Category Archives: Greg Burgas

November Ramblin'

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a couple recent podcasts by Arthur at AmeriNZ dealing with the topic, broadly stated: “Are online relationships ‘real’?” I was talking over these podcasts with a couple guys I see on the bus each evening. One suggests that if the relationship generates an action from the other person, then it is a relationship.

Of course, it could be a one-sided relationship. Let’s say you were following Ashton Kutcher on on Twitter and retweeted all of his best lines; unless Ashton reciprocated, it would really be much of a story. But when you are motivated to take some action, and they respond in kind, then certainly, some real human interaction is taking place. I see an article that I believe – because I listen to his podcast, read his blog – that Arthur would interested in for its content. And as often as not, Arthur acknowledges that in some way.

Here’s the odd thing I experienced this fall. There’s a guy in my office. He’s a perfectly nice person. Someone sent out an e-mail asking if we wanted to contribute to a wedding gift. Oh, he’s been engaged? Really? I had no idea. Now this guy sits about 20 feet from my desk, lives (somewhere) in my neighborhood. I say hi to him but I don’t know anything about him, or he much about me, I suspect.

Whereas I know about Scott’s sons, Nigel and new baby Ian, and Greg’s daughters, Norah and Mia; they in turn know a bit about Lydia. I know more about Scott and Greg, and more importantly, interact with them more substantially, than I do the woman who I see on the bus every evening.
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Wednesday, the wife had a follow-up oral surgery. After the ordeal last year, it seems that six of her lower teeth didn’t have enough gum cover for six of her lower teeth. Without gums, the teeth could rot and fall out. So tissue was removed from one part of her mouth to create gum tissue. She’s recovering amazingly well. The in-laws came to our house this year to help Carol and to celebrate Thanksgiving, which was fine.
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I was doing research at work a couple months back, when I came across some New York State law:

EDN – Education
Article 17 – INSTRUCTION IN CERTAIN SUBJECTS
801 – Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents
ยง 801. Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents. 1. In order to promote a spirit of patriotic and civic service and obligation and to foster in the children of the state moral and intellectual qualities which are essential in preparing to meet the obligations of citizenship in peace or in war, the regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery (including the freedom trail and underground railroad), the Holocaust, and the mass starvation in Ireland from 1845 to 1850, to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state. The boards of education and trustees of the several cities and school districts of the state shall require instruction to be given in such courses, by the teachers employed in the schools therein. All pupils attending such schools, over the age of eight years, shall attend upon such instruction.

I did not know that. Surely, this is law that must have been passed long after I attended school – though it seemed we did seem to spend a lot of time on the Irish potato famine. Just found it interesting and can only imagine certain people making political hay over it.
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The bitter tears of Johnny Cash. The untold story of Johnny Cash, protest singer and Native American activist, and his feud with the music industry
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Caring for Your Photographic Collections.
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Hen House Five Plus Two’s In the Mood actually Ray Stevens, the song that first informed me that all music can be done in chicken. The beginning of The Muppets’ Bohemian Rhapsody was a reminder of same.
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Wonderous invention.

ROG

Let's Talk About Race. Again?

A few things I’ve seen have brought me back to the topic of race, not the least of which is Greg Burgas’ declaration that he is not racist. A bold statement, that. Certainly, I don’t recall anything he’s written – I only “know” him electronically – that would suggest that he is. I wouldn’t be bold enough, though, to say that I am without prejudice. I WOULD say that I work very hard to know what my biases are in order to counteract them.

I think the problem with race and racism generally is that we get caught up in these simplistic myths. Though the Civil War supposedly ended slavery in 1865 – as I noted in the talk I plugged here – there were vestiges of neo-slavery in the US that lasted up until World War II.

Or the notion that South was terribly racist, which it was, but that the North was just the epitome of racial tolerance. I’m thinking of Phil Ochs’ songs such as Here’s to the State of Mississippi or Neil Young’s Alabama or Southern Man. By pointing out the sins of the South, it seems to have given the rest of the country a self-congratulatory free pass. Yet, it is the South, which has had to face its racism more directly, that now has more black mayors, black city council members than the rest of the country.

