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Wednesday, April 1, 2020


I used to play chess very well.  When I was 12, I beat my Dad at it, and he never played me again.  I found a neighbor kid who also played and we had great games.

Wen I went to Univ of MD, it turned out the President of the Chess Club was 2 rooms away.  We played for hours.  I got pulled into the rated chess world.  When my friend the President was in an accident and became permanently (how do I say this) "not himself anymore", I took over.

Not that I was ever going to challenge Bobby Fisher, but I got a trophy or 2. 

Years later, I learned that some of the people on a discussion board also played chess (better than I did) and we formed an online team.  We did great.  I organized and they played.  I played some and won most games.

But there suddenly came a day when I couldn't play worth a damn.  I could defend perfectly well, but I couldn't arrange an attack at all.  I had just lost that. 

I quit the team and passed on the leadership to an other.

But I kept trying to rediscover the attack with books and chess apps.  I couldn't.  And AFAIK I didn't have a stroke. 

So I have been playing the chess app on my mac while waiting for things to process or download.  And I discovered that if the app was set to thinking 3 moves ahead, I could never win.  But if it was set to 2 moves ahead, I won every time.

I'm a 2.5 player, LOL!

There was a day when I thought I was still creative at things like chess, and I was.  And then, one day snuck up on me and whispered "you aren't anymore" and proved it.  I have some old written recorded games from years ago.  I replayed them. I don't even know what I was thinking in those attacks, but they worked wonderfully. 

Getting older sucks!

I don't feel dumber, but I have proof.  Dad lived here with me for 2 years, and went from slightly confused to totally demented.  One thing you can learn from aged parents is what to expect...  Well, at least if I follow his path, I have 20 years to go before that. 

Unless CoVid19 gets me.

I'm a downer today, sorry.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ConVid19 Update

I am changing some of what I said in the previous posts.  I am now very concerned about CoVid19.  Things have gotten far worse than I expected just 2 weeks ago.  I thought it might last several weeks and then those people who would catch it would catch it and hospitals would take care of most of them.  OOPS!  Serious pandemic experts say that it won’t end in a few weeks with a few thousands deaths but maybe late Summer with 100,000-240,000 deaths in the US.  THAT is scary.  

Worse, the experts specifically said that if you think you are immune because you don’t catch the flu or other viral illnesses, you are wrong because no one is immune because it is new.  That is REALLY SCARY!  I was kind of depending on having a genetic resistance to viruses in general (through experience).  I still suspect they might be “somewhat” over-stating it.  I know from reading some medical articles in the past that descendants of people who survived the Bubonic Plague in Europe have a general genetic resistance to viral illnesses.  Or maybe they were wrong then and know better now and I am just as vulnerable to this new one as anyone else.  That is REALLY REALLY SCARY, and I have adjusted my habits accordingly.  Not that I was wiling to tempt fate all that much before today, but I am being more careful now.

So I looked around the house to see what I had.  I found a large bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol which I will use carefully (because good luck finding any of THAT at Walmart).  I found a bottle of hand-sanitizer left over from when Dad was here.  And Wonder Of Wonders, I found that the box of 19 “dust masks” (it was 20, I used one) I bought a few years ago to help avoiding inhaling sawdust when I cut boards in the basement were N-95 respirators!  They must have been on sale at the time or I was thinking “why not the best"…  

I haven’t left the yard for 10 days, but I need fresh veggies and fruit.  One mask every 7-10 days grocery-shopping will me last 4-6 months.  Or maybe longer.  The medical folks say that the virus doesn’t survive more than 9 days under perfect conditions, so if I set 1 aside, it can be re-used in 2 weeks safely.  And I have 2 boxes of 100 latex gloves (one stays in the house and the other stays in the car) to handle them carefully to hang them in the garage (where I seldom go since I’m not driving anywhere these days).  

So I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow.  The Safeway stores have “senior shopping" from 7am to 9 am Tues and Thurs.  I won’t be there then.  First, who is most likely to be contagious?  Second, who is least likely to be careful with sani-wipes and masks?  Third, I’ll go right after lunchtime when the store is least busy.  And I’ll go with a handkerchief dampened with the 91% alcohol packed in a ziplock bag, 2 latex gloves, and a dishtowel to wrap around the cart handles (in case they are out of the sani-wipes they promise will be at the front door but weren’t the last time I shopped).

