Friday, July 31, 2009

I uploaded a picture of some berries on the trail next to the Upper Iowa River, next to the Kelly real estate office. I took a few pictures while I was hiking to town, last Wednesday. I walked to Bookends and Beans and then got a ride back to Freeport with Jim and Sherry.
I took my car to a dealer to see about the (Cash for Clunkers) program. He said that my car has too good of gas mileage to qualify for that program. I left him my name and phone number in case they change the rules.
Not much is happening here. It turned out that 2 of my Belkin wifi cards won't work at Bookends and Beans. I can't get past the password. The problem went with the cards. That's surprising because one of the bad cards is newer than the good card. I'll just give those cards away with the laptops that I give to poor people.
I don't have much to say tonight. I'm waiting for parts to come in to fix up old laptops. I'm waiting for my pension check to invest some more in Delphi bonds. I'm keeping my expenses down. Nothing has changed. I'm just sitting at the window of the co-op, blogging away.
That's all for now.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm at the co-op. I uploaded a picture of the front of the co-op. That has the picture windows, which are such a problem for the glare on laptops.
I gave Dave his laptop, today. Just before I turned it over to him I started downloading updates. It was going fast but there were just too many of them. It took an hour and they were only half done. Then it locked up when I tried to run Banshee, (the music player on Linux). Anyway, its working pretty well.
The Democrats are already meeting but the first hour is spent talking about school funding. That doesn't concern me, much. I'll go after I've blogged.
I got a new wifi card, today. It seems to be working well, after I loaded the driver with ndiskwrapper. I only have that on my good machine so I hope I won't need to put it on another one. I need to try this card from Alice's place. Maybe it has the range between there and Bookends. That could save her from spending money on coffee to download her email.
I wanted to talk about goals and disability, tonight.
Even people who are on disability need goals. If your pay is low enough, you might need the goal of saving money by picking up beer cans for redemption. When I was waiting for my VA pension that was how I paid for my coffee. I would bring in extra income by selling beer cans. That also supplemented my income when I was on the VA pension. I had the goal of accumulating silver coins for a safety net.
Now that I'm on a better pension I accumulate money to invest in bonds. So far, I've been concentrating on Delphi bonds. When I have 200 of them I'll branch out into others. The main thing is to set a reachable goal to work towards. I find that saving money helps me to curtail my eating as well. I'm saving money on food that I use to invest in bonds.
Having goals helps you to set priorities. My priority is to have a nice nest egg rather than spend money on eating out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I uploaded a picture of Java John's serving area. They have reliable internet service but it's usually rather slow. I tried, this morning, to buy something on Ebay, and it took me an hour to just fail to make the purchase. When I went to Bookends and Beans, I was done in fifteen minutes.
I've been going around town, this morning, trying to get good internet connection. Usually Bookends is good but not today. Then I went to the co-op and I couldn't get on there. I even tried hooking up to a router named linksys, but it was down. Then I went to Java John's. I got hooked up but even my fast machine moved at a snail's pace. I finally brought my good machine to Bookends and it's working quite well.
That got me thinking about actually paying for home internet. The cable company wants $40 to $50 a month. I might be able to find a satellite company for less. The trouble with satellite is that they will want a year commitment. I might be moving out of the house in a few months, so the cable is the only option. I can't see getting a phone for internet and that is too slow to be worth anything, anyhow.
That brings me to the discussion of poverty and disability. How can you save money on recurring expenses?
I've found that I can do without a normal, (land line) phone. I've gotten a Trac phone. You renew your minutes when you run out. I just don't use it very often so 90 minutes can last me a couple of months or more. That normally costs $30 for every time I renew. I can also take it with me when I'm expecting a call.
I eliminated the cable tv and had satellite tv installed. I get more channels for $30/month. I also eliminated the phone on cable and the internet. I'm having doubts about eliminating the internet. Even though I use the WiFi at coffee shops, that may be more expensive than having the internet at home. I find that I go to several coffee shops to do simple things that I could have done at home. I think I'll look into getting the cable internet restarted. It might be cheaper and I know that it will be handier.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alice entering Barnes and Noble

