Frustrated at YouTube

I’m frustrated at the Columbus library because they disabled the search engine for YouTube.  Too many people were typing “two girls goat” to see what footage might pop up.  But I am mad because they removed my favorite West Wing clip, from the “Two Cathedrals” episode.  Some people have said it’s one of the finest moments in television history.

It takes place at the National Cathedral, right after President Jed Bartlet’s loyal longtime secretary is killed in a traffic accident.  He asks to be left alone with God, and here is what he prays:

You’re a son-of-a-bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny? ‘You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God,’ says Graham Greene. I don’t know whose ass he was kissing there ‘cos I think you’re just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to Yours except praise His glory and praise His name? There’s a tropical storm that’s gaining speed and power. They say we haven’t had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the north Atlantic last year. 68 crew. Do you know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships. Doesn’t even carry guns, just goes around, fixes the other ships, and delivers the mail, that’s all it can do. Gratias tibi ago, domine. (I give thanks to You, O Lord.) Yes, I lied. It was a sin. I’ve committed many sins. Have I displeased You, You feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn’t good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, 30 million new acres of land for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we’re not fighting a war, I’ve raised three children… that’s not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem. Tuus in terra servus nuntius fui officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem.  (Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a loving God?  A just God?  A wise God?  To hell with Your punishments.  I was Your servant here on Earth.  And I spread Your Word and I did Your work.  To hell with Your punishments.  To hell with You!)

Very harsh, and a very bitter pill to swallow for any of the faithful.  Most people of faith will freely admit that they’ve directed this type of harangue at God more than once in their lives (the rest will lie).

It is refreshing to see a President having this type of thoughtful and skeptical dialogue with the Almighty.  It’s quite a juxtaposition to President Bush’s sham Christianity and the constant interference of the Religious Right.

Comfest, Toplessness, THE NEW YORK POST, Busy Columbus

I think this is the point in the summer where a three-month vacation from school stops being exciting and starts being a drag and a chore for all kids.  Susie isn’t feeling that way exactly: She’s already been to California, and currently she’s at the Phoenix Children’s Theatre Wicked camp (which means she’s already seen the show twice at the Ohio Theatre), so she’s managing to stay busy.

Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year in Columbus.  The National Hockey League draft was here, the Gay Pride parade and rally was Saturday, and the annual Community Festival–Comfest–was in Goodale Park from Friday until Sunday.  The Special Olympics were taking place on the OSU campus, so I doubt there was a hotel room to be had anywhere in the Greater Columbus area.

I spent much of the weekend at Comfest.  Music, vendor booths, long hair, peace and love, some topless women, food, wine, and beer.

(I speak the truth when I mention the topless women.  Columbus’ law allows female toplessness, and it’s a sensible rule–although I admit I support the law for some of the wrong reasons!  I think they feel that if it’s legal for a man to walk around shirtless, it should be for a woman.  Also, the indecent exposure laws state that exposing genitalia in public is indecent exposure; breasts are not genitalia.  And at what age do you say that a girl has to start wearing a top?  In some towns it was 11–I know a woman who was a B cup at nine, so what would they have done with her?)

I ran into a man I did business with a few Comfests ago.  His name is John, and this year he had a whole table of Chinese jewelry for sale.  It was a far cry from what I bought from him about ’03, I think.  Then, I bought a complete issue (not a reproduction or just a front page) of The New York Post for December 9, 1980.  The headline, in big World War III type, said JOHN LENNON SHOT DEAD.  I had lusted after that newspaper for years, and finally bought it, but it never leaves the file cabinet in my office at work.  This is because I’m afraid to expose it to sunlight and make it turn yellow.  Newspapers are always printed on the cheapest paper stock available, and the paper is not meant to last.