I picked a rotten time for my indoor-grown lettuces to be used up.  I grow several kinds in trays under daylight bulbs and when you cut them an inch or so from the base, they re-graow several times.  I just used up the “several times" and had to replant.  At least they grow fast.  In 6 weeks, I can start harvesting again.  And that matters because leaf lettuce doesn’t last long in the fridge and I LOVE my salads!  Running out of lettuce gets me going to the grocery store faster than anything else.  I have some crops planted outside.  Spinach, radishes, carrots, beets, snow pear so far.    And broccoli and related crops, leeks, celery, garlic, to transplant out soon.  Tomatoes and peppers to follow in 3 weeks.  But those take time to mature.  If I have to depend on harvesting tomatoes for food in dire straits, we are ALL in SERIOUS trouble.

MD, VA, DC, and several other States here have declared lock-downs the past few days.  The govts are all working out which businesses have to close and which can stay open (is 7-11 a “grocery”?) and is a liquor store “essential”?  What about a hardware store (if you need replacement parts for a toilet?) and what about if your TV dies?  TVs are important methods of communicating govt decisions.  

Restaurants here are doing free delivery just to keep staff employed.  Some places are converting to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where they deliver a box of fresh veggies for a monthly subscription.  I might consider that.  There aren’t many fruits and veggies that I don’t like.  But I’m fussy.  I want my apples and peaches ripe but my bananas green.  Not choosing individual items would be a real change.  But maybe if I organized a neighborhood group, we could exchange (from 10’ away) what we like and don’t.

There is good news.  While I tend to view “American Exceptionalism” with some suspicion, it appears from today’s news that we do have it in some ways.  Researchers have developed the first blood test that can accurately detect more than 50 types of cancer and identify in which tissue the cancer originated, often before there are any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease.  And with an error rate of .07%! 

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.  Previous tests took 3-4 days to show results.

3M has in two months doubled global production of N95 masks to about 100 million a month.  Some manufacturing companies that produce ventilators are going into 24/7 production.  Some other machine-oriented companies are changing machinery to produce more.  Based on some ideas from China, shelter companies are producing “one week wonders” to construct safe temporary hospitals on sports fields, in convention centers, and city parks.

FEMA is going full on.  The military is going full on.  The US actually has the worst infection statistics in the world.  It is hitting here hardest because we don’t allow the govt to declare total lockdowns (we just won't allow it “yet”).  But we are also responding to it in medical and technology ways that will have benefits here and around the world.  This virus is serious and it will reoccur for many months if not years.  But by this time next year, we will probably have a vaccine and it will become “just another” seasonal virus that will kill some people (as routine influenza does now) and become part of the background fight with viruses we have fought for a century

Many people will die, but most of us will live.  And fewer will die the next season.  We are about 325 million people in the US.  if 200,000 die from this it will be a tragedy to those who die, those who know the ones who die, and to society in general of the people who died who would have done great things in the future.  That is .06% of us (did I add the % inaccurately?).  It is tragic but not existential.  We will get through this.
It's going to be hard, but beatable.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Adjusting To CoVid19

I'm being careful.  Last month, guessing that things might get bad, I safely shopped in a grocery store and Walmart for basic supplies.  I didn't overdo it.  I didn't buy 2 years worth of toilet paper or 50 gallons of bottled water.  I didn't buy a case of canned chili (gag), a dozen frozen pizzas, or every box of chicken pot pies.  I didn't buy 5 gallons of milk (who can use 5 gallons of milk before it spoils)?  I'm reasonable. 

I did buy some large bags of frozen veggies.  I like veggies, and frozen isn't too bad.  I bought some canned goods (beans and corn) and 4 gallons of distilled water "in case", but not much else. 

I already had several months worth of frozen cooked meat (I routinely smoke a pork shoulder and cook chicken thighs en masse sometimes) and put them in 4 oz portions for future meals.

I didn't try to raid local stores of hand sanatizer or masks.

But it can be amazing what a packrat like me has sitting around...    I found leftover hand sanitizer from when my becoming-demented Dad was living here in 2012 to 2014.  I found I had a large bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol (why 91% and not just 90% baffles me) in the back if the bathroom cabinet.

More to the point, I do some woodworking and sawdust is always a problem.  I had a sawdust mask I had used too often and noticed a box on a basement windowsill.  Well, stuff sits around here a long time without really being noticed sometimes.  It is a box of 20 N95 respiratory masks

So I have a quandary.  I could donate it to a hospital or keep it.  A hospital would use it up in a few minutes.  To me, it means possible safe grocery shopping for several months.  I'm in the danger range for CoVid19.  Over 65 and respiratory issues.

