Gnosis

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Archive for September 2010

My New Love

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Before any of you who bother to read this trash let me clear this up. This is not about a woman in the least! For those of you sorely disappointed about this not being a blog about love interests, a trist, or cupid’s bow, you can go to another website and read up on the latest romances of Hollywood. This is about something far more interesting and deeper then anything as fleeting, fickle, or farced as a woman’s heartstrings.

This is about furniture, or more specifically, a writing desk.

(the writer pauses while he hears jaws drop, smirks form, and the sounds of crickets resound from his readers falling asleep)

Still here I hope, cause if you are choosing to continue to read this you will be in for a delightful treat if you are a fellow lover of the old world craftsmanship, minimalistic, and above all: timelessness of the writing desk I am going to share with you.

It is the desk that was used to write our very enduring, powerful, and egalitarian document: The Declaration of Independence.

It is the writing desk of a certain Thomas Jefferson, designed by him and crafted for him by Benjamin Randolph, a highly skilled cabinetmaker of Philadelphia during the Revolution. He used it while he stayed at the Graff House, located at 7th and Market Streets in that same town. Except that during the war, it was the end of town.

So here it is to the left, a sign of elegance, simplicity and function. It was about five pounds and could be carried under the arm like a modern laptop. I can’t help but wonder how too often our overly gadget driven society has missed the mark as far as quality of production versus quantity. Sure we can get anything we want at IKEA, Walmart, and a myriad of other companies foreign and domestic and at rock bottom prices but it is designed to be obsolete in a few months to a maximum of five years ( I implore you to try to restore anything made of compressed particle board and a cheap veneer). I can see myself using one of these items to write for my entire life.

Thus I went all out and started looking to purchase one. A replica, which in today’s market can be had for about $800 and up (that is, the one’s that I found). Granted I can find a much simpler one build in the style of the Shaker’s for around $200, but come on this is Jefferson’s desk! Chances are that in my lifetime no one else would own another that I would know directly and would make a fine conversation piece.

So I have thought about buying plans for this lovely item via a website and using Paypal, but woodworking is truly not one of my stronger skill sets, and well, I’d rather not have it, then make it poorly or buy a cheaper model.

Here is a link to the historically accurate production model available today, built to the exact same demands and using the same techniques that he wanted:

Jefferson’s Writing Desk

Here is a link to the plans for actually building one of these fine objects, however be warned: this is not a project for an amateur to undertake!

Jefferson’s Writing Desk Plans

So I leave it to you the reader to decide if you will appreciate the finer things in life, then I ask you to consider this wonderfully built and historically relevant piece.

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Written by Josecito

September 12, 2010 at 12:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Attempt

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For those of you who know me and know me too well, I have a tendency to start projects and then never finish them. It has become more then just a tendency, it is almost an art at this stage of my life, mainly because I have become so skilled in quitting everything that I do or finding ever more creative ways to postpone, ignore, forget, misplace and otherwise halt work on all of my projects. I tend to blame it on my brain and the way is processes information. That is just another excuse for what I am now realizing is just plain old laziness.

The project that I am referring to in the title of this blog is the creation of another manuscript. Yes folks, I am going to start writing something that is more then a page or two and will involve some level of complexity. I have tried it before and did not like the way the book turned out so I deleted it, never releasing it to the public or getting an opinion on its content. This project will be different and it will be a much simpler, less complex story. My hope is to make it a three part booklet, akin to those old fashioned stories that you could buy at a newsstand or at an airport, where today all you find are Penthouse Forum, romance novels, and other assorted pornographic text based drivel. At most the story would be around 100 pages, most likely I would be trying to get the whole thing done in under 60, that way editing can be quicker, the plot smaller, and finally so I can feel a little sense of accomplishment in completing it and releasing it, instead of my previous work which ended in the digital trash.

 

I can only imagine that my lack of patience combined with my sheer inability to piece together a well written paper will have me looking like the scribe in the left side picture! Nevertheless I shall aspire to do great things as this is one of my life goals and I have continuously wanted to write something since around thirteen years of age. Why do I delay myself is too great a subject to go into on this little blog, perhaps I will write about that another day in greater detail then I even have online or discussed in private. If you, the reader are lucky, you will have the chance to read it and understand me a little better and perhaps pity me and my lackluster performance in the creative arts. Until that time, just be contented to read my blog and put up with my pointless yammering about ever growing subject material. It is almost believable that I am a really old man, with a cane in my hand, yelling about the modern world and all its excess! Maybe I am a reincarnated grumpy old fart, it is possible that I was born old into a young body, or that I am aging faster then many other people and what you see is not a 31 year old man, but a 93 year old who has lived past his time.

