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    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Tuesday 22 August 2017
    Currently at 4:54 AM 57°


    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD
    Monday
    Feb012016

    We Get Letters!

    IMG 1699

    Friends,

    We get a lot of interesting email here at the Secret Alpine Laboratory, and frankly, a lot of the unsolicited email seems a bit off the mark. I'm sure you've seen all manner of come-ons from deposed African princes, for herbal remedies and gadgets claiming to cure all sorts of ailments. This note, however, seems to know all about me—based on exhaustive research!

    Dear bob@bobtherieau.com,
    I am pleased to inform you that based on your professional background, you have been selected to apply for inclusion into the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals. Our research department nominates a handful of potential candidates based on factors such as your current professional standing, recent accomplishments, honors/awards, published articles, as well as information present on authoritative media outlets, social networks, and professional directories. Based on this, I feel that you would make a fitting addition to our elite network of professional women...

    What a lovely honor!

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    Jan222016

    A Very Bright New Year

    A fine photo of my new company car.
    Friends,

    There is every possibility (not every. infinity's a big place. - ed), or to be more precise, a very promising possibility that I will receive good news about a new job today. This will allow me to purchase a new commuting vehicle, a picture of which I've posted above from the manufacturer's brochure.

    The only difference is that I'm ordering the heated seats.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Thursday
    Dec242015

    A Very Merry Christmastime

    A lovely centered picture of a skater.

    Friends,

    I'm not going to sugar-coat it; this year has not been great. Business has been slow and some promising opportunities have fizzled or flaked. Despite that, I've had the good fortune to meet new people and branch out a bit.

    If I've learned anything this year, it's that starting and maintaining a new business is harder than I thought. The work itself isn't the tough part [maybe you should take a moment out of this holiday message that seems to have veered wildly off course and tell the people what it is you do. - ed Not now, I'm on a roll.]. Fixing computers, installing networks, and building websites are the jobs I'm landing most often which is fine and not terribly difficult. The problem is marketing myself. I can easily develop slick marketing plans for other people, but I've always had a issue with selling myself. If I overcome that, I'd be in much better shape.

    So there's my wish for the new year—to get some more business. My wish for you is that you enjoy a healthy and happy 2016.

    Totally doable.

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Dec162015

    Ahoy Thar!



    Friends,

    The good folks at Mahindra may be getting some press for their purchase of Italian styling house Pininfarina, but what you're missing is that they've revamped the Thar.

    What's a Thar? It should look very familiar to you. Think Jeep CJ-7 with a CJ-3A windshield and a diesel engine and you're most of the way there.

    Or, Thar.

    You're welcome,

    - bob

    P.S. FCA, the parent of Chrysler and Jeep should hire Mahindra's agency and fire whoever it is they hired to make this. The video above actually spends time showing what the Thar can do in a pretty straightforward way. I know, it's weird.
    Wednesday
    Dec092015

    Je Suis Californie

    California bear
    Friends,

    Terror attacks in the United States are on the rise with Colorado and San Bernardino being the latest examples. What I find distressing is that one of these events is called terrorism and the other isn't. One has prompted shouty people to shout about condemning non-pink people and one global religion, but those same shouty people are loathe to shout about a beardy pink fellow who follows another global religion.

    We were justifiably alarmed by the attacks on Paris. We changed our avatars and proclaimed our allegiance and solidarity with an entire country. The terror attack on San Bernardino on the other hand, sparked a national dialogue. Did you overlay a California flag over your Facebook avatar? Me neither.

    I didn't even consider it.

    "America, what a country!"
    - Yakov Smirnov

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Monday
    Sep282015

    Nothing But Trouble

    Apple haterz
    Friends,

    I wrote this for inclusion in an application package to write for an Apple-centric blog. I haven't heard back from them, but I thought you might enjoy it. Please also note that it clocks in at 299 words, which seemed important.
    Chris, the Time Warner Cable installer arrived early for the appointment yesterday. His detailed tattoos declared his love of mountain biking. His worn and too-large boots showed that he’d been around a while. It was time for me to make the switch from the rural-class DSL recommended by the realtor when I bought the cabin to faster and cheaper cable.