What would you do?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


I got the first seeds in the soil yesterday.    It was good to scratch up the dirt.  First was pre-germinated snow peas.  I soak then 24 hours and then let them sit 2 days.  I plant the obes tat send out a root.

This morning, I planted a 6' pattern of 35 spinach seeds.  I tapped out a handful and they were the exact amount.  Yay!

I also planted a sq ft each of radishes, beets, carrots, and kholrabi. 

The basement light stand is full of trays of tomatoes, peppers, cole crops, and flowers.  Most are emerging.  And I've started the dormant Venus Fly Traps in the cold garage; 4 hours of light this week and 1 more hour each week until it is warm outside.

Stared my war against the voles.  The voles eat plant roots.  And use mole tunnels o avoid predators.  So to rid the yard of voles, I have to chase the moles out.  Poor moles...  But they have to go to make the voles go.

Voles are like mice but eat plant roots.  And they love to hide.  They are the ones that eat your tulip and crocus bulbs.  They are also what the cats call "mousies" mostly.

I replanted my lettuce trays too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

My Personal CoVid19 Situation

This is partly to organize my own thoughts and partly to keep friends and family informed...

I am prepared for a long stay at home.  Some of it is just routine habit; some of it is in response to concerns about food and energy systems.

I am a homebody.  I routinely don't leave the yard for days at a time.  Granted, "day's at a time" is not weeks at a time, but I could manage.  I routinely have weeks  of home-cooked meals in the freezers (kitchen fridge and older basement fridge). 

When I heard that CoVid19 ad escaped China months ago, I added more canned goods to my pantry.  Nothing I wouldn't use up eventually, but stuff I normally wouldn't eat except in an emergency.  I even bought bottled water for the first time ever. 

As things have gotten worse, I have added to that.  A pack of TP here, a 3-pack of kleenex there, a few more cans of soup, a few cans of fruit, cans of tomatoes.  Bags of potatoes and oinions (I can't cook without them).   I missed out on the antiseptic-wipes, I thought for sure I had several packs of them from when Dad was here.  Maybe I sent them with him.

If the electricity doesn't fail for more than a couple hours, I actually have enough food for 3 months, and I'm not talking about frozen TV dinners.   If the electricity fails for 24 hours, I'm screwed!

One never knows what will happen in the face of social disruption.  I trust that we will all get through this OK with some cooperation.  People in democracies tend to rise to the challenge.

The thing that might challenge me most is not having fresh fruit available.   I like meat.  Small amounts are fine.  But 75% of what I eat is veggies and fruit.  Its not a diet, just my taste preference.

I have mentioned before that I have been immune to influenza virus since childhood.  This CorVid19 is not that virus.  I might be as vulnerable to it as anyone.  That's oddly scary.  After a lifetime of seeming-immunity to viruses, I'm not sure about this one.  It is entirely possible that the genetic reasons I have been free of them in the past makes me equally or more vulnerable to this one.

There is an ancient Chinese curse that say's "May you live in interesting times".  This is an "interesting time".  I don't want to live in "interesting times" like this! 

But I also look at this in another way.  Some bad things happen randomly.  The dinosaurs were wiped out by a random meteoroid.  There have also been other extinction events.  Shit happens sometimes. 

But I offer a word of hope.  This Corona Virus is not going to kill us off.  It is individually- threatening, but not species-threatening.  There will be some unfortunate individuals who die from it  (and probably fewer than from the regular seasonal flu). 

Be careful, but don't panic...  Always keep a towel nearby.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


The main Mac Mini dessktop HD is erased.  I confirmed that.  It does keep the operating system (High Sierra, not Catalina).  That is a relief.  Apple will probably look back on Catalina some day the way Coca Cola looks back on "New Coke" and Microsoft looks back on the Paperclip  function.

Or maybe not.  Apple might be dedicated to forcing it's users into iCloud and new annual subscription apps forever.  Already, I can see that I am being forced to choose the subscription MS Word and Excek (which I love vs the Apple Pags and Numbers (which have few features).

Fortunately, I have fewer word and spreadsheet demands than I used to, so I might die before they make it a "pay for every use" world.