I uploaded a picture of Alice entering the Barnes and Noble, in La Crosse. It's our favorite hangout, but I feel guilty when I spend too much,there. Not only do they have an almost limitless supply of books but their food is good, too. I especially like the cheesecake. Key lime is my favorite. You can spend hours there just leafing through books and drinking coffee. It doesn't take much to get me to go to La Crosse. Rochester has two Barnes and Nobles. I like them all.
I went to a movie, this afternoon. It was (Paul Blart Mall Cop). I enjoyed it. The guy playing Paul Blart was in surprisingly good condition for someone with a weight problem. All the running around that he did would have wrecked me. I've been kind of avoiding this movie because I felt it would make fun of overweight people. It did to a degree. I think the most objectionable part was the drunk scene. It was where Paul got drunk and made a complete fool of himself. Of course, it could be argued that there are people with that kind of drinking problem. Anyway, it was a fun movie and I'm glad tha I went.
I bought 3 more old Gateway laptops. I had enough parts for most of one, so I figured that I could fix up a few more. I like the Thinkpads better but I have troubles with the sound on them. This will be the last time I bother with laptops so old and slow. I need to get something over 1.3 GigaHerz. for the sound and video. I'm not sure about that being fast enough.
Jim and Sherry just walked in. I'm at the co-op and they'll be stopping here after they've done their shopping.
That's it for now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I uploaded a picture of Jim and Sherry at Bookends and Beans. Jim and I get together for coffee and conversation every Monday. Sherry is Jim's wife.
Today we talked about starting a book club with Alice and Lula as well. We'll be reading (The Left Hand of God). It has to do with how the religious Right has taken over politics and how Liberals shouldn't feel that they have to be left out.
Well all of my computers that can run, are running. I only had one Gateway to scrap out and I think all it really needs is a keyboard.
I bought 3 more Gateways. That will give me something to do, next month. I do like to keep busy with the laptops. Now, however, I've gotten into the groove and I might not need to spend as much time getting them fixed.
Maybe it's time to get serious about the garden. I've been neglecting it. The grass is overgrowing the onions. And volunteer lettuce is starting to grow.
I took my car to a Chrysler dealer, this morning. Even with the (Cash for Clunkers) program, and their rebate, I would have to come up with $10,000. If the house sell, I'll do it. I'll just turn the car around for a profit. But it's free money. I don't see how I can refuse it.
Talking about money, which is one of my favorite topics, here are some ways to reduce your outlays.
1. See about subsidized housing. There are programs that help put poor people and the disabled into nice apartments. It never hurts to look into this.
2. Don't forget food stamps. If you are poor enough, this will pay for your monthly food. If your disability is too high, you might not qualify.
3. Walk or ride a bicycle. You would be surprised at how much money goes to gasoline and car repairs.
4. Quit drinking. Boose is just too expensive. This is especially true if you go to bars. Coffee is bad enough. I combine surfing the net with coffee drinking. I found that if I cut out the cinnamon roll, first thing in the morning, I can save close to $100/month. I may still have to curtail my coffee drinking.
5. Like I mentioned yesterday, eat at home. I covered that yesterday
6. Buy at thrift shops. Charity thrift shops, like Goodwill, will save you a fortune.
7. I would avoid auctions. You have to wait for hours for your item to come up. Then someone else is likely to bid it up, anyway. It's too tempting to start bidding on things you don't really need.
8. That brings up, don't buy things you don't really have to have. We live in a consumer society. We have to fight the programing that we all have to buy and buy. Just get by with what you have.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I uploaded a picture of a band, doing it's thing at Nordic Fest.
I went to La Crosse that day. Alice and I went to Barnes and Noble and leafed through some books.
Today I've been fixing old laptops. I finally got the Gateway to work to my satisfaction. It had an intermittent monitor. and the nine key quit working. It turned out that my replacement parts were worse than the originals. The keyboard and monitor problems were both caused by my not getting them plugged in right. I also had port problems on the PCMCIA ports and the USB ports. That was caused by software. I loaded a live form of SUSE and it worked so I reloaded the operating system. Now I have a laptop that I feel I could give away. It's even got a good battery. I'm using that, now. I'm in front of the co-op, blogging away on battery power.
About poverty and disability. Unless you have another source of income like another pension or investments, you cannot afford to dine out. So stop now. Eating out can cost hundreds of dollars a month and a person on Social Security has to face the fact that he's too poor to spend money like that. Eating at home is the only way to go. I've cut back my eating out to having a banana at the co-op. That only costs 40 cents or so, and I also get to use their internet. I do have a lot of coffee at places I use for internet. A person has to spend a little money for them to justify having free internet available. But other than that forget eating out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I got up early, today. Java John's opens at 6:30 so I went there to upgrade a computer. I uploaded a picture of Java John's front door. It's one of my favorite coffee shops. I like to go there when I wake up early and everything else is closed. They also open up at 7:30 on Sundays. I'm not a deep sleeper so, when the birds start chirping, I wake up. Nordic Fest is in full swing. The streets are crowded and 3 or 4 bands are competing with each other in making noise.
Alice and I went to La Crosse, today. She lives on the main street, here and she likes to get away from all the noise. We went to Barnes and Noble. Neither of us bought anything. I also went shopping for a nicer camera. I want one that would link up to a usb memory card. Unfortunately, they don't seem to make any. They have a lot that would hook up to a computer. I think I would have to have Windows loaded to run them. I'll keep after it. I would like one with a zoom lense as well.
I took a few pictures of Nordic Fest and Barnes and Noble but I have to put them on my Windows desktop to transfer them to a memory stick, and then to my laptop. I forgot to do that, just now.
I overate at Barnes and Noble. I had one of their turkey and cheese sandwiches. It was almost twice as much as I usually eat. So much for my diet.
I've been neglecting talking about disability lately. I've been running out of topics. Today the topic is poverty and disability. The two go hand in hand. Politicians seem to feel that it would be just terrible for disabled people to live comfortably. Therefore the system is geared towards keeping you at a low level of income.
If a person is poor enough, there are all sorts of programs to help him. If you Social Security check is low enough you might get SSI (State Supplemental Income). You can also get food stamps, heating assistance, Medicaid. If you get a decent Social Security check, you lose all of those things. That has a tendency to keep you at the same poverty level that the poorer person is in. Another thing that might happen is that you might lose you rental assistance if you get a job to supplement Social Security. It's a trap. If you can you might want to get a decent job and get out of the disability trap. For many of us there is no way out so I'll discuss things a person might do if he is in that situation later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A rainy day in Decorah

I uploaded a picture of Magpie Coffee shop. It's been a Decorah institution for years. The internet,there, goes to a cable modem,
so most of the time it's really fast. Occasionally, I've had problems getting on line there. They are opened between 10 and 4 on Sundays. When the co-op is too slow or doesn't work, this is where I go on Sundays. Too bad, I couldn't get a picture without a car in front.
I got the last Thinkpad to working. The strange memory problem turned out to be related to a bad CMOS battery. I don't know how that can be. The problem went with the battery. Now I think I'll load SUSE on it, since I can better fix the sound card problem with SUSE.
I got the computer that I sold to Dave from WRAP, back. It had a bad hard drive. I put in another drive, and got it to work. I downloaded the updates, this morning. It's working really well. I saved the hard drive by putting it in the Thinkpad and loading Mint Linux. That partitioner worked better. It still sacrificed half of the hard drive but the other half seems to work.
It's raining on the Nordic Fest festivities. Nordic Fest is in full bloom. The downtown area is blocked off and food stands and music stations are set up there. The parade is tomorrow. Alice and I are going to LaCrosse to avoid it. I don't get many chances to get to LaCrosse, so I jump at any chance.
Tonight I'm helping to set up the float for the Democrats. It'll only take an hour or so.
I'm bidding on 3 Gateway 9300's. If I get them I should be able to get one or two good laptops out of the batch. I've got a lot of left over parts from the last batch. If one of them runs right off the bat, I'll have the ac adapter and hard drive for it. Maybe I can get a good battery out of them.
That's it for now. I gave up on the lottery.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yesterday was bad for old laptops