    Connections complete, he poked around on his iPad to turn up the service while I poked around on the Mac Mini to see why the network wasn’t coming up. I should at least get a connection to the router, I thought, but Safari protested, “You are not connected to the Internet.” I’ve never used a Netgear modem with this Airport Extreme, but the modem’s lights were all reassuringly green next to the Airport’s ominous orange.

    “Oh, you’ve got one of these,” Chris sighed, flipping the Airport around. “I have nothing but trouble with these things.” That can’t be, I thought. Apple stuff just works. After decades of troubleshooting and cussing and fixing PCs and third-party gear, I made an effort to keep my own home network as homogeneous as possible. I need to get actual work done, so only Macs, iOS and Airport will do. I’m all in.

    I managed to change the network address settings in Airport Utility and hit Update only moments before Chris took matters into his own hands and pulled the router’s power. “There, that should do it,” he beamed. Green light, connection established, and I was ready to stream the Galaxie 500 deep cuts playlist. If I were a good Apple evangelist, I would’ve told him that the static IP settings weren’t working. Instead, I simply thanked him for his hard work and gave him a positive rating on the survey.

    If you have comments, please leave them on your Pinterest or Instagram feeds and I'll go look for them.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Sunday
    Aug302015

    Our New Offering

    Ampersand
    Friends,

    I applied (again) for a copywriting gig at a reasonably famous craft brewery in a county just South of here and their HR department politely declined the offer of my services. Before I submitted my application, I did my research and spent time on their website. This particular brewery seems to have written themselves into a very deep hole if you think about it. Their site is full of words, their packaging is full of words, and each of their many products have a pile of words apportioned to each product page. You'd think that they would have glommed onto my application like a lamprey, since as you've seen here, I am rarely at a loss for words. Many words. Many lots of enormous words.

    This got me to thinking though—how would I write for beers? Also, how might I write for beers and incorporate (and milk endlessly) a single joke. Here's my product announcement...

    Ampersand Brewing Company Announces Latest Creation

    Ampersand Brewing Company, the premier craft brewer in Northern Southern California's famous craft brewing region, is excited to announce its latest premier craft beer—Additive Ale. Brewmaster Ann Annotherthynge has hand-selected the finest Ersatz hops from the Etcetera region of Austria, bringing the fruity nose and resplendent hearty head fans have grown accustomed to. Using the finest Furthermore yeasts and slow-hopped over months and months and months, the finish is smooth with notes of caramel, grapefruit and leather. Additive Ale will be initially available on tap at finer gastropubs, and in restaurants, and at liquor stores, and supermarkets, and in growlers on our web store, and in convenient six packs, and from taco trucks, and from other places.

    Yup, just the one joke.

    Your best pal in the entire world,

    - bob
    Friday
    Aug142015

    Not The Future

    Change the oil and she'll fire right up!

     

    Friends,

    I applied for a copywriting job at a cute little agency housed in a cute little Victorian about 50 miles away from my piney paradise. 50 miles you say? Isn't that the distance I crabbed about not that long ago? Yes, but the old gig was in a sea level men's room hand dryer, not in an old neighborhood with quaint tree-covered lanes.

    The setting was great, the people were welcoming and the job was something I could do standing on my head. How do I know? During the selection process, I was sent writing tests, including a timed test, that I took to like a kitten is drawn to a webcam. A long week waiting for an answer ended with polite rejection. As is my custom, I asked what I could have done differently as a way to figure out why my application was turned down. I received this:

    "Your qualifications and interview was excellent. You were one of our top three candidates. Ultimately, it came down to the best fit for our company and our future."

    I'm not entirely sure how I might not have fit into the company, since we seemed to get along very well in the interview and subsequent email correspondence. What I'm worried about as I, ahem, gain more life experience, is the perception that I won't be around for a company's future. As far as I'm concerned, I've got another good 100 to 150 years left in the tank. Putting in another twenty until some people might think I should retire is a wildly optimistic number for any business concerns' hopes of longevity if you look at the numbers.