But that's neither here nor there right now.  Right now, I finally have my OLD Mac Mini (the one BEFORE the one I spilled the wine on - call it the grandparent of the new one and the parent is dead)  being backed up on a 4TB My Passport external HD (51 minutes and counting down).  That isn't over-writing my older backups, just saving what is on my OLD Mac.  The pre-Catalina backups are still there.  4 TB is a lot of storage.

My idea is to save what is on the OLD Mac, (just in case) and restoring the Oct 2019 backup Mac-to-Mac directly.  Since I can't seem to choose the backup to migrate from Time Machine, but CAN if it is the only version on the OLD actual Mac (there being no other choices), I am expecting Migration Assistant will work this time.

Backup 34 minutes and counting...

BTW, my previous migration created 69,000 photo files.  I confirmed that this OLD Mac only says 17,000.  I take that as a sign that there will not be duplicates.  Time and a few more steps over a couple days will tell.  If photos duplicate along the way, maybe this time I will see where it happens.

Backup 10 minutes to go (an hour later, LOL) but it is getting close to finished.  The computer makes a guess on time, and it changes by what files it finds.  It is like a marathon runner not knowing what hills of downslopes it will find.

I didn't waste the time just sitting here.  I cubed 5 pounds of pork shoulder I smoked a couple days ago.  And packed the cubes 4 oz each into ziplock bags and got them in the freezer.  I'm set for any pork meal for months.  Very versatile stuff, pork!

The usual is adding 1 potato, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 small onion, a couple cloves garlic, and oregano, thickened with flour.  But smothered in bell peppers or carmelized onion is good.  Mixed with stir fried veggies and served over spaghetti with soy sauce is good.

Well,  the backup is going slowly.  For every GB it backs up, the computer offers more GB,  so I guess it is going to take hours.   It is up to 90GB and the total on the HD is 340,  so I might as well let it run overnight and see what I get this afternoon...

IF it backs the whole current drive up on the OLD Mac, then I Restore the OLD computer with the OCT 2019 backup and THEN Migrate that to the new computer (because thenit will be the only version Migration Assistant can find).  Abd THEN if that works, I might actually be back at Oct 2019.  and possibly be able to copy the photos since the without duplicates AND have my email settings back.

Aren't computers fun?  And then Thursday morning, I get to (try and) capture Marley to stuff him into the PTU and bring him to the vet for HIS teeth cleaning adventure.  Oh the thrill of the chase...!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stopping For Awhile

I've gone and messed up the computer again, AND discovered I never did have it fixed right like I thought recently.  I thought the only problem left was duplicate photos.  And maybe I should have just lived with those.

But I hate unresolved problems, so I can't working at apps that promised to find duplicate photos and remove them.  They didn't work.  So last night I sat down and started deleting them manually.  It's tedious but doable.

I set up detailed folders routinely.  Used to drive the IT at work nuts.  Well, I like to make things suit myself, and what I could do, I did.

That has now come to haunt me.  My folder organization works fine for me, but apps (Windows nor Mac) are not designed to deal with such complications.  The old "iPhotos" Mac app undertood the difference between the original large photos and the highly-processed smaller photos I saved elsewhere.  The new "Photos" Mac app does not.  It sees ALL photos everywhere.

I did not know that.  So i managed to delete a whole lot of my processed photos while manually trying to delete "duplicates".  And that's not the only thing.  Nothing has really been working right since I "upgraded" to the latest Mac operating system (Catalina).

It can't be removed.  Which is why I bought a new Mac, but tipped a glass of wine onto the old one (killing the hard drive), and have been struggling since.  Some of that is not Apple's fault (they didn't tip the wine glass).  But that wouldn't have happened if Catalina was revertable to the previous operating system like all the previous ones were.  If it was revertable, I could have just reverted and gone happily on.

So here is the situation.  I'm going back to an October backup from an external hard drive of the later-drowned Mac HD.  I will try migrating back to this computer.  I will then try to use the backup I will make to a different external HD with some current files (like my email and new photos).

And I am going to be gone until then.  Days, weeks, I don't know.  What I do know is that I can't blog, visit, try to fix the computer (getting everything back), get my garden going, repair balky yard equipment (having a problem with those too), and take care of home and cats all at the same time.  And if I try to spend most of my day getting the computer back to pre-Catalina, I will go utterly nuts.

So, this is a (hopefully) brief sign-off and I will return with a gloriously working computer and a lot of new cat-pictures.  If I fail, I will starting from scratch, and I will go from there.

But I don't know when...

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Indoor Gardening Started!