The size of the headline denotes how momentous the news was.  It’s also a little misleading.  The New York Post was owned at the time by Rupert Murdoch (it may still be, for all I know).  During the 18 months I lived in Boston, I always saw The Boston Herald, which he had just bought when I landed there.  The paper was notorious for using that large type whenever the Red Sox won.  (When they won exclusive rights to print excerpts from the Hitler diaries, the type was giant.  Two or three days later, it was found that the diaries were forgeries–and not very good ones.  They admitted that in a little box deep inside the paper.)

One Man’s Treasure is the vendor I love visiting when I’m at Comfest.  I was enamored of a portable Olympia typewriter that he had for sale (are you seeing a pattern here, Gentle Reader?), as well as a reel-to-reel tape recorder, complete with microphone.  (It was not a Wollensak; it wasn’t any brand I recognized.)  If you want to see some more of his inventory (movie projectors, slide projectors, old fans, etc.), go to his Website: http://www.werepairlamps.com

Will Payday Happen Tomorrow?

Everybody who works for the State of Ohio has been on edge about this, because Governor Strickland announced on Friday that our data has been stolen.  Below, I’ve pasted the story from Saturday’s Columbus Dispatch, which was what stared out at me from a newspaper vend box Saturday afternoon on my way back from Tim Horton’s and the post office.

State employees’ data stolen
Dependents, 64,467 workers at risk; Strickland calls for investigation

Saturday,  June 16, 2007 3:40 AM

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

FILE

Yesterday morning, Gov. Ted Strickland told state employees that their names and Social Security numbers were on a computer back-up tape stolen Sunday from a state intern’s unlocked car.

 

Late last night, the governor announced that information about their dependents and other personal data may be on the tape if the employees also participated in the state’s pharmacy benefits management program.

Strickland’s office said it is likely other personal data will be found, and the governor is asking the Ohio inspector general to investigate the theft and the state’s response for an independent assessment.

“We will continue this ongoing review and if additional personal information is confirmed to be on the missing data device we will make that information available as we know it,” Strickland said in a news release.

The governor called a news conference yesterday to announce that the back-up tape had been stolen Sunday night, and that it had been determined the tape contained the names and Social Security numbers of all 64,467 state workers. Although the governor said a review was continuing, he and other state officials said they were confident there was no other personal information on the tape.

But the governor’s office issued a news release at 11:14 p.m. saying it had been told that information about participants in the state’s pharmacy benefits management program – including information such as names, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of the employees and the names and social security numbers of their dependents – may be on the device.

Budget Director J. Pari Sabety said she doesn’t think medical information is on the tape, but the review continues.

Strickland is telling state workers and their families that it’s highly unlikely that a thief would have the knowledge or equipment to be able to retrieve the data on the tape.

“We have no reason to believe that there has been any breach of security at this time, and we think it is unlikely that a breach would occur,” said Strickland said at his news conference.

The governor also has announced that all state workers will be offered free identity-theft prevention and protection services for a year at an estimated cost to the state of $660,000.

But state workers and others were left yesterday asking how such sensitive information could have been sent home with a 22-year-old intern, who was hired March 5 at $10.50 an hour, and why it took the state four days to announce it.

The union representing 36,000 state employees called the incident “inexcusable” on its blog, saying it “has put state employees’ privacy and financial situations in jeopardy.”

Peter Wray, spokesman for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said all state workers now “need to be concerned and take wise steps. … It’s too risky in our society to think, ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’ They should take it quite seriously.”

State officials said the data were stored on a second network backup storage device at a temporary project office for the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System, the state’s new $158 million payroll and accounting system.

The backup tape was sent home with Jared A. Ilovar, who was hired to work on the new system, to keep off-site as a precaution if the original data were destroyed or damaged.

Ilovar was one of four state workers who took backup data home on a rotating basis; interns also have been used in the past because of staffing shortages, said Ron Sylvester, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services. That policy was adopted in April 2002.

Sylvester noted that Ilovar, who expects to graduate this fall or next spring with a degree from DeVry University in Columbus, has computer-network skills and training.

