Merry Christmas 2011

It is that time of year again. When too many people are spending too much money, buying toys for “Santa” to “deliver”, and overeating to “celebrate” the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the offspring of the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. For at least the few seconds it takes to read this short post, think about the living person Jesus for whom this Holiday (Holy Day) exists.

Luke 2:10-12
New King James Version (NKJV)
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Happy Birthday Jesus.

Following Jesus is not a “religion”, it is a personal, one on one relationship.


Automotive Design Engineers

Time for me to vent a bit after working on my automobile on and off this week. You see, I drive an old junker that was new in 1984. As it is so old it "nickel and dime"'s  me with small needed repairs every few months. This week it has developed an electrical short somewhere that is keeping it from starting about 90% of the time. The other 10% it may start and run just fine. Or it may start, then run long enough to die at an intersection, then not start again that day. That is "fun". I must now find that short. Oh joy. Oh happiness. Oh glee … Oh my.

"What does this have to do with automotive design engineers?", you ask. Since you asked so politely, I will tell you. My first inclination was to check the tune-up chart and see that the car was overdue for a tune-up. So, I took the bus to the auto parts store, a two hour round trip, and bought the parts to do a tune-up. I dread doing tune-ups on this car. Some dingbat automotive design engineers decided that if one could easily get one's hand down between the engine block and the wheel wells there was too much room. So, they made sure that to get one's hand down to put a socket on a spark plug one must have the hands of a four year old child. My hands are the hands of a large, 50 year old, adult male. I need to find a four year old child to work on my car …

No, not really. But I once again have cuts and contusions on my hands wrists and forearms after swapping out the spark plugs on this car. Now let us discuss heater cores.

I have a bum heater core in this car. I have bypassed the heater core by looping a hose between the cooling system inlet and outlet that circulate hot coolant through the heater core. I also have a brand new heater core … in its shipping box. "Why is it not installed?", you inquire. As you so nicely inquired, I will tell you. I am certain the same, drooling, half-wit, automotive design engineers that I mention above determined the location of the heater core. It is on the firewall, beneath the dashboard, behind all the other components that fit under the dashboard. That's correct, one has to remove the entire guts of the dashboard to get to the heater core. A single 24 hour day is not enough time to do that for us mere, ordinary, shade tree mechanic, mortals.

So, all you automotive design engineers with such brilliant ideas, I hereby consign you all to repair your own designs. As a "shade tree mechanic". Every day. For forty years. Then maybe you will rethink your asinine design decisions. Have a nice life in that back yard, under the hood and in the dash of your poorly designed cars …

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Donna J. Maxwell – Tribute to a Friend

My friend Donna died last week. I was not able to attend her funeral, so this is my “Goodbye, you will be missed.” to Donna. As most of my contact with Donna was business related that is the perspective from which I write this article.

I started my business in 1989 setting up a RealWorld Point of Sale system on SCO Xenix for my very first client. No, Donna was not connected to that venture but she heard about me “through the grapevine” from the CPA that did work for that business. Soon after that job was over I was contacted by Donna to help with a problem on a multi-user DOS system (Either PC-MOS/386 or Concurrent DOS, I do not recall exactly.) at Baker Energy, Inc., a local small petroleum reseller that is now defunct. Donna was the in-house accountant for Baker Energy. Donna was a good small business accountant who “knew her stuff”. Later Baker Energy switched to the Factor accounting software for petroleum businesses running on IBM AIX Unix. I was called on by Donna to help with that too. From that first contact I developed a friendship with Donna that lasted over 20 years.

When Donna needed help with a tough computer problem I was the guy she called. We shared angst many times over crashed Microsoft Windows systems, cantankerous serial printers, backup failures and network communication problems. I guess you could say I was “Donna’s geek” when it came to Donna needing computer assistance. When Donna changed locations or changed jobs I was eventually called upon to come fix some computer problem at the new location. Donna also called on me to assist with her home PC several times. I could always count on a glass of Southern Tea (Meaning sweet and cold with ice of course.) or a cup of coffee (Black, no sugar, thank you.) and good conversation when I worked on Donna’s home PC.

The last time I worked on Donna’s home PC was to set up a new Microsoft Windows 7 based system given her by a relative. Donna gave me her old PC to do with as I please. I wiped it clean and installed Mandriva 2010 Linux on it to use as a demo system. It is still sitting here by my desk as I type this. This was late last year in 2009. Donna was finishing up cancer treatments for lung cancer and was very hopeful that she was well and it was over. Unfortunately, Donna was not well and it was not over until last week when Donna passed away while at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN. At least now Donna is not having to go through all that pain. For that I thank God.

Donna, goodbye my friend. You will be missed.

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