It's always a bit of work to get started each year.  Here is how it looked last week...
Well, things pile up over the Winter.  So I organized some supplies into piles, moved some stuff to the shelves in the garden shed, and threw out some junk.  That left me with this...
NOW, I have some working space and am ready to go.  The barrel (above) holds my personal premixed potting soil.  WAY cheaper than buying those small bags, and I know for sure what is in them (I try to stay organic).  The tubs below are the various components that are left over, plus some of them are used potting soil from last year.  Those are fine for established plants but not for new seeds. Kitty litter tubs make great containers (good size, good handles, good tops). 
The long narrow planters are for indoor lettuces, pak choi, and leafy celery.

The stacked trays below are filled with my sterile potting soul mix for the new seeds.  I poured an inch of hot water into each tray so the soil could soak.  Dry potting soil takes a day to get saturated.  It is not like regular dirt, LOL!
So, tomorrow, I will be able to plant seeds.  The first will be the heirloom tomatoes I hope to graft onto vigorous disease-resistant rootstock.  I've never succeeded in that in 3 years but I keep trying.  I learn a little bit each time.

The rest of the trays will go to perennial or self-sowing flowers I am trying to establish in old beds, some mass-annuals like marigolds and zinnias, and other veggies like bell peppers and melons.

I used up 1/2 of the barrel of the potting soil, but the trays are filled and saturated.  That means all I have to do is plant seeds according to schedule.

And I have a great schedule!  Years ago, I made index cards for each veggie, sorted by "weeks before and after last frost date".  Each card has the name of a veggie and the indoor or outdoor planting date, the kind of fertilizer it wants, and the spacing per square foot of garden space.  Example:
And I have 2 calendars marked with + or - weeks related to last frost to remind me which cards to look at for planting each week.

The growing season has STARTED!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Preparations

I'm not a survivalist, an end-of-civilizationist, or someone who expects a political revolution.  I don't expect aliens, zombies, or the mole-people to attack.  I don't have the garage stocked with AK-47s and ammo.  I don't even have an outside generator.

To be honest, I have a couple of basic hunting weapons, and a few replica swords (I participated in re-enactments a couple of decades ago for fun) and those are functional enough if I wanted to sharpen them.  I have a hunting-quality crossbow, too (there are relatively tame deer in the swamp across the street).  But I'm not expecting any need for stuff like that.

What I AM considering though, is that the Coronavirus MIGHT spread enough (and mutate sufficiently) to sicken enough people to disrupt standard food and supplies distribution for a few weeks even in the US.  So I am taking some basic steps which will not waste money in the long term but might prove useful if I wanted to avoid going out more than necessary.

Here is what I am NOT doing:
1.  Buying cases of freeze-dried food and MRE-equivalents.
2.  Buying guns.
3.  Buying cans of gasoline.
4.  Buying a generator.

Here is what I AM doing:
1.  Buying an extra 6-pack of TP, hand soap, laundry detergent,.
2.  Buying a case or 2 of distilled water (my Venus-fly-traps need it anyway).
3.  Buying an extra case of cat food.
4.  Buying a dozen each of canned soups, stews, and chili.
5.  Buying a few large bags of mixed frozen vegetables.
6.  Buying a large Pork Butt to cook, cube, and freeze in portions (I do that anyway every few months).
7.  Buying a dozen chicken thighs for the same reason.
8.  Checking my non-prescription drugs and anti-infection ointments and bandage supplies.
9.  Pre-ordering refills of the cats' meds.
10. Filling my riding mower 5 gallon tank with gas, filling the portable 5 gallon can with gas, and topping off my car gas (I have gas stabilizer, so it won't go bad and will get used over Summer if otherwise not needed). 
11. Buying an N95 NOISH-approved particle respirator 10-20 pack (if I can find them).  That's for if I HAVE to go shopping or visit a doctor waiting room (but even then, I work with solvent and sawdust sometimes, and they work for those too so I'll use them eventually).
12.  Calling my doctor's office about getting a copy of my medical records (a good idea anyway).
13.  White gas (a generic term for camp stove and lantern fuel).  I have a single burner backpacker's cooktop.  "Just in case".

I've probably forgotten a few things. 

Things I already have that might be useful to consider for others to consider:
1.  Rechargable batteries and charger.
2.  Slow-burning emergency candles.
3.  Charcoal for the smoker.
4.  A crank-powered flashlight and a crank powered radio.
5.  Powdered milk, powdered Gatorade (electrolytes), bread flour, sugar, salt, spices.