Until that question is answered, just stick around and see if I will even finish this project, or will it be ignored, like all the other projects that I have started. Ignored and destroyed at the moment before it is completed, as if a tragic curse has befallen me, to always want to create and do good things but never being able to see my dreams made real, and useful to the world.

Written by Josecito

September 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

All things considered

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So I am writing this, being blog post #5 in two days, the other posts containing more or less general information on how I feel on things, products, my hand, etc. Right now I just want to update without a real purpose. It has been several months since my last real personal post online (now it sounds like confession at a church) and I just feel that I need to write to clear my head of the cobwebs of needlessly complex inner junk that has accumulated along the inner recesses of my grey matter.

Where do I begin? Well it is September 2010, I have been without a solid full time job since December 2008 when I worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, I lived 5 months in Bogota, Colombia where I tutored English and fixed computers. I returned to the US in the hopes of getting a good paying job so that I could pay off my debts, finish college, and save money to buy a place and start a business overseas. What has actually transpired is that the economy here took a major crap, millions of jobs disappeared along with the grant money, loan money and opportunities to finish my degree or retrain into another field. To survive I have been fixing computers on a per contract basis (which really, tech people doing this are a dime a dozen now and you can’t make a living on it), doing odd jobs for people as it comes up and taking way too many opinion surveys about products that should never have been designed the way they were designed.

What I still want to do is get a nice full time job with health benefits that is somewhere along the route near my college, take the classes and graduate while paying off my debts. Each time I have tried to do this I have been shot down, thrown a monkey wrench, or denied said opportunity. However I will not give up as this is a priority in my life and without it, I would have wasted a huge amount of time and energy for nothing. Thus it is one semester and a job, that’s it…so close yet so far away. One day soon I am certain to get employment, along with acceptance and funding to finish. When that comes, my life will finally be turning around for the better.

What about romance you ask? Well I am in Philadelphia and the girl that I was seeing in Colombia is still in Colombia. Do I care about her? Will I see her again? Yes I sill care about her a lot, more then I realized and yes, I do want to see her again. What is it about me that makes me so sappy and romantic? Why do I allow myself to have this weak spot in my life where I am willing to be chivalrous and generous for the sake of a woman? It must be in my genes, written long ago by some long dead hairy cave dweller who wanted to get laid as much as the next guy…except he had flowers in his hand and by some accident gave them to the female of the species. It is amazing that I can be a dick in every other aspect of my life, but when it comes to infatuation, love, romance and dating, I am an old soft hearted fool. One day I will figure out how to suppress that long enough to make a clear headed decision when it comes to spouse, children, marriage, and family. Until then, I can only be me.

In matters of weight, I am seriously obese according to the scales set forth by numerous government medical departments. Which is really bad considering that I have a long run with my twin sister in less then a month and need to be in great shape to complete it. Mental note to self: eat less, move more, repeat daily. I think I should make it a priority to get that ideal body shape that I always wanted: a six pack, inverted triangle torso, strong legs and healthy tanned skin. I will most likely live once (since I doubt that reincarnation is a possibility) so I should get cracking on this one. Do I really need any other reasons besides me being 31 years old, living at home, and do not want to die of a heart attack before 40?

In matters of goals I am lost. Everything that I want I either fail at or do with the expectation that I will fail at it which is probably the reason why I have failed at everything I have tried. It makes sense to me and is plausible that transpired these many years. So what on earth caused the first failures? Most likely fear of the unknown if I do succeed. Fear of accomplishment and the added responsibility that comes with doing great things. Once people stop expecting things from you it becomes pretty easy to coast. No boss ever bothers you as long as you do the minimum. Nobody drops stuff on you to do. No one thinks you can finish anything, so they avoid burdening you with things under the assumption that you are incompetent when in reality, you’re just lazy and afraid of being constantly burdened by other people’s shit. Do I like working? YES. Do I like completing projects? Indeed. Do I like the idea that people will put incrementally more shit on my plate if I do something well and fast? Hell no.