I'm sorry that I didn't post a blog yesterday. I was busy with old laptops.
Dave W. returned his. It was all locked up. The menu icon was missing. I think he fouled it up by shutting it down wrong. He also didn't know how to access the internet.
The internet in town has been rather spotty. I've had troubles everywhere except Bookends and Beans. I don't know if he had troubles with the machine or with somebodies internet service.
I also had a Gateway that quit accessing the hard drive. Today, I took the processor out of one of the Gateways and put it into the other. Now, I seem to have one good machine. It has troubles with the lights not working on the leds. I also left off some decorative trim on the telephone and network ports. I'll see about fixing that latter. I'm just happy that I got one out of two to work.
I'm having troubles with the ram drives as well. Maybe I just need to boot up with one of them in the slot. The screen flickered a bit as well. Maybe I wasn't as successful as I thought with the transplant.
I uploaded a picture of the flowers, in front of the hospital, on Montgomery Street. I think I already uploaded a picture of a bee from that day.
About the disability section. A lot of people who are disabled don't like to be defined by their disability. By that I mean a blind person wants to be seen as a person first and blind, secondarily. Of course, I'm grateful for my Social Security check, but there is more to me than just a schizophrenic person. I'm also an investor, a homeowner, and a repairer of old laptops. There are other things about me that I feel are important. Some of these include, being a Democrat, a spiritually developing person, and a major consumer of coffee. Something that is also important to me lately is loosing weight. I'm missing the WRAP meeting. Later

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Gateway is toast

I got a CMOS battery for the Gateway with intermittent problems. It didn't fix it. I'll have to scrap it out. I'll probably get another shell from Ebay and put the drives and batteries into that. The trouble with that is that it will cost more for shipping and handling than it will be worth. I like the Gateways, however. They are almost fast enough for streaming video. They work pretty well with audio. And, of course, they are just fine for surfing the net and word processing. I may have to do the same thing with the bad Thinkpad.
I went to a free movie, today. It was a promotion that the local banks put on. I think it was mainly for kids. The name of the movie was "Hotel for Dogs". It was silly. Totally impossible, but fun.
Afterwards, I went to Jim and Sherry's for lunch. I overate. I'm trying to lose weight but I ate 2 turkey and cheese sandwiches. For me, that is overdoing it. I'm trying to keep my dinner light, by only eating a bowl of soup.
I updated a couple of computers, today. I was surprised at how long it took. I must have spent two and a half hours updating the good Thinkpad. The good Gateway only took two hours. That is just too much time. I updated them last week so that was 1 weeks worth of updating. I was under the impression that Linux wouldn't do all the updating that Windows does. That was one of the advantages of the operating system. SUSE Linux seems to update more than Windows. I could select the things I want to update but I'm not certain that I know enough to make informed decisions. So I update everything. When you have 5 computers, that means that much of your time is spent updating things.
Alice picked out a picture of the reading room at Java Johns for the blog,today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another laptop bites the dust

One of my Gateway laptops developed an intermittent problem, this morning. It acts like I'm opening many options very quickly. This one is missing a CMOS battery. So I'll buy a battery and see if that fixes it. I don't think it will, since this problem has shown up on this computer,before. I think I'll just have to scrap it out. That's probably why someone sold it on Ebay in the first place.
I keep having problems with the word processor that comes with this blog. I need to learn how to use another one and then transfer it to the blog.
Another thing I need to look into is a list of recommended books. I read somewhere that you can add that to your blog.
I included a picture of the dining area at the co-op. It's where I write these blogs a lot. I can have a banana for under 40 cents and spend an hour or so just computing. One problem, though, is their connection. It's very restricted. I can't get to my emails, or Etrade. It's also so slow that it messes up my streaming audio. Another problem is that they have 50s music on their PA system. It's so loud that I couldn't hear my audio, if it was working.
I'm now trying to load my New Age music that is on the hard drive. I'm having problems with that, as well.
I got Banshee to work. Now I can listen to my own music. But the background noise is drowning out my music. I think I'll go to Bookends which is always quiet and their internet always works. If it wasn't for the bananas, I don't think I would come here much.
For the disabled. You are probably wondering what there is to do with your time, now that you have more time than money:
1. Take up reading. You can go to the library for free and check out books. They usually have books for sale, as well. You can probably get some paperbacks for 50 cents or less. They might have free internet access for your laptop as well. Ours has it. And its the fastest internet in town.
2. Get a hobby. Mine is fixing old laptops. It comes from my 35 years as an electronics technician. I like fixing things. I don't have the test equipment or the documentation to go very deep into repairing old laptops. But I enjoy the feeling of getting something to work.
3. Volunteer. There are places that need retired people to put in their time and expertise. SCORE Service Corps OF Retired People is one of them. They are retired business people who help others get and keep their business running. The library is a place to ask about such groups.
The co-op also needs volunteer dishwashers. They get a discount on their purchases.
4. Join organizations. I'm in the Democrat party. You might think about the United Way and other such charity organizations. The food pantry, here, is run by, and at the Lutheran Church. They need people to process the recipients of their food.
5. Hang out at coffee shops and read newspapers, and surf the Web. That's what I do with much of my time. It's also a good place to read books.
Feel free to list other options in the comments section.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Intermittant memory problems

