What's wrong with Windows 8/10?
First let me say that I think Windows 10 is a very good operating system. It's the GUI (Graphical User Interface) that is flawed.
Microsoft has spent the last 30 years improving and refining the 'user experience' interface to their operating system. Personally I think they had it right with Windows XP.
In their attempt to make the 'user experience' the same across all platforms, (Desktops, Smart phones, Tablets) they have reduced the high end PC user with 30 inch screens to navigate using an awkward system developed so a user can navigate on a screen only 3 inches across, despite the fact that Windows only has a .3% of the smart phone market. They are two different worlds. They require different menu systems. While one can navigate using sliding columns of squares on a large screen that method is not nearly as easy as the system we had before Windows 8.
With Windows XP, all the navigation made since along with most of the error messages. If something caused an error, chances were you were given some general idea of either what went wrong or at least where to look for the problem. With windows 8/10, almost all errors are 'something went wrong'. They don't even tell you what program went wrong.
Gadgets are another thing. While I will admit, 99.9% of all gadgets were either useless, except to the person who created it, or duplicates of other Gadgets, there were a few that I found extremely useful and well designed. Microsoft eliminated Gadgets with Windows 8, claiming they had security issues. So what else is new? In my opinion, the real reason they dropped Gadget support was so developers could build Apps that they could charge for. Essentially requiring all Apps to go through App stores, they have eliminated the ability for the average small time developer to create applications because it is expensive to get your app in the store.
I actually bought a $2500 Power Book computer from Dell with Windows 8 on it. I used it for about 2 weeks before putting it down in frustration. It then got stuck it in the closet where it sat for a year until I gave it to a friend who needed a new machine.
Windows 8 was such a disaster it brought many computer manufactures to the brink of failure. During the period when Windows 8 was the thing, every time I went into my favorite computer store, I heard at least 2 or 3 people saying they need a new computer, but they didn't want Windows 8. The fact it was less than a year before Microsoft put the start menu back in, says elimination of the start menu was a major mistake. Microsoft apparently admitted that mistake, making the upgrade to Windows 10 free.
Now that I have ranted about Windows 8/10, let me state that I am now using Windows 10 on all my computers that I can install it on. But only because I have solved my two main issues with two free programs which give me back my start menu and my favorite gadgets. (Links good as of March 2016)
Classic Shell is a free program which allows you to restore the classic menu to almost any previous Windows versions, even Windows 95.
Gadgets Revived allows you to run Windows Vista/7 gadgets in Windows 8 or 10. Be careful when visiting this site, there are numourous deceptive links which will downoload other programs. Read the buttons clarefully.
One last point which is my own personal opinion. I think the flat windows are ugly. Us webmasters have been begging for years to get features like drop shadows when we have finally been awarded with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) version 3. But Microsoft has thrown away all the fancy features and gone back to the look of the earliest graphical screens. I find it very hard to find the edges of some windows.
Spam Filters Don't Work
Happy Fourth of July everybody.
For over 10 years I have preached that spam filters don't work. They are not reliable and they kill good emails too.
I can site my in box for today as a perfect example.
Today I received 3 spams and about 25 good emails. The spam filters in Outlook caught one spam, the other two ended up in my in box.
The spam filter also caught one good message and junked it. Except for the senders name, the only thing the message contained was a complete copy of the American Declaration of Independence. I guess Microsoft must think the Declaration of Independence should be labeled as spam, especially for the King of England.
Update: Over the next week, I received 4 more copies of the same email from various people. Microsoft Outlook tagged all of them a spam, but on each day I also received at least one real spam that Outlook didn't catch. I've now turned off Outlook's spam filtering.
My Resignation as IGRA Webmaster
On May 3, 2011, I sent the following memo to the IGRA board of directors, resigning my position as IGRA webmaster.
I believe the job of the webmaster is to support the desires of an organization and its board of directors to the best of his or her ability.
It is my opinion that the primary purpose of the IGRA website is to provide easy access to our rules and procedures and for communication to our members, with a secondary goal of providing some content for the public to make the site informative and interesting.
While I have long supported the idea that we need to develop a section of our website aimed at the general public, I am not convinced that the direction the proposed website is heading is in the best interest of IGRA or its members. I believe that we should be concentrating our efforts into expanding and integrating our online presence, such as with the rodeo scoring and announcer information system, rather than expending efforts on rebuilding the user interface to make our site flashy so it looks like all the other sites on the Internet.