But Ilovar apparently left the tape in his unlocked car in the parking lot for his Hilliard apartment. The theft, reported to Hilliard police at 12:43 p.m. Monday, occurred between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday.

Hilliard Sgt. James M. Redmond said the break-in appears to have been a random act and noted that two other cars were broken into at the same complex.

Ilovar’s Facebook.com entry for Thursday says, “Jared is very scared.” The entry for yesterday: “Jared is valuing his friends above all else.” Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

State Budget Director J. Pari Sabety said yesterday morning that it took several days to determine the extent of the problem because nearly 339,000 files in more than 24,000 folders on a duplicate tape had to be reviewed. Workers were using test data in preparation for starting up part of the new system, so it wasn’t immediately clear whether data on the stolen tape were real, Sabety said.

She said early this morning that the initial review focused mostly on using keyword searches, and now a more exhaustive analysis is being done after the additional information was discovered.

Strickland said he didn’t want to alarm workers unnecessarily or go public with incomplete information but that he’s telling the public what he knows.

“I believe we’ve responded in an expeditious manner, exercising appropriate caution,” he said.

The governor noted that his personal information also was on the tape, “and I slept very well last night.” Still, Strickland was not told about the problem until Thursday afternoon, and asked the State Highway Patrol to help investigate an hour later.

Strickland moved to beef up data security — starting with an order that no more backup data be sent home with employees.

Republicans noted that the problem came during the same week an Ohio inspector general’s report determined that Frankie Coleman, the wife of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, was paid for hours she didn’t work at the Ohio Department of Development

“The taxpayers are now having to foot the bill for two investigations and identity-theft protection for 64,000 Ohioans,” state GOP Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine said in a statement. “This is just downright irresponsible management of state government, and it raises some serious questions about the judgment of this administration.”

Dispatch Senior Editor Joe Hallett, reporters John Futty and Alan Johnson and librarians Susan Stonick and Amy Disch contributed to this story.

mniquette@dispatch.com

“I believe we’ve responded in an expeditious manner, exercising appropriate caution.”

Gov. Ted Strickland

I hope so.  Tomorrow is payday, and so far so good.  I checked on the OAKS Website, and my pay stub and information has been correctly posted.  Whether it will be deposited tomorrow is another story.  (The State requires its employees to have direct deposit–I was one of the last holdouts–and the fecal matter will really impact the ventilation system if no checks are deposited.)

Susie is in a workshop at the Phoenix Summer Theatre centered around the play Wicked, which is playing at the Ohio Theatre until after Independence Day.  She went to a performance this afternoon, and I went by the Riffe Center (where the workshop is held) afterwards.  She loved Wicked so much that she was floating almost all the way to Wendy’s, where we had dinner.

Our computer is “dumb” at the moment, since we’ve temporarily discontinued cable as a cost-cutting measure.  So, last night I moved it downstairs.  (There had been no cable tap downstairs, other than the one for the TV, so we never kept the computer down there).  It’s resting on a green plastic table that used to be on our front porch.

My big project last night was setting up the office in my own peculiar style.  Where the computer was now holds my aforementioned Smith-Corona Galaxie XII manual typewriter (Is it a law that you have to misspell galaxy when it’s used for car and typewriter names?), and four milk crates of books on the shelf.  One is a complete set (minus the volume for the letter I) of The World Book Encyclopedia of about 2000, which I bought dirt cheap at a library discard sale.  The other are two crates full of the “Look how erudite I am” books–classics of fiction, religion, politics, philosophy, etc.  I can’t have Crime and Punishment sharing the same shelf  as  Danielle Steel’s Toxic Bachelors, after all.  (During one of my brief psychiatric hospitalizations, I asked Steph to bring me some books when she came to visit.  Talk about a potpourri: She brought me James A. Michener, Charles Bukowski, and Thomas Merton.)

Library is closing, so this entry has to as well.  Will try to post again during the weekend.