And the source of that attention to the South was not limited to the US. Mark Evanier posted this episode of Great Britain’s That Was The Week That Was, a satirical review that ran in the early sixties, hosted by David Frost. Check out the piece starting about five-and-a-half minutes in that runs for three minutes or so; a warning – liberal use of blackface and the N-word.

The conclusion that a threshold has been met really never comes when the first person gets there. When Obama was elected, people – lots of people – seem to think that “We HAVE Overcome.” It’s NEVER that simple.

Jackie Robinson is the classic example; when he joined the Dodgers in 1947, did racism disappear from baseball? Of course not. It took a decade before every team had at least one player; if memory serves, the Yankees and the Red Sox were the last, a full decade after Jackie had broken the barrier, and indeed after Jackie had retired.

There are a lot of folks including Howard Stern, in his occasionally salty language, that believe that racism is what’s at the bottom of the rampant hatred for President Obama. Probably, but I’m thinking about how prejudice has tread in the past eight years. After 9/11, there were lots of bigotry and even attacks on Arabs and Muslims, and people who some yahoos THOUGHT were Arabs or Muslims. Some black comedian said, in a widely-understood comment, “Now black people AREN’T the most hated people in America!”

Then we have Obama who is black, but it would be politically incorrect to attack him on that. So they can attack him on being Muslim! They’re still fair game, aren’t they? Throw in that he’s a socialist, communist AND a Nazi – he REALLY needs to hone in on one philosophy and stick with it – and all vestiges that it’s his race that is the problem are washed away. Except that, when you strip away all of the lies, the only truth left is his race.

I’m going to revisit this soon in the context of a book review.

ROG

Torture and other fun topics

I suppose it oughtn’t to be necessary to say, but I’m against torture. Dick Cheney’s been rebuked. Not so incidentally, I recognize his right to speak; I was just hoping that he wouldn’t exercise it right away. Most Vice-Presidents (Nixon in 1960, Gore in 2000) GO AWAY for a while.

Jaquandor, in touting someone else’s disgust with some conservative talk show host’s ramblings about waterboarding, was rather eviscerating of (yawn) Hannity who was likewise braying that he’d undergo waterboarding and “he’d do it for the troops”, I thought, “OK, you blowhard. But let’s do it right. Let’s have someone grab you off the street, throw you into a van, blindfold you, and drive you to someplace you have no idea. Then let’s have them strip off your clothes, deprive you of food for days, not say a word to you except to tell you to stand up or lie down; let’s have them randomly beat you. And then let’s have them waterboard you. No cameras to record your bravado. No knowledge that after ten seconds it’ll all be over. Let’s have them waterboard you, over and over and over again, until you scream for no more. Sounds about right to me.

Meanwhile Greg talks about Charles Krauthammer, moral relativism and torture, which you should just go read.

But there was a concept in Greg’s piece that reminded me of a somewhat different situation. In October 1972, I had to go in front of my draft board in Binghamton to maintain my position that I was a conscious objector, which I had declared when I had registered for the draft about a year and a half earlier, and which I had to deal with because my draft number was so low – 2. One of the questions was what I would do if someone attacked my mother. I said I would defend her and protect her. Then, I was asked, would not going to fight a Hitler be a protecting my mother against attack? My response was that it is one think to respond to an immediate threat of an attack against my mother; it was far different to intentionally put myself in a position to to fight and kill people. Perhaps this is moral relativism too, but regardless, I was granted a c.o.; then because the draft law was winding down, I wasn’t drafted anyway, even for alternative service.

Here’s another blogpost that had an impact on me this week, by Thom Wade: I hate that rape is an acceptable metaphor for minor things. Among the examples, “Stop Raping My Childhood, George Lucas.” Thom links to other banal rants as well. It is SO obviously wrongheaded that Thom should not have had to comment.

