercise.

This winter has been an odd one. Everyone complained that it has been a long, hard, cold winter. I pointed out that it hardly ever got down to twenty below, something that happens in most South Dakota winters. Well, okay, it did a few times, but many winters have been worse. Still, people seemed to think it was a hard winter. I think what happened is that we had some mild winters and people got spoiled. That happens a lot around here. You get a year with rain and people get to expecting to rain every year. You get a summer that doesn’t have a stretch of 100 degree heat, and they get to expecting pleasant summers. You have a mild winter or two, and people get grumpy when the temperature is twenty below. There’s just no accounting for people.

So it was a long, cold, hard winter. One good thing was that there wasn’t much snow. That’s not actually a good thing; in these parts we need snow in the winter to make up for the rain we don’t get in the rest of the year. (Yes, sometimes we get rain – it’s just not something that happens as a regular thing.) The best kind of snow is wet sloppy snow in spring – it provides moisture for the dry months ahead. That’s the kind of snow I want, useful snow.

Be careful what you wish for.

March looked promising for those who were tired of the dark and the cold. The month started out with some warm spells. Yours truly cleaned off his patio and Our Lady and I sat outside in the deck furniture sipping wine. In turn she cooked on the grill on her deck. Excellent. And then all hell broke loose. We went into blizzard of the week mode.

There is something very satisfying about sitting inside a well insulated, warm house and watching snow fall horizontally and hearing the wind howl. A blizzard is a good time to catch up on reading and napping. But there is that one little catch. There is all that shoveling to do afterwards.

Oh, well, it’s scenic. See the pretty picture.

Picture this

When I first bought my main machine, Big Boy, it had a copy of Photoshop. In the fullness of time the hard disk crashed and my photo editor disappeared with it. I had no idea of where the CD was so I lived without photoshop for a spell. Recently, however, I came across the CD whilst looking for something else. I don’t rightly recall what that something else was, but I know I never found it. I had found the CD, though, and I restored photoshop, which is why there are pictures in this issue.

Beats there a heart of stone

Apparently my heart is quite sound except for one small thing – it is confused about when and how to beat. Sometime in 2008 I developed something call atrial fibrillation. The deal is that the atria, the upper two components of the heart, just flop about and don’t beat in sync. This is not a good thing. The problem is that blood can pool in the atria and potentially form clots. Can you spell stroke?

I learned about this undesirable development in December. Not being entirely stupid I contacted a cardiologist who put me on rat poison. The plan was that in March they would do a cardioversion, a fancy name for shocking your heart. The point of this exercise is that your heart stops and restarts back in sync.

The day came, a day called Black Friday. Our Lady of the Large Black Dog and I drove down to Sioux Falls (a mere 190 miles away) to the hospital where the deed would be done. The procedure is simple enough. They check your blood to make sure that it is thin enough (that’s what the rat poison is for) and that you are otherwise in shape to do the trick. They put a patch on your chest and on your back. They put you out and push the button. They bring you out and what do you know, your heart is beating like a metronome.

Deborah was present when I was coming to. Apparently my return to consciousness was a bit erratic. I am told that my sister Lois called and expressed surprise that I actually had a heart. Such a nice sister. Deborah relayed this comment to me and, after a bit of thought, I replied that even a stone could beat. Then I went back to sleep. I remember nothing of this, but I have it on the best of authority that it happened.

Once I returned to the land of the living we did a bit of shopping in Sioux Falls and then returned to Highmore where I took it easy for a couple of days and delighted in my newly restored regular pulse. It’s amazing what science and medicine can do these days.

My heart’s new found regularity lasted until the following Tuesday.

Sniff. Apparently the miracles of modern science and medicine aren’t all they are cracked up to be. The new plan is stay on the rat poison regimen indefinitely. At some point in the future I will sit down with the cardiologist and see if there is a plan B.

Code for your pleasure

The threading engine aka the data flow engine has been updated. It seems to be working. Play with it if you are into that sort of thing.

We are all socialists now department

Our glorious leader assures us that he is not a socialist. I will take him at his word, though I suspect that he is the only one in his administration who isn’t. To be fair, I don’t think that they are intentional socialists. It appears that they are just falling into it. Our great corporations prefer being owned by the government if the alternative means going bust. Yes, technically they aren’t owned by the feds. They merely suck at the government sugar tit, and when the government says jump they say “How high, Sir?” on the way up.

Coming to my census

Speaking of sucking at the government sugar tit, yours truly is joining the ranks of the employed. Yes, I am one of the multitude who will roam the highways and byways, counting the good citizens and the not so good citizens. I look forward to asking embarrassing questions of our citizenry whilst casting a blind eye on their hemp garden out in back.

I am not sure if I rightly understand the task I am undertaking. That’s all right, I will go to class for a week to learn all about how to be a census taker. Do not fear, I will be paid for this. You, dear reader, will be paying for my education. Do not think that I am not grateful; I am and I will remember you in my prayers – or at least I would if I prayed. Would you settle for a mention in my editorial? In any event you have my sincere thanks for your generosity.

One of the benefits of this job is the mileage. I have been told that I get 55 cents a mile mileage. Since the Prius uses approximately 5 cents a mile in gasoline I anticipate a nice little profit. Satisfying as this is, I cannot but reflect on how the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time I was a well paid technologist; today I content myself with the pettiest of scams.

There is an even more unnerving thought – they may expect me to actually work. What a cruel thought, what a dismal prospect. I do not believe it; I cannot believe it. I trust the government; I have faith in the government. Surely, the government cannot expect me to actually work. The entire idea is unnatural; that sort of thing just isn’t done. In better times I wouldn’t worry. However these are desperate times, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Work, that curse of the drinking class, may yet cast its vile shadow upon me.

This page was last updated April 5, 2009.

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Collected editorials