    So what does this mean? It's back to the drawing board, or writing board, or keying board. I'm sure somebody needs the savvy and experience I've earned. Sadly, the folks I had hoped would see that, didn't.

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob

     

     

    Wednesday
    Jun172015

    In Defense Of Yesterday's Technology

     

    Friends,

    I've been a subscriber to a single wireless phone carrier for twelve years, which is absurd when you think about it. Who hasn't switched and flopped between carriers to get the best price or the best signal or to take advantage of a last gasp deal (Hello, T-Mobile!). I was finally able to take advantage of my, erm, loyalty yesterday and also a giant multinational corporation hoping to clear last year's phone model out of the channel to get an iPhone 6 for nothing down. Also, the payments on the new phone with the deal are lower than the old phone, so the monthly is lower. That's the financials, but what about the hardware?

    Brilliant. The camera is lovely, the processor is very fast and migration of data from the old to the new model was reasonably quick when directly connected to the desktop through iTunes. It's bigger than the older phone, but it still fits in a front jeans pocket.

    All that said, there are some problems. My laptop is from (late) 2007 and has been rejuvinated with a RAM and hybrid hard drive (part SSD, part spinning disks) upgrade, but still can't run the latest version of Mac OS X. That means that it has been excluded from the great cloudiverse. It can't share data with the new phone, iPad, or the desktop machine if I turn iCloud on. Apple makes an app (or application, if you will) that allows Windows machines to access iCloud storage, but you can't do that on old Macs. Perfectly functional Macs.

    Perfectly functional Intel-based machines are out. The Power PC machines, like the G4 Cube, Power Mac, Powerbook G3s and iBooks (before iBooks was an e-book purchasing app, or application, if you will) are still running, but out of luck in this ecosystem. Surely you don't want to toss these machines in the bin since they have a lot of useful life left doing the things that most people want to do, like browsing the web or checking email, so making these machines obsolete seems like a waste.

    There are lots of ways around this file sharing problem, like Dropbox, and local file sharing, but the many old machines on my network deserve something better. They've built the company, or at least the ethos of the company, so why not cut them a little slack?

    I know why, but that's the subject of the next piece.

    Your pal,

    - bob

     

    Wednesday
    May202015

    Tramway!



    Friends,

    How do you build a tram system up a steep slope before we invented anti-gravity boots and rock-climbing robots? Helicopters! These "mechanical dragonflies" hauled stuff up the hill to build towers and string cables so that a bunch of guys in the 1960s didn't have to. This video is 25 minutes of your life that you may, as I do, find fascinating.

    Also, the opening set-up shots are worth the time just to see the hotels and businesses that no longer exist—like Bob Hope.

    Come for the nostalgia, stay for the crass jokes!

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    May202015

    Oh, The Technical Issues You'll Have!



    Friends,

    I've been working on cleaning up some of the issues around here, but it's a bit of a slog to go back through ten years of posts to find what's broken. Here are only a few of the fun things that have gone wrong at your favorite Jaunty Little Blog:
    • When I moved to the new hosting platform, some of the images didn't make it over. There are broken links everywhere and I'm going through the archives to return the missing files. It's a bit of a mess.
    • Changing to the new template has damaged some of the closing tags for links in the posts. This means that links are just spilling across entire articles instead of ending where the link is supposed to end. I'm not entirely sure why this happened, but I'm going through each post and editing tags. So far, I've made it back to 2012.

    I'm sure there's a lot more to do, but I appreciate your patience while I continue to work on restoring some order.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    UPDATE: I'm having a harder time finding old pictures than I thought. It turns out that my naming convention wasn't as air-tight as I thought. I hope the Wayback Machine can help.
    Friday
    Apr102015

    Welcome To The Future



    Friends,

    This BBC documentary from 1966 details the technological advances pioneered in California with not a small amount of wistfulness. California's rapid pace is awe inspiring, but there are casualties...