I don't expect it will get all that bad.  I'm not the paranoid kind; I expect things won't get as bad as some fear.  But buying stuff that you can use eventually won't hurt and may keep you from going out among the sick could make things easier.

Just a thought...

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Comments About That Unusually Helpful AOL Tech Person

Comments came up about how unusually helpful the AOL tech was and that she didn't want company recognition...

I had dealt with at least 6 AOL techs over the last couple months.  I'm not saying they weren't helpful to the degree required for their jobs.  But if there was something I couldn't do or understand, they lost patience quickly.  So they didn't go out of their way to help.  They were following AOL rules.  One is paying $5 per month per email account that they could verify.  Another was that I had to know the previous passwords which were on the dead Mac Mini.  They pretty much just tried to get me off the phone to get to the next customer.

I should mention that the previous ones might have had trouble because I didn't have a 2nd phone for sending a code to, or call waiting set up.  I did contact my service provider (Verizon) to set that up.  It just took a button click on My Account and then discovering there was a button on my phone labeled "call waiting'!  Well, you don't see what you aren't looking for...

When I talked to this latest one, it was obvious she was not so concerned with AOL rules.  She didn't ask if I had an paid account for each email address.  She asked if I had passwords, but when I said I didn't (and explained why) she said "then we will set of new ones".  She was patient after asking questions that I didn't fully understand.  She answered some questions she didn't have to bother answering.

An example was "what is the difference between POP and IMAP accounts"?  She explained that POP was easier for AOL but did not allow recovery of email files while IMAP took a little more work, but allowed recoveries.  When I mentioned that my working email account was POP, she said "well let's fix that first".   And she did.

She was on "remote control" over my computer by then.  She explained what she was doing at each step.  After changing my primary email account from POP to IMAP we went to the marksmews email.  She didn't ask if I had a monthly payment account, she just went about setting it up as IMAP.  To do so, she generated a master password on her end and told me to enter a password of my own afterwards to change it.  And she specifically said at all such times that she had turned off her vieing so that she couldn't see my new password. 

OK, that might have been untrue, but I was trusting her.  I think she was being honest.  Besides, I'm sure anyone at AOL could see my passwords if they wanted to.

So she had my cavebear email changed to the safer IMAP format and the marksmews email set up the same way.  She asked if I needed further assistance.  I mentioned a 3rd email accounnt.  When she asked why have 3 accounts, I explained it was one general email and one each for 2 blogs (cats and gardening) just to keep them separate.

She laughed and said she admired organized computer files.  I didn't mention that I keep so many folders of various kinds that I used to drive the computer guys nuts at work when they had to solve a problem.  They make sense to me and that is all that matters.

So she went about setting up my yardenman email (gardening) as Imap and went through the process of creating a temporary new master password at her end *sending a temporay code to my call-waiting) and then going off-viewing while I created a new one for myself.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience.  I have never in my life had a better experience with a computer company tech.  So why did she decline to let me thank AOL on her behalf? 

Well, during our hour-long chat, I mentioned that she was unusually helpful and did she really enjoy doing this?  OK, I would expect any company agent to express a positive attitude whether they actually enjoyed their job or not.

She seemed actually happy to help people get problems fixed and to be the one to fix them.  So parts of being happy at what you do are hard to disguise.  She seemed to REALLY enjoy what she was doing.

I get that.  When I visit my favorite gardening forum, the first thread I go to is the "Questions" thread.  Some guys love cars, some like sports, I was gardening as a preteen.  So it has been 60 years...  I love to answer gardening questions!  I get positive pleasure from helping other people garden well. 

So, apparently, the AOL tech rep I spoke to feels the same way about computers.  I think that she knows that she is breaking AOL rules by helping people without asking for payment programs or pushing add-on "pay-for" services.  It just gives her pleasure to help others with her expertise.

An aside...  The internet has been the greatest opportunity for people to share their individual knowledge since the invention of the mass-printed book.  Before the printing press (invented in symbol-driven China, but much more applicable to European letter systems), scholars had to write individual letters to the few others they knew about things they had discovered (expensive, slow, and uncertain of delivery).  After the printing press, scholars could write whole books available to all who could buy one (it still wasn't cheap).  But 1,000 books reached more people than a dozen short letters.

With the internet, we can reach a Billion people if they are interested and nearly for free.  So sending answers to questions (whether computer, gardening, cooking, etc) into the internet is basically "books cubed".

The AOL tech woman is one of those.