I got up early, this morning. The first thing I did was to go for coffee at Java Johns. Then I went home and started the memory check program that comes on the installation disk of many forms of Linux.
I discovered a memory problem on one of my Thinkpads. It appeared that all of my memory sticks were bad. When I tried them in the other Thinkpad, they worked. I tried replacing the CMOS battery. Then I tried swapping the cd players. The problem stayed with the computer. Maybe there is something wrong with the motherboard. I don't know. I decided not to give away that computer. It would just have intermitant problems. I'll use it for scrap. I might get another shell of a Thinkpad 390X and put everything into it. I'll see.
I got the other Thinkpad's sound to work. I loaded Suse 11.1, and then used alsaconf. It had to be run from the command line. I had to tell it not to modify modprobe. What ever that is. It worked until I loaded the updates. Then I had to do it again.
I loaded a picture of Barret. He was pointing his table cleaning sprayer at me, at the co-op.
He's back lit so I don't know if it will turn our very well.
I'm at the co-op now. I'm listening to New Age music on the Thinkpad while I type away. I'm being a bit cheap, today. It's Sunday, and I don't feel like going to the ATM. I've got a couple of dollars until I cash Dave's check for the Gateway.
The internet from the co-op isn't working at all. I'm hooked up to someone whose router is named Linksys.
That all for now. I think I'll go home and run the memory checking program on the 2 Gateways.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Got up at 5 this morning

I got up early to help the Democrats set up for their book sale. It turned out that they already set things up yesterday.
So I went to Java Johns to load some updates on my new, old Gateway. Their internet dropped me in the middle of things 2, or 3 times. From there I went to Magpies. I had troubles there as well. I ended up linking to someone names Intellinet. That worked. Bookends seems to be the only place that works consistently. I just have to remember to bring the right wifi card.
Today, I'm using the Gateway that has a bad USB port. That means I'll have to take out the wifi module while I upload a picture from the memory board. I'll do that in a minute. I have the time to mess with it.
I got a wifi card in the mail. It's a 'B' version. It won't work at Bookends and Beans. I'll have to try it at the co-op.
I found a DVD player on one of the Gateways. I might be able to sell it to Dave. He expressed interest in having something to watch videos with. He'll need a faster machine to make it really work. Maybe I can find a 700 Meghz. machine. Even that would be pushing it. The battery on this machine seems to work. That is practically a miracle. Batteries don't last that long.
It's still cold, today. I'm wearing a sweater that I normally put away in May or June.
I think I'll try uploading a picture, now.
I uploaded a picture of a bee, at the hospital's flowers, on Montgomery St.
The bee is a bit blurred but what can you expect with a $20 camera. I could get better pictures with a hundred dollar camera, but then I would have to learn how to use it as well.
Maybe I'll do that as a hobby. It would be cheaper than putting together old laptops. After I have 100 Delphi bond, I'll think about getting into that hobby as well.
I still haven't had any success at dowsing for the lottery number. I tried it Wednesday. I didn't even get 1 number right. I might keep trying but I don't think I'll post my numbers since they don't seem to win.
You've been appealing your disability now for 2 years. Now it's time to get a lawyer. You need a lawyer for the hearing. Maybe you could have gotten one for the appeal process but you probably handled that yourself. When you get into the hearing you will feel better to have a lawyer.
The good news is that there is no 'out of pocket' costs. The lawyer will get paid on contingency. If he wins he'll get 25% of your back pay or $5300, whichever is less. If you don't win there is no costs. That protects you if you lose. You don't need added expenses if you lose. I think the fee for the lawyer is mandated by law, so you don't have to negotiate it.
An important question is: How do you find a lawyer?
Most lawyer don't want the job. Like I said their fees are limited by law and there aren't any if they lose.
I would talk to friends and neighbors about local lawyers. I got a referral from a state agency that led me to 3 lawyers. 2 of them turned me down.
Binder and Binder advertises nation-wide. At least if you call them you'll know that they do take Social Security cases. They even advertise on this blog. You might try them.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cold day in July

It's July and it's cold enough to wear jackets. What's with the weather?
I walked from Freeport to Bookends and Beans and then back again. That's close to 9 miles. I had to wear a pullover sweatshirt. It's that cold. normally we would be dropping from the heat at this time of year. Maybe we have global warming to blame for the cold. It's probably warm as heck at the Arctic. I appreciate the cold, though.
I didn't post yesterday. I was so caught up in fixing old laptops that I forgot. I got the sound to work on the 2 Thinkpad 390X's. I loaded Linux Mint 7 and then loaded the updates. Apparently one of the updates fixes the problem. I had one of them revert back to not working on the sound, today. I tried everything I could think of. Then I reloaded Linux Mint and did the updates and it worked.
I got the bad Gateway 9300 working. I just put a working hard drive with Suse Linux on it, in. I had to find some good memory cards but the noisy problem went away. It is still missing the memory cover and a good CMOS battery. I'm tempted to use duct tape for the memory cover. The battery is on order at Venture Computers. I'm tempted to take the bad battery to Radio Shack and see if they have one.
I didn't get the picture loaded today because I left the Sandisk memory card at home. I might be able to load a picture of the huge cat, but you saw that a couple of days ago.
I actually sold one of my old laptops. Dave, at WRAP bought one of the Gateways. He's working so he isn't really a charity case. His wife will get a lot of use out of it, since she's going to school, this Fall.
I might be able to get some pictures, later. I'm going to the co-op to update the Gateway. I put a marginal hard drive into the good Gateway. I loaded Suse Linux, on it. Now, I'm going to update it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why the Dog Left