From a personal viewpoint, I believe we should avoid such stereotypic phrases and concepts as "men dancing with men, drag queens on steers..." or camp style photos such as we see focused on in many of the periodicals. That is precisely the stereotype we have been fighting, ever since Phil Ragsdale first proposed a Gay Rodeo in 1975.
I have frequently tried to make it clear to the owners of the 42 websites I have managed over the years that I don't develop content. The content development portion of the job is very difficult for me; I only assemble and manage content developed by others. As such we need other members to create the content that can be used to expand the website. Thus far, I have failed to find anyone who is willing to put in the effort to develop content specifically for the public.
WordPress, the proposed development and management tool for the new site, is very popular and is an extremely powerful tool for site management. If a website contains large amounts of information which is continually changing or moving, such as a newspaper or large corporate site, then a complex system like WordPress is ideal for managing that content. I do not believe it is the correct system for sites, such as IGRA.com, that primarily consist of static pages. When one falls prey to using very complex systems, which few know the inner workings of, when a much simpler system is perfectly adequate for the particular purpose, they fall into a trap of not knowing what to do when the system fails.
Most of you know that I write fluently in HTML, it is my second language. I have been developing websites for over 15 years now and the basic background language of HTML has changed little in that time. It is just that most of the code has been scrambled and hidden from the average site developer with the result that few people understand what is happening behind the face of the web page.
Over those 15 years, I have developed and refined my "style" to what you currently see on the IGRA home page. I have, many times, tried new ideas and gimmicks, such as flashy introduction pages and drop down menus. I invariably go back to my old layout because I have not found useful improvement under the new systems. Usually the new ideas are less user-friendly and frequently get in the way of the purpose of the website. I continue to receive frequent comments as to how easy my sites are to navigate.
At the present stage of my life, I do not want to put out a major effort to learn a totally new system, just to manage one website.
After much soul searching and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to move on and turn the reins of the IGRA website over to another rider. I will continue updating the current system until the new site can be put in place, and I am willing to continue other web related projects for IGRA, such as meeting net-casts or server hosting during convention.
The last 6 years have been the most enjoyable period of my life and I have truly had fun working with IGRA and its people. I have made many friends while working with IGRA and hope to continue to be involved with Gay Rodeo for many years to come.
I don't watch much television these days. There are too many deceptive ads on TV. I spend most of my time on the computer. If I come across a site that is full of flashing ads, that site gets closed very quickly. I can't watch an ad without seeing the deceptive practices embedded in it. Some ads are not too bad, but all of them try to make you think they are saying something they aren't actually saying.
While not an advertisement, a good example of how advertising can be misleading is the case of the chemical compound Dihydrogen Monoxide. This story has been circulating the Internet for years, mainly because people don't bother to analyze what they are reading (or hearing on TV) before reacting. According to Snopes.com, in 1997, Nathan Zohner, a sophomore in Idaho Falls won first place in a local science fair. He presented a report, similar to what follows, to 50 ninth graders. His winning paper analyzed how they responded as to what should be done about the chemical.
SHOULD DIHYDROGEN MONIXIDE BE BANNED?
Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.
Dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
Now that you have a good idea of all the terrible things this chemical is responsible for, let me explain that Dihydrogen Monoxide is actually water, plain old H2O. For those who are not into chemistry, the "Di" means 2 atoms of hydrogen, and "Mono" means one atom of oxygen. An Oxide is where oxygen has combined with another element, such as in Iron Oxide, which is rust. Now read the entry above again with the knowledge that we are talking about water and you will relize that everything the paper says is absolutely true, however twisted.
Back to my point. How many times have you heard commercials stating that their product is "better". Better than what? Or that our paper towel stands up longer than the competition. Which competition? That's easy to say when compaired to the cheepest generic brand towel selected because it will break down first.
Another popular one these days are lawyer ads telling you that if you have suffered some bad thing, call them. They don't say that they will get your money regardless of wheather the case is won or not. Or if the case is won, they get most of the settlement, and you will get a couple of hundred dollars.
A number of years ago, such a group sued a large electric company which has power lines running across our property. The suit involved a fiber-optic line the power company had installed on their towers to allow them to control and monitor the substations along the route. Someone in the company decided to lease out extra bandwidth on the fiber-optic cable to phone and internet companies. The suit alleged that the right-of-way the power company had, only allowed them to run power lines, not communication lines. Eventually we, and anyone else who owned property the line crossed (must have been hundreds of thousands of customers), received a check for $250. That equated to hundreds of millions of dollars, most of which went into the pockets of the lawyers. Think, who actually ended up paying for this? We as customers of the power company, in the form of higher electric bills. In essence, we sued ourselves and paid the lawyers to manage the process.