    It's worth your 45 minutes.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Thursday
    Jan082015

    Things I Learned While Staring At Trees

    a lovely panorama this evening
    Friends,

    I was really looking forward to having a respite in 2015 from the nightmare that was 2014. Make no mistake, 2014 was no picnic. I had to quit the job I relied on to get away from an evil boss. Racial turmoil and mass shootings roiled these United States. War, disease and privation made above the fold headlines every single day. Soft media concerned themselves with glossy asses and selfie sticks. Surely, the jackals could take a moment to reflect and step away for a while. This was not to be.

    The Paris offices of French magazine Charlie Hedbo were shot up yesterday by Muslim extremists, killing 12 and shocking a nation. This was one of the few publications that republished the cartoons depicting Mohammed published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, earning the magazine a fatwa.

    The day before, a chapter of the NAACP in Colorado Springs was bombed, leading to hardly a peep of news coverage. Apparently, this wasn't fireworks or a gas leak as some have suggested. Rather, this domestic terror attack was intentional, but the outrage machine has been mostly dormant.

    The 2016 Chevy Volt was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show the day before that. One of its key features is the ability of the car to extend to you GM's "commerce and engagement offering" by showing you ads and offering you coupons when you drive by participating businesses. You can also receive a discount on your insurance via the car's built-in connection to Progressive Insurance by opting into allowing the car to tell them if you've been speeding or doing other naughty things. Hashtag: snitch.

    We have also been bombarded in this nascent year with the news that our New Year's snow storm did not put a dent in California's drought. which is the worst that has ever happened in the history of forever. We will need, it is supposed, 11 trillion gallons of water to cure this deficit, which is an unimaginable and unattainable number. Therefore, we are doomed.

    Or are we?

    Okay, yes, maybe we are doomed. What has changed is that we're being constantly beat over the head with our own failures and our own suffering. The bludgeoning by the media with the cudgel of despair must drive ratings or SEO or clicks or something, but I can see a way to manage the gloom…

    Require the media to offer solutions.

    None of this "spark a dialog" or "encourage a conversation" nonsense. I'm talking about real solutions. If the drought is caused by too many of those little silica desiccant packs in our packages drying out the air, let's get rid of them. If the bombers in Colorado mistook the NAACP building for an Arby's, let's find a way to get them better maps. If French Islamist extremists don't understand that cartoons aren't actually photographs of the prophet, let's give provide them with a better arts education.

    Okay, I couldn't think of real solutions for any of those problems except for this: Never buy a GM product with OnStar. Ever.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    Dec092014

    Kate.

    Friends,

    I listen to a lot of podcasts, which is like radio without the antennas or the static. This week's Roderick On The Line episode discusses minimalism, go-bags, jeans, trendy boots and ends with a reflection on Kates versus Kats versus Kathryns that I've snipped for your listening pleasure.


    Of course, you should probably listen to the whole thing if you're not afraid of a couple four-letter words.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Friday
    Dec052014

    A Small Business, Man

    IMG 1442
    Friends,

    No, I'm not giving up on finding a commuting for an hour, sitting in a cubicle 9-to-5 job, but the benefits of a freelance career have their appeal. For instance, I can step outside and take pictures. Also, Mme. Puppy Dog isn't getting any younger, so it's nice to spend time with her.

    The only hiccup is getting new clients, and recurring clients would be nice. Maybe you know someone who needs a press release or a new website or who'd like to start a direct mail campaign. I know someone who can make that happen.

    You know who.

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Nov262014

    Drought.

     

    Friends,

    August? Really? It's been that long?

    I can explain...