My sister emailed me this picture. I don't know the woman, but that is some cat.
I gave away my first free laptop, last night. I was going to give it to Jennell, but I bumped into Dave W. first. He's unemployed and he likes to look for internet businesses that he can try. I had my slowest Thinkpad working so I gave it to him. He seemed quite happy to get it. I'm glad for him.
He's been looking into going to school while he's unemployed. At NICC (Northeast Iowa Community College) they told him that he wouldn't qualify for the TAA program. I told him to keep plugging away on it. What the Workforce Development people say is more important than what they say at the college. After all, they would be the ones to continue paying him unemployment on that program. He's also looking into what the V.A. might be able to do for him.
The markets went up, today. The Dow went up over 250 points and gold went up over $16. Oil went up as well, close to $2.00. Maybe it's telling us that inflation is back. More likely it's just a fluke. The earnings reports seem to be good. But I think it's just a trap. I'm keeping my money in bonds.
I think I'll get out and get some more pictures. I live in such a scenic place. I'm caught up in fixing old computers and trading bonds. Sometimes I just forget to enjoy where I'm at.
Well, I'm back to working on old laptops. I've got Suse linux on both of my Thinkpad 390X's. The sound doesn't work right. Noise comes out. I thought that I had that fixed but I don't. I tried loading the latest Mandriva (2009). It took forever to just load the live portion. When I tried to install it, it took even longer. I then tried Mint Linux (version 7). It would load but the sound was no better than Suse's. I think I'll just give these away without the sound working. I could load Windows 2000 but they no longer support the updated on that distribution. I don't know what to do. I'll think it over tonight. Maybe I'll ask Alice what she thinks. She has Windows 2000 on her 390X. Maybe that is good enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New reader

I've got a new reader. Her name is Josie. She works at the co-op. That's her picture, albeit fuzzy. I must have moved when I took it. Maybe I'll get a clearer one, later.
I now have 3 laptops ready to give away. An ac adapter came in the mail, and I had the battery fixed for one of the others. I'm waiting for a cd player and another ac adapter and I'll have 2 more, ready to go. I just have to track down the people that I'm giving them to.
I'm quite happy with Suse Linux. It has everything to get these old laptops working. The only problems that I'm having is with the sound. I need faster processors to run the audio and video programs at all well. That's why I'm switching to buying faster machines on Ebay. I think I'll concentrate on Thinkpad A31's and later. I should still be able to get them fairly cheaply and yet, they will do the sound and video. At least, I hope they do. We'll see.
I'm at the co-op, using one of the old Thinkpad 390's. I was hoping to run into Jennell. I'm going to give her this one so she doesn't have to fight the desktops at the library. They are too slow. One of the problems is that they have about 20 or 30 networked together. Another problem is their restrictions on use. They have to be so carefull about pornography that they cripple all of their machines. Jennell also said that she is concerned about viruses on the keyboards.
The market didn't make much of a move today. It went up 25 points, on the Dow Jones Industrials. I'm kind of glad that we aren't getting the massive moves that we used to get. Maybe things are getting better. I'm sticking to bonds for the next 5 years or so. When Geitner says that we are coming out of the recession I don't believe him. I just see what is happening as a result of sending our money to Saudi Arabia and China, and sending our jobs to China as well. I doubt that anything will get better. The rich will just line their pockets at the expense of the poor, like they've always have done.
I am happy that the markets seem to have settled down, however.
I'm just not inspired to write much more, today. Maybe I'll continue when I come back to town for the free coffee at the co-op, after 7:00.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm running low on photos. I know that I ran this picture of Trout Run Creek before. The batteries are low on my camera, so until I buy some more batteries I'll have to repeat the pictures. This one is probably my favorite of Trout Run Creek, anyway.
I was watching the "Dave Ramsey Show" the other night. In it he had a woman who called an complained about how she was limited by being on welfare. If she got a job and increased her income she wouldn't be eligible to live in her rent-assisted apartment.
Dave told her to break out of welfare and get a job that pays something.
This isn't bad advice for someone who (has it together). What about the people who don't? What if you keep losing your jobs due to the voices in your head, or the conversations you have with the president?
How do you tell if you are disabled enough to be on Social Security.
I don't know. For some people it might be obvious. If you are blind or lost your limbs it is apparent that you are disabled.
For people who have less apparent problems the question is trickier.
Only you and your doctor can make that judgment.
I think it is made easier if you find yourself working one minimum wage job after another. After all, as poor as disability is, it still tends to pay more that minimum wage.
And keep in mind, that if it takes years for you to get Social Security, you will get all that back pay. This could easily be the largest sum of money that you will ever acquire.
Maybe the best bet is to keep your options open and keep your appeal going while you look for a good job.
Its true that disability is limiting but it may be your best bet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm just hanging out at the co-op, swatting flies and bidding on computer parts on Ebay.
This morning I finished adding updates to a couple of Thinkpad 390s. They both had small hard drives, under 3 gig. I took some programs off of them so that they would load. It took about 4 hours at Magpies.
Magpie did a good business, today. Most of the time it was crowded. They only serve breakfast on Sundays, but that looked good. I'm trying to lose weight so I only had coffee. I'm also trying to get more of my money into Delphi bonds so I'm skimping on everything else. Right now I'm at the co-op with a 33 cent banana. I do have to get serious about saving money and losing weight.
I'm thinking about going swimming at the pool at Luther College, tomorrow morning. I'll have to get up early, and I'm thinking about taking a bicycle to Luther.
It would be a good habit to get into. The use of the pool at Luther only costs $15/year. I've already paid it. That and the bicycling would be a significant increase in activity for me. I think that would really kick my weight loss in gear.
That reminds me, I was going to mention some money saving ideas for people waiting for their disability to come through, or anyone who is really broke:
1. Buy off the dollar menu at McDonalds. Its cheaper than what you can cook at home.
2. Collect beer cans for redemption, if you live in a state that pays you back for beer cans.
3. If you still drink coffee at restaurants, go to places that have free newspapers.
4. Cancel your internet service and use a cheap laptop at coffee shops, with free newspapers.
5. Go to auctions for cheap furniture.
6. Go to Goodwill and such places for cheap clothes and general stuff. They even have cheap laptops.
7. I've already mentioned food stamps and food pantries in previous posts
Well I've got to go to Ebay and see if I bought anything.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Getting old laptops to work