I think it is important in life to learn to read-between-the lines. Once one becomes proficient in between-the-line reading, almost all advertising becomes hogwash. While a specific product may be excellent, I can't recall a single TV ad in recent years that didn't try to maneuver the viewer into believing they heard something they didn't. As a result I watch very little TV these days, it's too depressing. I watch an occasional football game or an old rerun of a good program with the ads muted, and that's it.
It's Buyer Beware. So think before you respond to an ad.
Netgear technical support isn't technical.
Today I have come to the conclusion that the so called technical support offered by Netgear is really a department setup to hold the hand of the inexperienced buyer of their products who have average problems in not understanding a technology which can be confusing to the average homeowner.
For those of you who are regular visitors to my webcam review site, I believe you can recognize that I have fairly extensive experience with FTP servers and clients, having worked with FTP and the problems it can cause for over 10 years now.
About 2 weeks ago I purchased a new Netgear router with 5 port Gigibit switch and N wireless networking, model WNR3500. I was extremely pleased at how fast it was and how extensive its features were. So after configuring it to make my server accessible from the Internet, I happily surfed my way through the last couple of weeks. Yesterday I received an email from one of my friends that he could not log into the FTP server in my basement.
My friend's FTP client was logging into the server but when it tried to retreive a directory listing nothing happened. This is a common problem when an FTP server is behind a firewall or NAT (Network Address Translation) router and one is trying to use Active mode on their FTP client, which is why I use Passive mode on my server. (I'm not going to try to explain that here since it is covered on my FTP server page)
I spent some time troubleshooting and finally isolated the problem as being in the new router. After fighting with the problem for several hours and getting nowhere, in desperation I overrode my normally forwarded ports and opened a DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) through the router to my server, to no avail. The problem was still present.
I concluded the router's firmware was not properly forwarding passive mode packets. Every other protocol, including HTTP, remote desktop protocol, SNTP time service, and RTSP streaming media are forwarding perfectly.
My first call to Netgear tech support was answered promptly and pleasantly. I explained what my problem was but the lady didn't seem to understand what I was trying to say. It was fairly obvious she didn't understand anything about FTP. I accepted that and tried to explain what steps I had already taken. I was put on hold for a couple of minutes. When she came back on line I was asked to perform a series of steps which I had already done.
I played along as best as I could and reported no change. She then began asking certain questions which were obviously being displayed on a screen, such as are you trying to test your FTP from inside your house. I explained I was using a remote desktop control and was running an FTP client from a machine outside my network. Before the conversation was over, some 30 minutes later, I had repeated this point at least 5 times. And yes I already knew, the description of my problem is exactly what you get if you are trying to FTP from inside my own network using a public IP address or domain name.
She also asked me to try connecting using a series of instructions that made no since at all. She was telling me to make my initial connection through the passive port range my server is configured to use, an instruction which is totally meaningless. That's a bit like saying drive up Main Street and turn left on 3rd through 70th streets. The initial FTP connection is through a single port, usually port 21.
She kept asking what I was using to connect to the server and I told her repeatedly I was using FileZilla a very popular FTP client. Eventually she told me because they couldn't support FileZilla, I had to call a different number for more advanced support. It was later that I realized I had been talking to her for almost exactly 30 minutes when this put off came.
So I called the next number and for about 30 minutes I went through pretty much the same routine asking me many of the same questions and putting me through many of the same tests. This second support person was telling me to do more things, which were totally illogical to anyone who knows anything about FTP. I was instructed to forward port 23 through to the server, even though I had already opened a DMZ directly to the server. (DMZ essentially forwards all 65,000 available ports to a specific machine, so forwarding a single port is meaningless when DMZ is on.) Forwarding port 23 makes no since because 23 is the default port for Telnet, it has nothing to do with FTP and I tried to explain that but she insisted I forward it anyway. Same results.
After I had been going through this kind of mindless stuff for 29 minutes and 20 seconds (I was now watching the clock), she suddenly told me I needed to download and reflash the router's bios, and if that didn't work call back.
Ok, now an hour wasted. I reflashed the bios, and of course, the same problem was still there. The next person I talked to was a man who was very difficult to understand. I explained what steps I had followed, and tried to explain in more detail exactly when the problem occurs since the previous two people had failed to enter the exact point at which the failure was occuring. They had simply written, "can't log into FTP server" which was not correct. I was logging in, I just couldn't get past the directory listing.
It only took this person 5 minutes to say "Take the router back to where you bought it and get another one."
All three people had basically brushed me off, and the longest I was able to talk to any specific person was 30 minutes. I now believe they get points taken away if it takes longer than 30 minutes to solve a problem.