Finally, a personal, somewhat painful recollection by SamuraiFrog about family and friends and rage and therapy. “Everyone tells you to just get over it and move on, stop living in the past. But living in the past isn’t the problem.” I related to it more than I can say; OK, more than I am willing to say.

ROG

April Ramblin'

I briefly attended that vigil for Binghamton yesterday. Would have stayed longer but for the fact that it was cold, occasionally rainy, and I had the child, who has been sick recently, in tow. She may not have understood the point of the gathering, attended by about 45, including Albany’s mayor (who, not incidentally is, running for re-election), but I still wanted her to be there. That event, along with the story in question, probably prompted this response from me.

THE best television newsperson to come out of the Capital District of New York State, Ed Dague, is in chronic pain. Touching story. I met him at least twice, which I should write about sometime, I reckon.

Greg finds legislation he just can’t get behind.

Gordon touts Robert Johnson, as well he should.

They are remastering the whole Beatles catalog. Given the fact that I’ve already bought it all about thrice (US LP, UK LP, CD), do I want to buy this AGAIN? No, yet the Past Masters package sounds annoyingly intriguing.

Ken Levine talks about Point of View, one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H. Did the TV show House steal it? Didn’t see the House ep, but I have my doubts.

15 free downloads to pep up your old PC, which I haven’t tried yet, but I figure if I post it, it’ll remind me.

I’m getting fairly obsessed with getting the Denver mint state quarters. All I need are Hawaii, Washington state, Missouri and, most problematic, Pennsylvania, the eldest. Oh, and the District of Columbia; just got the Philly mint version this week. Haven’t seen the Puerto Rico quarter yet.

My good buddy Steve Bissette discusses, in great deal, including 27 8 by 10 color glossies, Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, the transitional first issue by Alan Moore, John Totleman, and himself that starts off the neat book I just received.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Speaking of Swamp Thing, the co-creator of, and later Steve’s editor on, the title, coping as well as one can, given the circumstances, but there’s a movement afoot to replace the comics he wrote or edited and, to that end, for people to contribute to a Len Wein comics checklist. I always liked his work during my days of reading Marvel Comics.

So THAT’S what happened at the Albany Comic Show Sunday, before I got there.

ADD’s Eisner picks. I’ll take his word for it, since the only thing on the list I own is Mark Evanier’s Kirby book, though Coraline has been on back order for about a month.

Evanier tells A Story You Won’t Believe about Spike Jones.

I’m so pleased: Two weekends ago, we went to the in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. Last weekend was Lydia’s 5th birthday party at the State Museum. Next weekend is something else again. This coming weekend, Easter, the wife and her mother were trying to come up with a plan to get together. The final resolution – we’re all staying in our respective homes and resting; I mean we’ll go to church and all, but no travel. I for one am exhausted, and so is my wife, so this is a good thing.

Nik from Spatula Forum celebrates five years of blogging by talking about…

Arthur from AmeriNZ celebrates both his 100th blogpost and two years of podcasting.

ROG

Friends

I’ve been thinking about the notion of friends a lot recently.

There are people who I’ve been friends with for over 50 years, longer than some of you have been alive. I’ve known them since kindergarten. But what happens when one of them has…changed dramatically? Are you still friends, just because he attended your ninth birthday party? Especially if you haven’t been in touch much in for the better part of 30 of those years.

I have a friend, whose birthday was last month, turning 56 (thus just a bit older than I). We’ve been friends with since the first day of college, September 12, 1971 (but who’s counting?) But the vast majority of people from college I have no real interest in seeing; it’s not antipathy, more meh.

I’ve been in Albany 30 years and I’ve made some good friends. On the other hand, there are people one sees at church and work that I can say that I hardly know at all, though I see them often.

Fred Hembeck is an example of a good friend who I lost touch with but got back in contact with via the Internet. (When IS that show in April, Fred?) He has written a moving piece about the loss of his good friend Charlie; I didn’t know Charlie, but the tale has such universality that I think you ought to read it here (March 9, 2009).

I’ve discovered that one can develop a friendship through regular participation in something. For a time it was hearts. For some time, it’s been racquetball.