Steph & Sus Back From California, I Neglected the Blog

Before Steph and Susie left for California, I semi-promised my readership that my contributions to this blog would increase, since I’d have so few distractions.  As you can see, that didn’t happen.  I am happy to say that Steph and Susie arrived back from Disneyland and Anaheim safely late Friday night.  Susie was terrified on the trip out, especially the leg of the trip from Salt Lake City to Long Beach.  There was so much turbulence that she said she felt like a yo-yo.

In the meantime, 1-2 days before they got back, I rediscovered an old love.  I didn’t finish The Sad Hospital, but several evenings I would sit down with my ballpoint and the appointment book I’ve been using.  I found myself working at a snail’s pace, and the ideas weren’t coming any more quickly than that.  Acting on a hunch, I went down to the basement and brought up my Smith-Corona Galaxie XII manual typewriter, a portable.  (This is not the one I bought at a Salvation Army for $ .80–that is a Royal Royalite which cannot keep up with my Pete Townshend typing technique.)  I put the typewriter on the dining room table, put in a piece of paper, and pretty soon I had typed 4.5 pages of the story, and I had a pretty good rhythm going.

Part of what inspired it was that earlier in the evening I had been watching a DVD of Kerouac: King of the Beats, which I highly recommend.  It’s narrated by Peter Coyote (who sounds almost identical to Henry Fonda), and the interviews and the readings are excellent, and it is bookended by Kerouac’s appearance on The Steve Allen Show, when he was so smashed he could barely keep his head up.

Anyway, one of the “extras” on the DVD displayed the legendary 40′ Teletype roll on which Kerouac typed On the Road for days on end, living on coffee and speed, and getting up only to go to the bathroom.  A person is gently unrolling it, and the camera pans over all the words and the typeovers and the handwritten notes, etc.  The person unrolls this the same way I have seen people handle  the Torah at synagogue.  Kerouac’s voice reads the San Francisco jazz chapter of On the Road, and this cuts back and forth with a picture of someone at an Underwood Standard No. 5 typing away at the roll.

I remembered that the typewriter had always been my best writing instrument, so that was when I brought my Galaxie XII out of retirement.  In high school, my dad did not allow me to stay up late watching TV, and he would be in my bedroom in a flash if I had the radio too loud, but he and my stepmother–very rare for them–said nothing negative if I was up typing half the night.

To make it official, I need to transfer Leo’s picture from the Royalite.  This is a picture of Leo Tolstoy that I copied from online a long time ago–a good role model for writing, conduct of life, and spiritual thought.  The picture is kind of like the little Beethoven statue that Schroeder in Peanuts always kept on his piano.  Tolstoy is still revered for his writing, of course–the fiction, at least.  I think the religious writing shows him at his best, but his brand of Christianity never caught on once he died.  It reeked too much of effort for most Christians to try.

When Writers Were Prestigious

I’m back at my home base again, typing this blog entry at the Franklinton branch of the library.  I’m back in Franklinton, where the moon landing is fake and professional wrestling is real.

I was looking at YouTube clips yesterday while Steph and Susie were getting ready for a recital.  One of the ones I saw was the opening credits for The Saint, the spy/mystery drama starring Roger Moore which was televised in the early ’60s.  I liked Roger Moore as James Bond (although, watching Saint reruns, I see that he played James Bond as Simon Templar), but something else made me respect the show even more.  During the opening credits, the title of the show, The Saint, would be shown, next to its trademark–a stick man with a halo.  It would then say “by Leslie Charteris,” before “Starring Roger Moore.”  In that era, writing was even more prestigious than acting, and either one was more prestigious than television.

Another clip I watched (and saved to my favorites) was the ending clip from Stephen J. Cannell Productions.  I never knew which shows he produced, so it was always happenstance if I saw the ending of them.  (I knew he did The A-Team, one show I wouldn’t watch if you paid me.)  Instead of the M-G-M lion, the ending shot showed Cannell sitting in his study, busily typing away on an IBM Selectric III.  He’d pull the paper out of the platen and toss it in the air.  Then it would become animated and freeze into the Cannell trademark.  (Except for research, he still uses a typewriter today.)