Since all other services were passing the router perfectly, and a bios reflash had no effect, it is very unlikely the problem could be with the hardware. A hardware defect would show up in other protocol routing. I am also out of luck because I had thrown away the packing materials. They made no effort to offer me a return authorization, only take it back to the store.
Usually, when I reach the point of having to call tech support for a computer or software, there has either been a hardware failure, or a bug in the software. Technical support, which has no option to send you to someone who knows the specific product inside and out, is not, in my opinion, technical support, but a department that is designed to get rid of your phone call, rather than truly trying to solving a problem.
My old Trendnet router, which has become somewhat unstable, is now back in place and I will have to search elsewhere for another model. Can you tell I am frustrated?
Update, October 11, 2009
Just thought I would update this in saying I eventually gave up completely trying to use a purchased router. Now I use the built in routing capability of Windows 2003 Server which is running on my primary server.
Another update, May 15, 2011
I have given up on this router. I have had it running as an access point in my new house for several months now, but when I try to connect a notebook to that device (rather than the D-Link router on the other side of the house) I have long term connection problems. After a few hours the router locks up and I have to reboot the router to clear it. Today I decided to check Netgear's website to see if they had any updates to the device firmware. The current firmware version is the same one that shipped with my router 2 years ago. It would appear that either no one else has tried using this router with an FTP server, or their tech support department is still turning people away rather than reporting the problem to the software designers. That router is now in my trash can to be hauled away tomorrow.
A Blog? What's a Blog?
I've had several people contact me recently asking why I don't do a blog on one of the blog websites. There are actually a number of reasons.
While I appreciate other's comments that I seem to have some interesting or useful things to say, I'm afraid this page will be the extent to my blogging efforts for the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, check my travels page. That looks to become something close to a blog, with rather frequent entries, as my partner and I begin traveling across the country in our travel trailer.
Can You Say "Cowboy Frank"?
Years ago I came across a website which, at the time, I liked very much. It was aimed at those who had a fetish in various types of "gear" such as firemen, cowboys, police uniforms, rubber and such. It had some great galleries and many of the photos from that early site are still in my screen saver collections. I even had a profile on it for a while. Well that site faded away, but after a couple of years was renewed by someone else who turned it into a membership site.
I don't commonly join membership sites, but two nights ago I decided to join this one again since the basic membership was free. I picked the profile name CowboyFrank, which seemed appropriate and was available. I spent about an hour setting up my profile and uploading about 7 or 8 photos, some of which had my domain name overlay of CowboyFrank.net which are on most of the photos I have shot as seen in my galleries.
The site's policy said that if you want a watermark on your photos, it should have your profile name in it so they can be sure the picture is yours and not stolen from another site. I'm not sure how that would guarantee they are yours, but I figured that having my profile name, CowboyFrank, matching my domain name, CowboyFrank, should be sufficient. I am fully aware that these photos are subject to being saved to peoples computers and I just want credit for my photos.
The next day I found several e-mails on the group from other members that were saying they had enjoyed my CowboyFrank.net website for years and were glad to see I had finally "discovered" this site. I also received the following message,
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - 11:06:36 PM (ET/US -5GMT)
One or more of your photos were not approved because of a watermark that contains a web site address. Due to the volume of photos that have to be reviewed on GF, we are unable to verify if the web site address is a personal web site or a commercial web site. It is not uncommon that photos are taken from other web sites have been watermarked by other web sites and then posted to other web sites such as GF. If you prefer your photo be watermarked with some type of identification, include your GF member name or online chat screen name such as a Yahoo or MSN ID.
For further information, please refer to the Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy.
Obviously the guy didn't even bother to look at the mark, but simply blocked the photos because there were marks on them. If there is one thing in this world I can't stand it is people who don't bother to read, look or listen, then jump to conclusions and make major decisions based on incorrect information. This, I might add, is the primary reason most wars are lost.
Within 5 minutes I had written an angry letter to the site contact and deleted my profile, along with my bookmark to the site. I have no interest in being a member of any organization that is managed by inept people who can't read or even follow their own rules.
Cowboy Frank, On Being Gay
Being the webmaster for the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), I know hundreds of gay people. The vast majority, if you met them on the street, are people you wouldn't know from a straight person.
The creator, if one exists, made me the way I am. It was not a choice. The only choice for me, is to be what I am and not hide behind a facade trying to act like others expect me to.
It is only the bigots with taught prejudices, and narrow minds, that can't see the world for what it is. I believe we each, gay straight or bisexual, should be what and who we are. I am proud of being gay, but I have no right to parade it in front of those who aren't interested, or find it offensive. Neither do I believe others should have the right to demean me for what I am.