Somehow, I’ve managed to develop friendships with a couple of my exes.

Then there are those people you haven’t even met, but through their blogs and other communications, you get to know rather well. Greg Burgas, an interesting fellow out of Arizona via Oregon and Pennsylvania, was musing on that aspect too – and mentioned me specifically as a friend. And I feel similarly inclined. I know about his wife, his daughters, the accident one of them had, where he’s lived, how he missed a friend’s wedding, his taste in music. I feel an obligation – well, maybe too strong a word – but a desire to please him if it’s reasonable. Recently he said he wished I wrote more on race, and directly as a result of that, I wrote this post.

Thee was this bilious audio of Richard Nixon talking about All in the Family and homosexuality that I found on Evanier’s page that I knew three people might appreciate; two of them I have never met. So this line of “friend” gets murky.

Here’s something that makes it murkier: Facebook. Just in the past week, I have suddenly discovered that I’m now “friends” with a whole new batch of people. Some of them I’m thinking: weren’t we friends before? Interestingly, I noticed that one of them, who I’ve known for years, wrote “in a relationship – it’s complicated”; I queried about this but received a cryptic “noyb” reply.

Back in 1974, I saw Billy Joel in New Paltz. The opening act was a guy named Buzzy Linhart, who was primarily a songwriter. He told us ad nauseum all the people he had written songs for, including this one by Bette Midler:

Interconnectedness

I got one of those invitations to be LinkedIn to a social networking page. I recognized the person, so I said yes. Later that morning, that same guy, who is a sales rep for a database service we use at work called to see how we were doing with the service. (I had previously spoken to him and complained about the interface of the database.) This led me to ask him, “what’s the benefit of the social network?” I can if he can just call me up, I don’t need to be “connected” to him. He explained that people that one of us is linked to is vetted, in a way. I scratched my head, knowing some people with hundreds of MySpace “friends”,e.g., are no more connected than people one night see at a bus stop.

I’ve gone to parties, and because I tend to be the one who tends more to Lydia than her mother on those occasions, I’ll not have a substantial conversation with anyone. I’ve gone to these father/child breakfast things at Lydia’s day care, and except for a couple dads I’d talk with previously, I didn’t really get to know any of them. We are in the same room, but there’s no real connection.

So how does one get to “know” people? I’m on a couple listservs at work, and just by people asking questions and answering them, I get a feel for the way their minds work. Certainly, I’ve got a sense for people via their blogs, but especially when I’ve exchanged music with them. I was reorganizing my music over the weekend – using drawers I bought at a library auction – and the mixed CDs of Green and Dymowski and Burgas and Brown (come back, Kelly!) and Brown and Bacardi all show up in the same drawer. I’ve never met any of them (well, except for Green), but I feel that I know them better than people I’ve seen face to face recently. That’s both kinda weird and kinda nice.
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I’m enjoying listening to discs from Thom (two discs) and Tosy.
ROG

Angry, Nerdy, Toys & Games

Yes, Lefty, I did see Dylan and Costello last night; more soon.

Yesterday afternoon about 4:30 pm, I heard what I thought was thunder in the distance; this surprised me, as there was nothing in the forecast. Fifteen minutes later, the driving rains came, and massive lightning visible in the low sky, with one thunderclap at 4:55 so loud that I literally jumped out of my chair. During this period, went to the various weather channels; the ones operated by WTEN (Channel 10)and WNYT (Channel 13) had people telling me what a beautiful day it was. It was quite surreal. Channel 9, with a real LIVE person, did tell me that there was a rain cell right over Albany at the moment.

And now, inspired, in part, by the return of Greg’s links, though, in the words sung by Carly Simon, “nobody does it better” than Mr. Burgas, a couple things that struck my fancy:

TOYS & GAMES

MONOPOLY GAME SpongeBob SquarePants EDITION. Suitable for Hembecks everywhere.