    • My trip to Hemet, discussed in some detail here, was to deposit the final paycheck from the Far Eastern Outpost of a charity. In the intervening months, I've been looking for jobs, trying to keep my house, and other fun activities.
    • "You can't fire me, I quit," seems like a lot of fun to say, but actually doing it is fraught with problems. First, I should say that I was, by my reckoning, the fourteenth employee to be investigated at that charity in the last year. By investigated I mean selected for summary judgement and immediate dismissal. It turns out that when the boss tries to impugn your expertise in public, that boss will make sure you're fired if you stand up for yourself. For instance, I was unable to see into the future to know that the boss' internet connection in a hotel conference facility on the East Coast might be spotty. Nor was I able to fix that connectivity problem. Therefore, I must be the worst and she let everyone know that. I was having none of it.
    • Luckily, I have friends who warned me of my impending separation, so I was advised to quit before the papers could be drawn up. The bad news is that it's pretty difficult to receive unemployment insurance benefits if you quit, regardless of the reason. I'll just go ahead and put my ultimately successful appeal of the denial of benefits in the "other fun activities" column.
    • After a year slogging through a fairly hostile work environment, leaving has been a relief but getting healthy has been a slow process. Slower still has been working out what to do for a living now that I'm all grown up. Freelance copywriting seems the most risky tack to take, but I'm gravitating in that direction. Head over to bobtherieau.com and let me know why that's a terrible idea!

    That's the short version of events. There are some great stories to share from my final days over there, but the holiday season has begun and I hate to do anything that'll adversely effect their fundraising efforts. After all, I wouldn't have stayed there for a decade if I didn't believe in the mission to help people in need of a fresh start. I guess you're witnessing my own fresh start, so cross some appendages that I can make it a good one.

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob

    Friday
    Aug152014

    Hemet.


    Friends,

    I've taken a break, in case you haven't noticed, to take care of life. It's been a tumultuous month or so but you'll be pleased to know that the tumult is largely over. I'll get back to that in a little while, but you should know that I took a little trip to Hemet today.

    I had a check to deposit and the closest branch of my bank is in Riverside County's home of potato farming, Hemet, California. Once I managed to wade through the traffic, the incessant lights and the low-motor skill holders of driving licenses, I rolled up to the parking lot and caught the attention of enough skinhead loiterers that I thought I should head inside.

    Once I was buzzed through the outside doors and the vestibule doors (not entirely unlike this, and you know how that turned out), I was greeted by a pudgy security guard who insisted on shaking my hand and disco playing from the overhead sound system. Friday. Disco. The teller at the end motioned me over, "I can help you."

    Then I noticed the name badge on her teller window. "Excuse me, can I ask you a personal question? Is your name really Shimmy?" "Well, my name is much longer, so most people call me Shimmy."

    "With the disco playing and your name, this may be the most fun bank branch I've ever visited." "Why thank you," she said. "We try." 

    So if you're having a bad week, head to the Hemet branch of my bank. They seem to be having a pretty good time.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Friday
    Jun062014

    Be Seeing You

    Friends,

    It's sort of a salute, really.

     Your pal,

    - bob

    Tuesday
    Mar252014

    Festival!

    A lovely centered picture of a pretty dog.

    Friends,

    It's time for our own cherry blossom festival, so here they are. I'm filled with glee.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Friday
    Feb282014

    Sometimes The Glass Is Mostly Empty

    Friends,

    A big Pacific storm is headed our way today and will bring us some rain. In some places, like my piney paradise, quite a bit of rain. Then this idiocy happened on Twitter (about 500 times from a series of like-minded nitwits)...

     

     

    Gee, really? The two inches of rain today aren't going to turn our arid desert into a tropical rainforest? How about shut the hell up?

    I blame how we've come to understand the word drought. Since we live in a mostly dry place, shouldn't what we now think of as drought be considered normal? It seems like the times when moisture falls out of the sky are extraordinary, not the dry spells. 

    And before you raise your hand to mention climate change or poles shifting or coronal ejections, yes, it's always been this way forever. Dry deserts are not new.

    So let's reset the measurement and get rid of the D word. That way most of us, perhaps with the exception of Ian, can enjoy the rainfall as it was intended. Spoilsport.

    Your best pal in the whole world,

    - bob