I feel that if I am to do a project well, I should be given the choice on what I’d like to do next and have more leeway over how something is done. What I abhor is when I do great work, come in the next day to find other people’s crap on my desk for me to do cause they were incapable of doing it correctly. Do they get fired? No. Do I get paid more? No. Would the extra work mean a promotion ? Never because that would mean no one would be around to do the work, people who get promoted to management get that mainly because they delegate their crap to other people instead of doing their own jobs. So the goal in any hourly job is to do the minimum necessary to get a paycheck and not stand out. How did I come to believe this? Because I saw it with every employee of every company I ever worked at. Truth is no company hires internally for management jobs, you have to leave to be a manager and since jobs are increasingly tough to get, your goal is to provide the minimum value, enough to keep you employed, not enough to be burdened with more crap at the same wage. This is why you see so many people doing practically nothing everywhere. The only difference is that I am writing it down right here, to reread one day in the future.

Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Product Review: $100 Netbook and Cloud Computing

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So apparently a back to school special advertisement in the local newspaper has reportedly shown the existence of the fabled uber-cheap netbook. In this case the brand that is sponsoring said machine is Sylvania. After several years of dealing with upgrades, repairs, data loss and obsolete technology I have come to the conclusion that cheap, moderately reliable machinery with backed up data may be superior to the current paradigm of overinvested, quickly outdated gadgetry. Before I begin listing my reasons for said opinion, let me first tell you in my own words what a really cheap netbook and cloud computing should offer to the user:

1. A netbook should offer at minimum, USB ports, audio/mic jacks, a webcam, an SC (or any data card) slot, a solid state drive that is easily upgradeable, with the bare minimum of software needed to get one onto the internet, chat/video conference, watch/make videos, upload/edit pictures, and essentially run one’s normal day to day affairs without the use of a large internal hard drive, without a large amount of stored programs, and without a DVD/CD drive, ideally at a price much much lower then any product that has those items included.

2. A Cloud Computing environment should have all of its applications useable via a web browser interface, that does not require constant plug in or flash upgrades, that can store data, run virtual applications that are not too memory/processor intensive and that can provide the same experience regardless of where a user is or what machine they are using. Ideally a cloud computing experience would be turning on a PC, opening a browser window, and seeing your virtual desktop inside the browser, complete with apps, files, and a richer user experience at a reasonable price, with data integrity and security, and easily managed for the end user.

My opinion of a $100 netbook in being able to deliver on its promise of being both of these things is so far not met. The problem is that this machine is still trying to keep the minimum of machine based programs available (calculator, word/office, contact lists, etc) when all of these tasks could easily be done using the internet. After all, this is a netbook, a machine that is designed specifically to maximize the potential of internet experience and internet applications. Therefore, the limited HD space should be used for increasing the amount of net ready devices, plugin applications, browser upgrades and not for end user programs other then OS and browser.  Thus it would seem logical that they could shave off about $15 from the price and move that money towards nicer graphics, a more battery saving chip design, better RAM, or faster CPU acceleration when it is needed (flash, video conferencing, online games).

All in all I think this machine would be perfect for a high school student or a college student short on cash and in need of a machine to do the bare minimum report writing, research, and email until a better design comes along. If you want to take a gamble and try one out, by all means go for it, I found the experience worthwhile, but just understand that they are currently intending this type of machine to be an add-on to your tech gadgets and not as a permanent replacement of existing PC’s. I am certain that nerds like myself in the US and worldwide will tweak these and get away with a perfectly useable Linux based cloud machine that does 90% of what a normal laptop does and at 1/7th – 1/10th the price! I can see massive potential in this area and as the future rolls into the present, more and more people around the world who can not afford a $1000 laptop will certainly be willing to use a net based unit for $100, especially if their yearly salary is $8000 versus our $40,000+.

Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Product Review: Hott Notes

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In my never ending quest towards finding better and more practical ways of doing things it occurred to me to look for a way to have a mini post it note program on my laptop. Granted these things can be done using a text editor (Notepad, Wordpad, DarkRoom) or a variety of GTD programs (think OneNote), yet something seemed out of place in their use for the simple task of making a quick to do list or reminder.

 

Let’s think about the basic text editor Notepad. Yes it is quick to open, does not take a lot of RAM or processor power to utilize, and it can be used to make a task list, a reminder sheet or any set of instructions needed. However it lacks several things that would make it an ideal candidate for what I need, or what most people look for when they think of a quick reminder: the ability to see it within a second, to delete it easily, to doodle, to make check marks and to move it around the desk or wall (like you would in real life). So although it can do the job, it sorely lacks in its ability to manage quick information without seeming too restrictive.