Go check out Jason in Paris. Jason is some guy in some French city, and in his September 21 post, he talks about the French naming of Monopoly properties. And why you’re at it, go to his September 26 post and find out what this was all about:

EDISON TALKING DOLL – 1890, an expensive failure. I did not know this.

This goes back a ways: Hey kids, get your “Daddy Dearest” Talking Dolls before they sell out!

I’ve seen these on TV and find them creepy, rather than soothing: Talking dolls for Japanese senior citizens.

Web Video Cheat Sheet, a menu of online video sharing Websites.

Commuting by ICEBIKE.

ANGRY

The world’s weirdest and/or stupidest conspiracy
theories.
Well, ONE I believe.

George Carlin: “It’s Called the American Dream Because You Have To Be Asleep to Believe It” [VIDEO]. Carlin: “There’s a reason education sucks and it’ll never get any better, because the owners of this country don’t want it better.” Should you worry about language? I did say it was George Carlin, didn’t I?

STUFF TO CHECK OUT WHEN YOU’RE FEELING NERDY

Blog to commemorate National Chemistry Week (October 21-27).

Climate change: A guide to the information and disinformation.

…and especially…
Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple – Three Lectures by Hans Bethe.

ROG

I AM the Iron Lady

Dennis, are you at the gin again?
Which Annoying B-list Celebrity Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey.

It’s the librarian in me. Cartoonist Doug Marlette died recently, but he’s not showing up in Dead or Alive. The Pulitzer Prize winner was as least as significant as Kerwin Mathews, who “starred in the movie ‘The 7th Voyage of Sinbad’ and “had other swashbuckling film roles in the 1950s and 1960s”, who died on July 5; or Claudia Cohen, the “high-profile gossip reporter often seen on ‘Live with Regis & Kelly'”, who passed away on June 15. So, I’ve submitted Marlette’s name, so far unsuccessfully. Maybe if enough folks do it, they’ll change their minds. They’ve done it before with singer Ruth Brown, who they initially ignored.
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In this worrisome article, an argument against the (mere) censure of the President suggested by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is made, whereas this piece says that censure is an appropriate “senatorial compliment to the burgeoning movement for impeachment.” I would support the censure.
But the main thrust of the former article is that there will be some self-generated trigger to send a population already primed for an attack on the “homeland” to war: Chertoff’s “gut feeling”, followed by a more stark “national intelligence estimate” (NIE) of the situation, compared with 15 months ago, to show that the intelligence community was “correct”. So, say, San Francisco is secretly attacked by our own government and this will justify an attack on, e.g., Iran? Very paranoid, I hope.
In any case, Mark Evanier, who linked to this article nailed it: “If [the new NIE is] right, we’re in for more terrorist attacks. Isn’t it comforting to know that either that’s true or the entire U.S. intelligence community doesn’t know what they’re talking about?”
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A YouTube video called Led Zeppelin – Rip-off Artists. I like LZ, yet this, admittedly, is a hardly exhaustive examination of the appropriation of songs by the band.
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ADD linked to a wonderful reminiscence of the glory days of local TV news in Albany by former anchor Ed Dague (the best news anchor Albany, New York ever had). This is almost certainly true. He justified the link in his mostly comic-related blog because I have a comment.

Scott answers my questions about God and baseball.

I provided 5 questions to a bunch of folks. Here are the replies from ADD and Greg and Johnny B and the person who gave me questions in the first place, Jaq.

Also, I did a meme, and at my request, Mrs. Lefty and Edwin and Gordon responded to it.

Those relationships I get, people I mostly don’t know, but I’ve read their stuff, and they mine. But I was looking at my Technorati thingy, and found that I got picked up by a couple aggregators, including this one. The Internet continues to fascinate and confound me.

Oh, speaking of Gordon, something I did a while ago and forgot about:

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matches

48%

with
CoffeeAchiever


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Take CoffeeAchiever’s MatchMe Test
Take ersie’s MatchMe Test

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Spam is 70. Possibly literally.