Today I tried going to 2 stores to purchase 2 specific items. My first stop was to a Circuit City store in Fairfax Virginia in an area called Camp Washington. I wanted a couple of power taps made by Monster. I had purchased one last week from a different store and loved it, so wanted to get a couple more.
I walked into the store and back to the computer department. En route, I had 4 different people ask if they could help me, I thanked them and said I knew what I was looking for.
I quickly found the items, but one had a price tag saying clearance. I figured I better get what I wanted now while it was still available. Then I noticed the same item on the other end of the shelf without a clearance tag at a higher price. I studied both carefully but could see no difference. I asked a clerk to help. He immediately took the clearance tag off the shelf and said take this to the front and they should charge you the marked price.
Ok. Now there is a peg on the shelf with merchandise and no label. The next several people who might want that item will have to look up a sales person and have them look up the price. When I have that problem I just leave and don't bother.
Ok, now I went up to the front of the store and looked for an open register. The only person on a register didn't look like he was actually running the register. I asked and he said he was just looking up a price. I looked around. There were 2 people working the service desk helping people who were picking up repaired stuff. No one else was anywhere near the front registers.
I stood around trying to figure what register might be open. I waited about a minute and no one at all showed up at a register. At this point I was getting pretty angry. I yelled out loud enough so the entire store could hear, "Cashier needed at the front!"
The only response was a very snotty lady behind the counter who was walking away "well just give me a minute!". I had no idea who she was except she was walking away from the counter. She left and went into the back room. She could have been a janitor as far as I could tell. Absolutely no one offered any particular register for me go to, or that they would be with me in just a second.
I seldom loose my temper but with that snotty response I flipped out. I threw the items I had behind the desk, yelled out that I would never shop here again and stomped out. I got applause from several people who were standing in that service line.
Five years ago it was hard to find anyone in that store to help you because they were all busy with customers. Today there were at least 15 or 20 sales people standing around with their hands in their pockets with nothing to do. But no one manning the cash registers. When I got home and related the story to my partner, he said he had heard that Circuit City was about to file for Chapter 11 bankrupty. With that kind of attitude of the employees I am not surprised.
One might say this is because of the so called economic depression we are supposed to be in right now. All I can say is when I go to my favorite computer store, they have every register open and still can't keep up with the huge numbers of customers they have. The same goes for Best Buy. They are crowded every day I go in there. I think the problem lies with the management of the company, or the store, not lack of customers wanting to buy stuff.
The second item I needed was a replacement fuse for my truck. Next to the Circuit City was a K-Mart so I figured their auto department would have them. Another disappointment. Their auto department was pathetic. They had car batteries, chrome wheel replacements, cups, seat covers and oil. Fuses and light bulbs, not a one. You can't sell what you don't have.
K-Mark can't seem to learn from Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has the product, they have efficiently run front ends (in most cases), and huge numbers of shoppers.
Recently the computer chain Comp-USA went out of business. Their problems were, a very poorly run front end, and half the stuff on the shelves had no price tags on them, or you couldn't find the tag that matched the item. If you have to look up a scarce clerk just to find how much an item costs, you will probably go somewhere else next time. I certainly did. They got none of my business during the last 2 years they were open, even though I was in the stores almost every week, because nothing I was interested in had any prices on them.
Many years ago I was lucky enough to work for a retail manager who taught me just how a store should be run. His name was Cal Doyle and at the time we worked for a now defunct company called Dart Drug. I wish I knew if he was still alive, and if so, where he lives so I could thank him for opening my understanding of business.
Mister Doyle taught me that to be a successful store, you have to...
This, I might add, is the basis for all my websites too. I try to have the product, (information) and make it easy to find. You can reach anything on my site with no more than 3 mouse clicks, I call that my 3 click rule. That relates in a way to checking out in a store, it's fast.
So many retail businesses and restaurants don't seem to realize that 98% of their business is repeat customers. Alienate a customer and your competitor will get their business, and you will go out of business.
(Next morning.) When I got up this morning I did a Google search on Circuit City and Chapter 11. It appears that last year the chain fired most of their good management staff at $14 to $15 an hour because they were making too much, and replaced them with $9 low wage personnel. (a manager for a multi-million dollar store that is only getting $15? Seems petty low to me) Here are a few of the hits I found, some of which echo my experiences.
Enough of my ranting for today. I hope all your shopping experiences are better than mine was today.