While Steph and Susie are in California next week, my numero uno project is finishing The Sad Hospital, my children’s book about mental illness.  I’ll be wielding a ballpoint for much of that project, until I finish it.  Then I’ll do the rewriting on the computer.  I hope I can have my Pilot EasyTouch in hand by the time they clear Columbus airspace, but nobody will be more surprised than I am if that actually happens.  To expedite things, I may even bring my portable Royal Royalite manual typewriter out of retirement.  (This is the one I bought for $ .80 at the Salvation Army!)

Just Some Quick News…

We found out earlier in the week that Susie did not make it into the Just So Stories cast.  She’s disappointed, but she still wants to see the performance in August.  I’m proud of her lack of bitterness… I’d be unable to hear Kipling’s name for a year after a thumbs-down like this.  I’m still nursing grudges against the kid in nursery school who stole my Tonka truck.

Puh-Leeze!

If I’m ever hard pressed for a definition of maudlin, I can always cite this obituary.  It was online this morning at the Website for The Marietta Times, my hometown newspaper.  I knew one McCabe when I was living in Marietta, an electronics expert named Dan McCabe, who more than once did massive repairs to my fledgling stereo and tape equipment.

Without further ado, here is the gag-me prose that was printed this morning:

And so it came to pass that at 12:53 p.m. Thursday (May 31, 2007), our husband, son, brother, father, counselor, sponsor, confidant and friend, James E. McCabe, left behind the bindings of this world, and headed off into the green pastures of heaven to be with his savior, Jesus Christ.

Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer two years and five months ago. Through the grace of God, the love and tender care of his wife of 34 years, Marcia McCabe, and the constant vigilance of the entire staff of both the Strecker Cancer Center, and Marietta Memorial Hospital, with whom our deepest appreciation lies, Jim was able to live, laugh, and love longer than anyone ever thought possible. We would like to say a special word of thanks to Dr. Kelli Cawley, whose wisdom and care were unparalleled; we believe she is our special angel. Thank you, Dr. Cawley.

Jim knew that every day was a gift, and even though he was sick, he never complained. He made the most out of what he had. Jim proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. He was employed by Eramet, where he worked as a furnace operator, as well as an employee assistance representative, until he became too ill to work. He spent his last days trying to be comfortable, visiting with family and friends, and assuring all of us that he was going to be just fine. Always true to his word, we know he is resting in the arms of the angels and that he is just fine. Jim enjoyed riding his motorcycle, eating ice cream, playing with his Australian Shepherd, McCabe’s Molly Dollar, tinkering with anything mechanical, his grandson Colten, Notre Dame football, hard work and being married to Marcia.

Jim is survived by his wife, Marcia Bailey McCabe; his mother, Ruth; brother, Tom, and niece, Amanda, of Belpre; brother, Jack, and wife, Carol, of Texas; son, John, fianceé, Christina, and grandson, Colten, of Delaware, Ohio; son, Mark, of Marietta; in-laws, George and Joann Roberts, of Alliance; and many, many other relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, bikers and church parishioners.

Jim always took it one day at a time.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Mary Catholic Church, by the Rev. Monsignor John Michael Campbell. The family will greet friends from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Marietta Chapel of Cawley & Peoples Funeral Home. There will be a vigil service at 8 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Burial will be in New St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Marietta, with full military honors.

The family asks that donations go toward the St. Mary’s Parish Restoration Campaign, 506 Fourth St., Marietta, Ohio 45750.

I’m typing on an express computer at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus library.  I made a pit stop out here yesterday evening en route to another errand further out east.  On my way home, I opened my knapsack so I could take out my diary and pen to write on the bus.  No diary.  This morning, I got a call from this library and they informed me they had it in lost-and-found.  So, with Susie in tow, here I am out on the east side retrieving this future literary treasure.