It's a lazy Saturday, downloading updates, at Bookends and Beans.
I got two Thinkpads working last night. I've been loading Suse Linux and then downloading updates at my favorite coffee shop.
Alice was here and we talked about reading another book, together. We are both into spiritual books. She, more than I am. I've been drifting away from spirituality. I'm beginning to think that religion really is the opiate of the masses. You see it abused in Iran and the U.S. as well.
I pretty much decided to quit dowsing for the lottery number. Alice pointed out to me that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, is a sign of insanity. I think she quoted Einstein. She has a point. Since she was the only person I know, who reads my blog, I had to listen to her.
I think I'll cut it a little short today. Bookends is getting ready to close and I haven't downloaded my email yet.
I uploaded a picture of the Upper Iowa River from Phelphs Park.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day off at the fair

I went to the fair, today, thinking that I had committed to manning the booth for the Democrats. It turned out that I should have been there yesterday. I just left because I had laptops to work on.
I got 2 thinkpad 390x's in the mail. I'm trying to load Mandriva 2009 on one. It's doing strange things. Maybe they are just too old for a modern Linux. If so, I'll use an older form of Linux. I may have troubles with the wifi card, though. If I can get them to take ndiswrapper, I'll be ok. That is a program which enables a person to use Windows wifi card drivers in Linux. It even works with old computers.
I got 2 hard drives working with the Gateway Solo 9300. One of the laptops is pretty fast at 750 Megherz. I loaded the hard drives, one at a time, on that machine, and they both work. When I get a CMOS battery for the other Gateway, I'll put the hard drive into it. The other Gateway has an intermittent problem that is probably the CPU. It warms up and goes flaky. Maybe I can get all three to work.
Dave at WRAP said that his wife is looking into getting on the TAA program. That pays people unemployment to go to college if they lost their job due to foreign competition. Her job went to Mexico, so she qualifies. I'm going to see if she can use one of the laptops. The fast Gateway would be good for her. I think I'll ask for some money. I can use that to put together other computers.
The TAA program will extend your unemployment for up to 2 years if you are going to school. She is going to become a dietitian. I wish her well.
I uploaded a picture of the fireplace, at Bookends and Beans. It's such a nice place to download updates and all the other computing that I do. There are convenient ac outlets so you can always keep your battery charged up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Troubles with the camera

I'm having trouble getting my camera to work with Linux. I won't upload a picture today.
I got a new, old laptop in the mail today. 2 of my hard drives won't work with it. I got a hard drive with Ubuntu Linux working. I think I'll give it to Dave's wife. She's going to school, this fall. She'll need a good computer, but I think this one will do the job.
I went to see Patty Judge, yesterday. I didn't get to talk with her and I left my camera at home.
I did get to talk with Mary Jo Wilhelm. She's a state representative. I told her that we should legalize marijuana. I'm for the recreational use. It's still cheaper than beer. It would be an important cash crop for a lot of people in this state.
John Franzen butted in and came out for industrial hemp. I guess it has a lot of uses, none of which will get you high.
Well they are about ready to close up Bookends and Beans. I'll have to get going. Maybe I can go to the co-op and upload some pictures.
I never did get the camera to work with Linux but I uploaded a picture of Bookends and Beans. It's where I drink a lot of coffee.
On the disability front. If you are disabled, have you gone to support groups. I've been to many.
When I was in college I had a drinking problem so I joined AA. It was a lot of fun. The people attending participated a lot. Everybody had a lot to say about whatever the topic was.
I developed a gambling problem with commodities. I went to those meetings for a couple of years and it was similar to AA.
I feel that the 12 step programs spend too much time on guilt trips. I never harmed anyone other than myself so I don't know why it was so important for me to take an inventory. It was good to talk with people who had similar problems, though.
I tried starting a Schizophrenics Anonymous group. I ran it for a couple of years but the other people were so (out of it) that I didn't feel that I was accomplishing anything.
Something I found interesting was how many Gamblers Anonymous people were also schizophrenic. A Gamblers group I attended had 10 regular attendees. Out of those 10, 4 of them told me that they were also schizophrenic.
I now attend a group called WRAP. That stands for Wellness, Recovery, Action, Plan. It's attended mostly by mentally ill people. I kind of like it. Sometimes it turns into a pity-party. Sometimes people go on and on about their troubles.
I think self-help groups are a good thing but nothing replaces just taking charge of your life.
Personal responsibility is one of the main tenants of WRAP.
The market didn't seem to do much today. Tomorrow there will be news about the GM bankruptcy.
See you then.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patty Judge at the Fair Today

I'm going back to the fair,today. Patty Judge, the Lieutenant Governor of Iowa will be at the fair.
I messed up one of my Gateway computers, yesterday. I knew that the bad one had a bad battery. So I removed the battery from the good one to put into the bad one. In the process I messed up the plug of the good battery. I couldn't get the battery into the bad one. Now I have two bad laptops. I tried running the good one, with no battery to see if it would have the same symptoms as the bad one. It didn't, so I still have one that is not fixable. I'll use it for parts. I think it's a bad processor, but it could be one of the memory chips that is soldered in.
I uploaded a picture of Caroline. She works at Bookends and Beans. She is usually here in the afternoon.
I decided against posting or even picking lottery numbers. For me, that is a dead horse. I was hoping that dowsing was the solution to the lottery problem. It wasn't meant to be. School funding is safe, for now. I was just spending, around $18/month. It was a complete waste. I might try continuing to dowse, but I won't buy tickets or post my numbers.
I'm reading a book named (Work the System). It is geared up more for people who are working. I think he has some good point though. People's lives can be broken down into a variety of systems which can be tweaked. I think the author would approve of my cutting out trying to bring down the
lottery by winning consistently. It might be that dowsing is just another form of delusion.
I think this book will get me thinking about how I spend my time and money, and it will help me to optimize both.
Well, I think I'll have a lemon bar and get over to the fair.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The fair starts