Our current image of Santa Claus has developed through a long and complex history of events and publications. For some very interesting history's of the Santa legend check these sites, Urban Legends, and Coca-Cola. Needless to say, Santa is now a white bearded, usually plump figure dressed in red and white, usually wearing black knee high boots.
What it is that causes an individual to develop a particular sexual fetish might make an interesting study if anyone were to make the endeavor. I am attracted to redneck types. I also get turned on by rubber hip boots, especially when worn by a hunky, muscular, redneck fireman. I remember watching a TV program way back in the 1950s. I don't remember much about the program, but I do remember it involved a couple of guys that were spending a week in a remote cabin while on a fishing or hunting trip. Most of the time they were in the cabin, they went around in just their long johns and folded down rubber hip boots. This was years before I reached puberty, but I still found this extremely arousing. Lots of people consider getting turned on by rubber hip boots to be quite kinky.
For the last 4 years I have regularly worn red long johns around the house. I find them warmer and a bit more comfortable than the bathrobe which I use to wear. Since I also love rubber hip boots, I can frequently be found wearing a favorite pair which, rolled down, comes up just below the knees. Last week my partner brought home a Santa hat he found at a dollar store. I started warring it with my red long johns and, with my gray beard, I've been getting e-mails telling me I look like Santa.
Now, here I sit in my chair, gray beard, red long johns, Santa hat and rubber hip boots. This Santa, for one, is definitely a kinky redneck. Think about it.
Something that most people don't realize is that the actual value of a dollar is not directly related to how much you can buy with it, but rather how much is accomplished in working for it.
Knowledge, well distributed, is power.
Knowledge, kept to one, or a small group, goes nowhere except a dead end.
Just consider what the Internet has done for our society in the last 10 years and compair that to the privious 100 years.
How easy it is now to find out about something. A quick Google and you have your answers. 10 years ago it was a trip to the library, loads of reasearch and even then you might not find what you needed.
CowboyFrank.net has been online for six years now, and my gay pages have been around for over eight years. In all that time, I have received only three anti-gay e-mails.
The latest anti-gay message came earlier this week. The fellow said he was offended because I was claiming to be a real cowboy, and by that, I am attacking the most American thing in the world, the cowboy. He says "Real cowboys aren't gay." He backs his claim by stating that Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid weren't gay, so there can't be any such thing as a gay cowboys. Hum, I can't say too much for his choice of examples. I thought Holiday, and Earp were lawmen, didn't know they were cowboys. Also thought Billy the Kid was a crook and a murderer.
He says it's people like me that made Brokeback Mountain such a huge success. I thought it was the author, actors and director that made the movie a success. Didn't know I had anything to do with it. In fact my page first appeared on the internet just about the time the original story of Brokeback Mountain was being written. If this fellow had actually read my about me page, he would have realized that I don't claim to be a "real" cowboy, just a bit closer than what I use to be.
It always amazes me how many people consider themselves experts on subjects they know nothing about. I don't claim to be an expert, but I am the webmaster for the International Gay Rodeo Association, (IGRA) and two local gay rodeo associations. IGRA's current membership is in excess of 5,000. Of those, I personally know about 20 who are real working cattle ranch cowboys.
Interestingly enough, the e-mail I received just before his, was from a real working gay cowboy who happened to find his photo in my Phoenix rodeo gallery. He was writing asking permission to use my photos on his gay leather profile page.
Oh, and the anti-gay e-mail guy also claims real cowboys carry guns. Another hum. I own a gun, (a Colt .45 Peacemaker) does that make me a real cowboy?
Follow-up: About a week after posting the above article I received the following message. Keep in mind the title refers to the original negative e-mail, not me.
Pigs don't know pigs stink.
Your ignorant expert obviously has his ideas of real cowboys from Hollywood. When Roy Rogers insists that real cowboys don't cuss, I say F**k that. I am Japanese by nationality. I have an Indian name (withheld). My first ranch job was near Powder River and we all know Wyoming cowboys do sheep when we need to give the buffalo a rest. I don't carry a gun; I don't need one. I don't drink because a deputy in Oregon strongly suggested I quit, which also has something to do with why I don't carry a gun. I am not gay, but I have many friends who are. I also have many friends who are Republicans and I am willing to even forgive that. So if there's anyone who fails the cowboy stereotype sniff test, it is I.
But real cowboys are secure enough in their cowboy-ness that it isn't anyone else's affirmation that will make them any more or any less a cowboy. A cowboy is a boy who works with cows, including wranglers who are boys who work with horses. That simple definition, offered by my first ramrod in Wyoming, says nothing about sex, nationality, religion or lack thereof, sexual orientation, drug of choice, planet of origin, or manner of verbal expression. I can tell you got one thick hide and you're willing to share the benefit of your experiences with horses.