 

 

 

 

Now let us take a look at Microsoft’s OneNote. Here we can see that the program does have a very user friendly method of inputting information, jotting down reminders, sharing the information, adding pictures, and organizing that information towards a specific purpose. Plus, it constantly saves the state of its’ contents as you update it! However, the program does take a lot of memory to run in the background on my older laptop, it isn’t as quick to make a note of something simple, and it really is geared towards project oriented work, multi-task and multi-user endeavors. Plus it too doesn’t really leave me a reminder on my desktop of stuff I might need to complete before the day’s end or a running tab of priorities that I could check off in a moment’s notice from the Desktop. It’s a great program, it is just not what I need for the type of things that I do.

 

 

 

So with those two programs offering me almost what I want, I set out to find my quick and painless way to leave myself reminders, to-do lists, doodles, checklists that I can easily open, see, and edit right at my Desktop from the moment that I power up my laptop but takes up so little RAM and CPU power as to actually allow my computer to be useable for other tasks. That is when I found Hott Notes. Take a look at a screenshot of my Laptop so that you can see what it looks like:

image Now before you ask me why my screen looks like this, let me tell you that while I am at home, my laptop has a second monitor hooked up and has the Extended Desktop enabled, giving me more space to do work. Each of those little boxes are digital post-it notes created by the Hott Notes program, which is about 10% of the size of the Post-it note program and does the exact same thing! They can be moved around, their color can be changed, they can be set to doodles, have an alarm that plays a sound to let you know you’ve reached a deadline or have to accomplish something. And the best part about Hott Notes is that it is Shareware/Freeware. If you like it (like I do) then the programmer asks that you send him a remittance to help him continue his work. Naturally after trying it out for another week, if I decide on keeping it, I shall be sending a payment as a thank you for this wonderful program!

If you are in need of digitizing your to-do lists, clearing your desk of cluttered reminders and snippets of one line tasks, then this program is for you! Consider this as a step above Notepad (in that you can see more then one open) , a step below OneNote (much simpler interface for simpler information) and an all around utilitarian method of keeping your life better organized and in a matter that you will learn very quickly.

So give it a shot, and if you like it, tell the designer and pay him for his work, you’ll be happier for it:  HottNotes

Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

By the seat of your pants

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As predictable as I normally appear, nothing surprised me more as my delay in blogging here. In the past I owned a Myspace account and blogged nearly every day about anything and everything that came to mind. Nowadays I can’t seem to be bothered by it. At first, I thought it was that I had nothing to say or content of sufficient value to place upon the blog, but today I have come to the conclusion that my lackluster performance in this sphere was due to poor ergonomics of my computer chair.

As you can see from this picture, when I first set up my computer desk, I was situated with a standard foldout chair ($20) which I thought rather uncomfortable but forced me to sit up and do my work rather quickly and effectively. Anytime I slouched or sat for too long my back would hurt, forcing me to take breaks, move around, or concentrate on what I was doing. After about four months of working from my home desk with this chair, I found a cheap deal from CVS on a leather chair ($40), which is pictured at the right. This chair, once I got it home and assembled it felt great, it was comfortable, it swiveled, leaned back and allowed me to spend hours at my desk, which in my mind, should have allowed me to complete incredible volumes of leisure activities, writing, research, scholastic improvement, etc. How wrong did I turn out to be. The chair was too comfortable, the leaning ability encouraged my body to slouch and drained every ounce of effort that I had previously. I went from writing daily to never again, to using my PC as an entertainment venue.

Well about a week or two ago, this so called great chair for PC work finally kicked the bucket when, as I was leaning back watching a video, two wheels cracked and toppled my fat rump to the floor! Was I pissed? Not really. I was more embarrassed by the very action of my body breaking my chair. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as this chair tended to squeak a lot, was not good for my posture, inhibited my chi when trying to work and made a nuisance of itself in general (the arms would not allow the seat to slide under the desk without first lowering the chair’s height to floor level and the maximum height was really designed for someone in the 5 foot 5 to 7 inch range, whereas a many of my size (5’11 –6’1’) finds his body too large to sit comfortable without the slouch).

Once the chair broke, I was forced to use my old folding chair which had been sitting with its folding chair and card table family downstairs in the Florida room (more like a storage/junked room). For the last few days my back has hurt as I am readjusting again to the concept of good posture, proper laptop screen angle, and a much harder surface under the rump. Needless to say, this has shortened my time online but my productivity is increasing, albeit slowly. Even tonight, as I sit here, I can feel my attention sharper then it has been in a long long time, my desire to write has returned and the focus has returned to my life and things that matter.