I helped the county Democrats, set up their booth at the fair, today. I also manned the booth for a couple of hours.
That interfered with my getting an old Gateway laptop to work. Yesterday I got a good shell in the mail. I transferred a good hard drive to it and then I loaded Suse 11.1 on it.
The streaming video and audio leave much to be desired. I'm afraid that this model of laptop is just too slow for video and audio. It has a lot of memory but the clock speed, (450 megherz.) may be too slow. I'll have to move into more modern computers.
I uploaded a picture of Trout Run Creek. I've got to get out and take some more pictures. I had about 20 pictures that just vanished from my memory stick. I was going to upload a picture of the three, feral cats on the footbridge. I don't know where those pictures went. They just vanished.
I didn't watch the market today. I'll have to get to Yahoo finance and see what happened. I think a person should just stay out. I still have hopes for my bonds, though.
If the sun comes out tomorrow, I'll get some more pictures.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Saw Jim this morning

I visited with Jim, this morning. He's having troubles with radon gas at his home. Apparently he uses his basement a lot. He has a tv room and a family room there. So he checked the radon gas levels. Surprise, surprise. They found high levels. Now he has to spend hundreds of dollars to vent the gas outside. It makes me glad that I live in a mobile home. I don't have to mess with that.
I got a new, old laptop today. It's a Gateway Solo 9300. I have one that is unstable. The problem went with the base. Maybe it's the CPU. I swapped out hard drives. Now I have Mandriva Linux working, quite nicely, on the new base.
I'm having troubles getting the wifi cards to work with Mandriva Linux. It uses ndiswrapper. That is a program that enables a person to use Windows wifi drivers on their Linux machines. The problem is that I'm at Bookends and Beans and I left my drivers at home. I'll just go home after I'm done blogging and load the driver.
I can go to Magpie's tonight and load the updates for Mandriva.
I bought another 19 Delphi bonds, today. My goal is to get to 100 bonds. That way, I might get close to $100,000 when they come out of bankruptcy. Of course, its a gamble. But I think its a good one.
On the disability front. You might as well apply for disability. I know that we and the people around us may have the impression that we are normal. But that may be denial, in action. If you hear voices and nobody is there. Or if you are a presidential adviser, but you never get paid. You are experiencing things that others don't. Don't fool yourself. You have problems that others don't. You probably have a diagnosis. Now is the time to fill out the forms and get your pension. Social Security will refuse you for a number of years. But when you get to a hearing things will fall into place. They will owe you back payment for all of those years that they denied your pension. It will add up to thousands of dollars. The important thing is to fill out the forms and get the ball rolling now.
I uploaded a picture of bicyclers on Dug Road Trail.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Deciding on Disability

I missed all of my number for the lottery, again. Nothing I seem to do changes this.
I wanted to upload a picture but I forgot that my pictures are on the other computer. I've got some on a memory stick but I only have one usb port on this computer and I'm using it for the Wifi module.
At least the old Thinkpad 390 is working. It's slow and I'm thinking about getting the shell of a 390X to replace the CPU. I could use all of the other stuff off of this machine to get it going. I could use a decent battery. This one lasts less than 5 minutes. Uusally it turns off the second I pull the plug.
On the disability front. I think you should apply for disability even if you feel that you could work.
First of all the disability people will probably turn you down, anyway. That's their job. They keep the government expenses down by declining you.
If you get a decent job while you are waiting, you can always just drop your claim. If you lose your job, you can keep your claim active. I've mentioned going to school while you have an active claim. School doesn't disqualify you for disability. And you might have to drop out, anyway.
Keeping your claim active simply keeps your options open.
Also you may feel that you're not really disabled. For many diseases, denial is common. It's easy to feel that you are just going through some temporary setbacks. But if you look over your life you might see that it is a recurring pattern. Let the doctors decide whether you rate disability. That is their job. I'm presuming that you have a diagnosis, if not, take it up with your doctor.
After all, you've been paying into Social Security for your working life. Now is the time to get some of that money back.
I'm thinking of buying some more Delphi bonds, tomorrow. I can't see risking any more that $200 on something that risky, but the payout could be substantial.
I'll see about loading some pictures and then reconnecting to the internet.
I found a couple of old pictures from a 15 year old camera (Polaroid 320). I doubt that they will look as good as my new Sakar camera, but we'll see. Its a picture of my home in Decorah, Iowa.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July

Well its the forth of July and I'm busy getting an old laptop working. I got up at 4:00 this morning and went to work on the Thinkpad 390. I loaded Suse 11.1 on it. It took about 3 hours. After that I went to Magpies and started on the updates. I got Adobe Flashplayer and Acrobat working. I couldn't get Java Runtime to work. Maybe it's just too slow.
I'm ready to swap it with Alice's machine so that she can see how well Linux works.
I'm giving up on posting my lottery picks. I need to improve my dowsing, and actually win some of the time, before I post my picks.
I think I'll just keep this post short, after all it is a holiday.
I uploaded a picture of Trout Run Creek.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Got the Hard drive