If you're not a real cowboy, you make a damn good replica.
While this message was speaking directly to me and made me feel very warm inside, his last sentence really hit home. It made me think of all the acquaintances I have made since I first created CowboyFrank.net. Some of you are cowboy admirers, some cowboy wanna-bees, some rodeo cowboys, a few are real cowboys. But all of you are real people. Whether real cowboy or replica, you all make damn good friends.
Thanks to all those and for all my website fans for making the last 8 years the best part of my life.
Leading a Horse to Water
Horses are very curious animals. Most are quite friendly. But they are also very cautious. If a horse doesn't know you, they will be very cautious about you, but will probably be interested in what you are doing or going to do. Once a horse decides you are a friend rather than an enemy, they will generally want to be your friend too.
From this point on, as long as you don't abuse the friendship, most horses will try their very best to be helpful and do whatever you ask them to do. This is when the true art of communication comes in.
I have many times seen a rider become frustrated with his horse because the horse wasn't doing what the rider wanted. At the same time the horse was getting frustrated with the rider as the rider gave confusing or conflicting directions. For you see the rider was speaking to the horse in the horse's own language without understanding what any of the words meant. Essentially the rider wanted to go forward, but was telling the horse to turn right, veer left, backup, spin to the right, stop and gallop, all at the same time. Anyone would become frustrated with that kind of direction. I can say this for sure because in my early days of riding, I was frequently the rider being frustrated.
Every spot and way you touch your horse, how you pull or direct the reins, or even how your body weight shifts in the saddle, is telling the horse how to perform. With a horse that is "well tuned" to the rider, or maybe I should say a rider that is well tuned to the horse, variations of as little as moving one rein up or down an inch, or even whether you shift a pound or two from your right hip to the left, will indicate a different instruction to the horse.
About a year ago I attended a "workshop" hosted by Pat Perelli. I was hoping to learn more about communication with the horses I was involved with. In this I was disappointed as the so called workshop was basically a very entertaining circus designed to sell his courses. Don't get me wrong, his system obviously works, and quite well too. But it wasn't what I was looking for.
During the program, two horses were brought into the arena by their owners. One of these horses, a black quarter horse, appeared to me to be desperately trying to understand what its owner wanted, but couldn't. The other horse was obviously frustrated and fighting with its owner. Both horses were released into this environment, which was rather cluttered with the circus type equipment left from earlier demonstrations. The owners left the arena. The two horses proceeded to jump around excitedly, possibly a bit frightened, but appeared quite curious about their new surroundings.
As Pat Perelli and his wife began to walk around the arena, the black quite suddenly became very interested in what Pat was doing. I was watching the black carefully at this point. Within a few minutes Pat had the horse willingly doing exactly what Pat wanted. The owner had been unable to achieve this in any way. It appeared to me that the horse suddenly saw a human speaking a language he could understand in the midst of a crowd who was speaking a totally alien language. In this I mean a visual language, not an audible language.
It is a pleasure to watch a true team of horse and rider preform together. When a rider truly communicates with his horse, both the rider and horse are one and both can happily work as a single unit. This is the basis of the art form dressage.
Intelligence, another perspective.
This incident got me to thinking. What is intelligence? The dictionary defines it as the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity...
We tend to think of intelligence as a short term phenomena, but couldn't it also apply to extremely long term effects? Consider, for example, how plants learn over eons to live in certain climates. The tamarack trees of northern Maine only grow in the northern forests; you will not find one in the tropics because they would die from the heat. Likewise, an African Violet will wilt and die if left in the sunlight without enough water. They will not grow in the desert.
The pitch pines of the south eastern states have evolved over eons to have a bark that is fire resistant. Left to nature they flourish in areas that have periodic burn-offs of the lower shrubs. In fact some trees will only germinate in freshly burned soil. Those have to have fire resistant bark to keep from being burned up themselves. Doesn't it seem conceivable that this could be a form of intelligence, much lower than ours, but still intelligence of a sort?
Our power lines have not been around very long in the time-span of the world, but if they were to exist for hundreds of thousands of years, isn't it possible that the trees would eventually learn to grow away from them? A process of slow evolution might produce pine trees that would't grow under power lines simply because those would not survive, they would burn up when reaching a certain height. Or maybe a pine tree that grew only to 15 feet and stopped before reaching the lines.
Plants evolve to exist in the environments they have available to them. This seems to me to be a form of intelligence. A much slower form than ours, but the long term effect is the same. They learn to survive. This certainly could be thought of as a rudimentary form of intelligence.