ROG

Not Such a Good Friday

I’m sitting in the choir loft last night, listening to the Passion reading from Luke as the lights get lower and lower, and suddenly get a vivid sensation about why I so oppose the death penalty: the execution of the innocent. It was a point I had reached intellectually before, but this was a more visceral understanding that I’m not sure I can explain.

In any case, I’m still feeling rather awful. Looking at computer screens is particularly not recommended, because everything looks fuzzy. So, I’ll be brief:

Thanks to Gordon for answering one of my questions,. One down, about a dozen to go. Microsoft Paint, eh?

Thanks to Scott for embracing his 2003-ness and citing me as the inspiration.

Congrats to Gay Prof for not having to go back to Texas, but will instead be at BMU.

Thanks to uberblogger Mark Evanier for posting a video AFTER I DID. This pleases me, and I’m not sure why. And thanks to Dan for sending it to me in the first place.

Thanks to Lefty’s Mixed CD pals, even Greg, and to little Stevie Brown, Lefty’s intelligent iPod.

Special thanks to ol’ what’s his name who I spoke to by phone yesterday for the first time in a while.

I’m going to rest most of the day so that I can try to sing tonight. I had about a six-note range last night, mostly in the lower register. Wish me luck.

Roger (Finally) Answers Your Question, Greg

Sir:

I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I have a question about black people. As a foolish white person, I have noticed a certain comraderie that black people share even when they don’t know each other. This is something I have rarely seen among us whiteys. I wonder if you notice this too, and if you have any explanation why it’s a phenomenon. It’s very interesting.

You can ignore me if I’m just stereotyping and need to get my head out of my butt.

Greg

Sir? SIR? Really! We’ve exchanged music. I know I’m about two decades your senior, but still…

You my have heard of a term called “white skin privilege”. (I’d look up a reference but I don’t have Internet access – see below). Whether you do or don’t, and I’ll contend that there is something to it, the greeting you see, I suspect, is an acknowledgement of a people looking after their own. Beyond that, there was the fact that there was the common experience. When Nat Cole had his short-lived TV show in the mid-1950s, I will practically will guarantee that 90% of the black people were watching (and obviously, not enough of the white people); ditto with I Spy or other shows with black stars, when that was extremely rare.

You don’t see that many white people doing the head nod with unfamiliars because the white male system is still the dominant culture, even as it becomes less so, statistically, in this country. But it’s interesting that you ask about it these days, because I see it far less often than I used to, when I was in my teens and twenties. There was a sense of solidarity in the common struggle, not just for justice, but occasionally for survival. Maybe it’s because the racial dynamic has changed in the country. So I’m going to assume the correctness of the premise of your question, as far as it goes, Greg. But I don’t think it’s just a “black” thing. I think it’s an “other” thing.

I have seen the nod with south Asians who don’t know each other, but feel – I surmise, since I didn’t ask them – that shared experience of feeling somewhat like the outsider.

When I was going to college in the 1970s, all the long-haired hippie freaks gave the head nod. They surmised, probably correctly, early on, that the values and experiences of those other people were not dissimilar to their own. (Later, though, when hair was not such a sign of rebellion, that assumption went right out the window.)

I find that I get it with bicycle riders, an “us against the motorists” salute.

Find a room of one businesswoman and a dozen or more businessmen. Another businesswoman enters the room, and more often than not I’ve seen it. The look. The “I’m not alone here” look, the “you may have some idea what I’ve experienced” look.

I got on a bus this year with a bunch of teenage, mostly black kids getting out of school, who were, to be generous, rather boisterous. Immediately, a middle-aged white woman and I caught each other’s eye, and in fact, ended up sitting together in our little cocoon from youth. We were surely The Others in this case.
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I didn’t plan to stretch the question-answering for three days, but I’ve been having technical difficulties with my computer at home. I try to get on the Internet; it doesn’t work; I call Time Warner Cable and a technician puts me through all sorts of exercises with the computer, the end result of which being Internet connectivity. For about ten minutes. I did this exercise thrice on Tuesday night, and once on Wednesday night. A techie is coming to my house today. Between 12:30 and 2:30, smack dab in the middle of the day.

ROG