I got the 40 gig. hard drive in the mail, today. I'm busy putting Suse Linux 11.1 on the thinkpad.
I couldn't get the sound card to work with Mint Linux. I've found that if I can run Alsaconf from the command line, I can get the sound card to work. I did that with Suse Linux. I'll see if I can get Rythembox from the packages. I prefer that, for the sound programs.
I'm busy loading Suse at home while I'm doing my blog at Bookends.
On the disability front. If you are a veteran don't be afraid to ask for help from the local Veterans Affairs person, usually at the county courthouse.
I've gotten help with making my mortgage payments, car repairs, gasoline, and emergency dental work from the local Veterans office. They have a slush fund that they keep quiet about unless you really need help. Of course, once you get your pension going, you won't have to go begging. The period of time that you are waiting for the pension to start is difficult, however.
Other things you might do while waiting for the pension is to collect beer cans from the roads, sell things that you can do without, find under-the-table jobs. Maybe you could mow the neighbor's yard, or do painting. Shoveling snow in the winter-time might bring in some income.
Another place to look for help is the county. A friend of mine had his rent taken care of by the county for 6 months, one time. The Community Action office will also help with dental bills. They get donations from people for that sort of thing. And as I already mentioned, the local Community Action runs a food bank.
The stock market is closed, today. Maybe yesterdays sell off had something to do with the long weekend. I don't know. Of course, the jobs numbers were bad, but weren't people expecting that?
I think you should stick to bonds for the near and long future. We might have another 1937 market in the works. The stocks fell something like 90% that year. It caught people by surprise because the stocks were already beaten up. Even Jim Cramer said that you should be cautious right now.
I uploaded a picture of Dug Road Trail.
Let me know if I should keep or drop the lottery picks. Leave a comment.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dropping the lottery numbers?

I uploaded a picture of the Upper Iowa River, viewed from Dug Road Trail.
I never did list my lottery picks, yesterday. That is because I never got around to picking them. I'm discouraged about dowsing for the lottery numbers. It just doesn't seem to work. If anyone wants me to continue, leave a message on the comments. Otherwise, I'll just drop that.
I'm still waiting for all sorts of computer stuff that should be in the mail. I've got 10 memory sticks coming and 2 laptop computers. I also have an AC adapter that should have been here. I sent an e-mail to the seller, asking about it. It's been a couple of weeks since I paid for it.
I think I'll load Windows 2000 on my good laptop. It will mess up my Ubuntu Linux. I'll have to reload Linux. I think I'll try Mint Linux. It's based on Ubuntu but apparently it handles the things like Adobe and Java better. I'll see.
On the disability front. Be prepared for a long wait to get your Social Security. I think there is gender bias, because most of the women that I know who got it, did so, in a few months. Men on the other hand, take about 3 years. You have to fight for it.
If you get almost any job in that time, you will be disqualified. If you are making a , significant income, (by their standards) you are disqualified.
Six months after you apply, you will probably be rejected. Then you file an appeal. After another six months, you will be rejected again. Then you appeal again. Somewhere in there you will talk to their psychiatrist or doctor. They will ignore him even though he may be on your side.
After about 1 1/2 years you will come up for a hearing. Then, you should probably hire a lawyer. Don't worry about the lawyer, he won't get very much of your settlement. It's either 25% of your settlement or $5300, whichever is less. In my opinion, the lawyer didn't do much for me. I did all of the talking and we just watched the key witness say that he didn't feel that I could be expected to work. That witness came from the Workforce Development. He was there at the behest of the judge. I don't think my lawyer said 5 words. It was really a slam-dunk. I don't know why they had to drag it out so long. I guess they do that with everyone.
If you are a veteran, keep in mind that there are all sorts of benefits that you might qualify for. There are 2 types of pensions from the VA. The most common is the (Service Related) pension. This applies if you became at all disabled, due to something that happened while you were in the service. This is on a scale of something like 10% to 100%. If you were !00% disabled, you wouldn't be able to move. The payout is something like $100/month to $2200/month. One of the advantages of this is that you can get all of your tuition paid for if you go to college for up to 4 years. You would also get a monthly stipend while you go to school. I think it is around $500 to $600/month.
The other pension is for being disabled after serving in time of war. It's all or nothing. You are either disabled or not. That is the pension that I was on. It pays $930?/month. It goes up each year so I'm not certain of where it's at now. There is no college with this one. And you can't make outside income while you collect it. If you did, you might not be considered disabled.
The market took a nose-dive, today. The Dow is off 223 points.
I think you should probably avoid stocks. As long as our jobs are going to China, I think unemployment will climb. The high oil prices will strangle the market a,s well as the world's economy. If you have money, maybe you should invest in bonds, for now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I went to see Linda Lucy this morning. She is an assistant of Senator Harkin. I asked her if the (Cash for Clunkers) program could be extended to help people buy used cars. Even with $4500 in assistance a new car remains out of the reach of the poor.
She also talked about Health Care Reform and other issues.
After that Alice and I went to LaCrosse. We ate at McDonalds and went to Barnes and Noble. I found a book that I was interested in but I couldn't afford it, right now. I have doubts about buying it anyway. It talked about how right the Hick's are. She channels a 10,000 year old demi-god, so I have my doubts.
I'm still waiting for my AC adapter for the Gateway Solo. I'm going to have to send off a nasty e-mail.
I was hoping to get some memory sticks, as well, but they didn't show. I've got a lot of stuff in the mail, right now.
I asked Alice what she knew about affordable housing. She said that there is a program called Section 8 that will help a person on the basis of their income.
I think its the same thing that Dan Micals told me about. I'll have to find out what sort of income you need for this. I think its pretty low. Apparently it is handled through HUD.
It might help a person who is going to college to wait for their Social Security to come through.
Also, don't forget Heating Assistance. Joan Nelson, at the Smith Building, handles that. It works even if you own your own house. You just have to have a low income to qualify.
I forgot my lottery ticket so I might not get the numbers today. If I get back to town, after eating dinner, I'll list them. I've yet to beat the laws of probability though.
I loaded a picture of Dug Road Trail. Apparently it used to be a road in the horse and buggy days. Now its a trail next to the Upper Iowa River.
About bonds: I would say not to buy tax-free bonds for the tax advantages. The difference in yields on a Treasury or corporate bond will more than pay the taxes that you avoid with the tax-free bonds. Another factor, is that municipalities are also going bankrupt, so what risk are you avoiding. The state of California may end up bankrupt. The same may be true of Florida. So I think the best place is in a high yield corporate fund. You should get around 14% yield. There is no such thing as safety, now. I would go for the yield.