When your partner is feeling low, frustrated, happy, or excited, you know right off, just by the way they hold their body or the way the skin folds differently on their forehead, and a myriad of other visual clues. Visual communication. Just think about the subtleties of this language. The far away look of the eyes when day dreaming. The twinkle in the eye that indicates happiness. The slight twist of the lip when someone is pouting. The other species have their own versions, and within their crowd, they have no difficulty in recognizing the signs. It's just that the language doesn't transcend between species very well.
We can read some signs from the others. When your horse is saying "leave me alone", he puts his ears back. Combine that with the head stretched forward and a little down, then you know he means business. In order for us to recognize this, he, in his horse language, must be screaming like a raving lunatic. All horse owners are familiar with the way their horse twitches their lower lip when relaxed. That must really mean something, most of us humans just can't interpret it the way another horse can. Just ponder the subtle facial expressions our horse must have that his fellow horses can read, but we have no clue about.
There was another one advertising a battery powered scrub brush as being the greatest thing since the invention of soap, and it was repeated 4 times during the same hour. If I order now I can get not one, but two of these for only four times what they will eventually sell for at the corner drug store when they can't push any more off on the TV viewers.
And now many of the stations are sending us popup advertisements for shows coming up next. I don't need to know what is coming up next, that's why I have a program schedule. Doesn't the popularity of all the Internet popup blockers tell these people something?
Back in the mid 1980's, when satellite TV stations first began to emerge, I worked for the local cable TV company as a service tech. Something that most people don't realize is that your cable company pays each of the satellite channels a monthly fee for each customer that receives that station. Back then it was fourteen cents per channel per subscriber. Many people are of the belief that the commercials are paying for the cable channels. In fact more than the cost of operation is already paid for most channels through the distribution fee. Their commercials are pure profit on top of the profit the stations are already getting. Think about it, maybe 20,000,000 subscribers at fourteen cents each per month? You do the math.
Now I don't mind commercials too much, after all I can always mute them or change the channel or turn the TV off and go surf the Internet. Hum... I wonder if that is why TV is losing audience to the Internet? I just wish they would give me a little consideration and mix them up a little rather than these mind numbing repetitive, and frequently, stupid commercials.
When the squirrel panics he runs in an unpredictable zig-zag pattern. The squirrel is trying to escape his enemy. In nature this would tend to confuse the predator. Hopefully the fox will be confused just long enough for the squirrel to get to a tree. In the world of man made cars this doesn't work well because the car won't try to follow the zig-zag. There is a high possibility the back and fourth pattern will, too often, end up crossing the car's straight line course. If the squirrel could remain calm, he would realize, from experience, the car is going to stay on course and all he has to do is run to the side.
When a human panics, he will often start running without thinking, just like the squirrel. How many people panic, and end up getting lost in the woods because they didn't stop to take note of which way they are running. It seems silly when we see a person in a movie being run down by a train. They start running away from the train down the track. But in a panic mode, that is very likely what a small child would do. Only an adult with experience in panic situations would stop to think which way is the best escape.
So it seems to me that panic is a genetic trait embedded in our genes from the earliest times of evolution. It doesn't always work, but in a natural situation, it would work frequently enough to keep the species alive and population numbers stable.
Are animals intelligent? You bet they are.
The species equus (horses) has roughly 120 words in its entire language. They only use 10 or 15 of them on a regular basis. Most of our civilization is based on our ability to communicate what we have learned, or reasoned out, without the student having to experience it for himself. Where would our civilization be if we only had 120 words rather than hundreds of thousands? How would our daily lives go if we only used 10 words to chit-chat?
Consider this, try to reason out a simple idea, such as how to screw in a light bulb. Now imagine you only have 10 words you can use to teach another person how to screw in the light bulb. These 10 words you have are normally used for survival, such as, go away, help, danger, or I'm hungry. In our little demonstration here, you are not allowed to act out the process because you have to be able to write it down so thousands of others could learn the process. Impossible you say? You're right. Not to mention trying to explain where to get a light bulb, much less what one is for or the theory of how it works.
Our civilization is based almost entirely on our ability to communicate intricate details to each other in both verbal and written form. Just because the other animals don't posess the aptitude to comprehend complex languages, does not mean they are any less intelligent than ourselves, only that they have different aptitudes. When one person in a crowd senses danger, can you jump from a relaxed position into a full run along with all the others at the same instant like a heard of horses, or a school of fish?
The news today...
Man seems to be totally complacent in his belief that he is superior to the other animals.