So to summarize:  When choosing a good seat for a PC desk. Invariably you should go with something much more rigid, that promotes good posture, does not make too much noise or slide around, and more often then not, you will find yourself staring at an older model chair. Failing to do this will result in too much comfort, which will tend to cause you to lose your focus and that is when your productivity will fall…dooming you and your work to mediocrity.

Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 4:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The thing that has been growing on my finger since November 2009

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Ok everyone, it is high time that I write about this thing that has been slowly converting my skin, muscle and probably bone matter into an unknown region of my body. First a short history of what has brought me to this point:

Around November of last year I started jogging to lost weight when one morning I noticed a small lump on my index finger of my left hand, which is the one that I write with. Thinking that I might have been bitten or bumped it while I slept, I ignored it in the hopes that it would heal and be normal. After all, it didn’t really hurt, it wasn’t big, and things like mosquito bites, spider bites and being a stumbling idiot all come naturally to me. Being a man, I also tend to ignore matters of health and well being, and do not think too much about my future longevity or the seriousness of my health and my health problems. Naturally a month goes by and I do nothing, and slowly the thing grows and does not dissipate. The finger starts seeming interesting.

Mud%20Run%20002 By the roll over of 2009 and into the 2010 year, this thing has grown and began to concern me. Being the unemployed lump that I am, I start researching medical sites and searching for terms similar to my symptoms: a lump, finger, flesh colored, skin ailment. These things invariably lead me to the common and most obvious diagnosis: a common wart. It made sense as it was on my finger, seemed to spring from nowhere, happened in winter (when my immune is lower) grows and had the appearance of a wart. With my diagnosis in hand, I went to the store and bought the medicines that were designed to solve the problem and cure me of my ailment. Surely I’d be cured in no time!

In comes August of 2010, after several freezing treatments, acid nail polish treatments and every home remedy I could find, the lump on my finger hasn’t gone away. In fact, it hasn’t even flinched! Why did I wait so long? Well according to all medical info, a lot of warts can take months to go away and require several treatments and possibly several differing methods depending on the variety of the virus causing it. Yet despite all of this effort it didn’t even shrink. Perhaps my diagnosis was incorrect, maybe it is something else, so back to the internet I went, dismissing any and all wart issues, and continuing to look for this thing, slowly converting my lovely digit into a ball of fleshy evil. I found it!!! A-ha! Surely this is it, and it made perfect sense why it didn’t go away…cause it wasn’t a wart at all, no sir…it was…of all things, a CYST! Yes, a cyst…a lumpy wartlike growth or sac below the skin that appears suddenly and can easily be removed by a doctor in a few moments with a quick cutting of the lump. So I make the appointment and head out.

I call my local family care doctor, and ask him to look at this lump, which he immediately suspected was a wart until I told him the story so far. He then makes the same conclusion that it could be a cyst or even scarier, a possible arthritic node. The question would be solved when he opens it up. Which he did, and for one hour, he poked, prodded and inspected, and squeezed, and rechecked and lifted, and moved, and adjusted. “It certainly wasn’t an Arthritic node at all, nor a cyst or a wart, the skin looks normal and I can see up to the muscle fibers!” ;says he; “In fact, I have no idea what the hell this is!” Naturally I want to shit a brick as my doctor, with a lifetime of experience had to tell me that this thing, is still an unknown. He applies two stitches and tells me to come back in a week to take them out, and that when I return, the office will get me an appointment with a specialist, ASAP.

The week goes by, the stitches come out, and my doctors office get me a specialist appointment with a surgeon, who summarily tells me that, he is sure it is a tumor, that it is very serious, and that I need to get medical ASAP to get this thing removed so it can be biopsied, and a determination made as to whether or not said unknown lump growing on my finger is cancerous! So here I am, lump on hand, unemployed, uninsured, with a lump growing on me that might very well kill me, but I can’t know that until it is removed and studied, which I can’t afford. The surgeon summarily tells me to apply to welfare, a concept that I find abhorrent and utterly sickening. Me? The poorest of the poor? Not I! Surely there are others poorer, more deserving of help. Why can’t I just pay cash? Cause this, now necessary surgery to remove this tumor, would cost around $10,000 or so.

 

So now, here I am, still with a lump, nearly a year after seeing it, still unable to find a job (needless to say one with health insurance), being told that I have a tumor, it may be cancerous, and that it is very very serious, that I should apply for welfare and push like mad to get it, so that I can possibly save my life.

Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 4:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized