Thursday, September 29, 2011

Me Tarzan. You Jane.

My favorite is bottom left.

Emerson Eggerich is the main speaker for the Love and Respect Conference: (http://loveandrespect.com/). He is an amusing, insightful speaker and gets his point across with loads of humor.
Emerson
Marriage conferences like to point out the obvious. Men and women are different. I think we’re all grateful for that, but there’s more. Lots more.
Just to be clear up front, everyone wants and needs both love and respect. However, we are hard-wired (so to speak) for different interpretations. Men crave respect. When we get respect, we actually feel loved. Women crave love. When they are truly loved, they feel respected.
Men, they said in the conference, are blue, with blue glasses, blue headphones and blue megaphones. They see, hear and speak the color blue. Women are pink, with pink glasses, pink headphones and pink megaphones. They see, hear and speak the color pink. When men speak to women, the blue sound gets garbled in the pink headphones, and vice-versa. We don’t see things the same way. Neither is wrong, they said, but simply different.
This leads to what Emerson calls “The Crazy Cycle” and I immediately recognized it as a system archetype called escalation. The man loves the woman, but he’s talking blue, and she doesn’t hear the pink she expects. The woman shows respect to the man, but she’s talking pink and he doesn’t hear the blue he expects. Disappointed, he shows less love. Unloved, she shows less respect. Things go down the drain from there.
(If you’re good with systems, you also know the other side of that. If the man speaks pink and the woman speaks blue, then there is still escalation, but positive escalation instead of negative.)
One example of relationships getting rocky was the story of a woman who came to Emerson and said her husband was an island and she had paddled around him for years trying to find a place to land. She was fixin’ to head to a different island where she could land. She was done paddling and quit complaining and vying for affection. The man thought things were going great. This, said Emerson, is why so many men are blind-sided by divorce. They think when their wife is quiet, things are good. It's the opposite.

Emerson pointed out that he knew one couple was in trouble because the husband turned to the wife and said “I love you so much, I’d die for you.” Her arms folded, and looking straight ahead, the wife replied “Oh, sure. You keep saying that, but you never do.”
There is a pretty good article at http://manofthehouse.com/relationships/communication/8-signs-girlfriend-leaving-you. It covers some key points.
8 Signs She Is Leaving You
July 02, 2011, By Karl Withakay
 As a man, I'm not tuned into women's feelings; it's just the way I am. When I'm unhappy, I say why I'm unhappy and what can be done to fix it. Women aren't like that. They speak in code or give subtle hints, and usually all of it goes right over my head. Here are some of the things I learned about rocky relationships, and how to break down the barrier between men and women. If your wife or girlfriend is considering leaving the relationship, it's likely that she'll behave in at least one of the following ways:
1.       She no longer confides in you, and she isn't interested in talking with you.
2.       She does her best to avoid you by staying out late, making plans without you and spending more time with friends.
3.       She doesn't complain about things that she always complained about before. This may be because she thinks that she's going to leave you soon anyway.
4.       She doesn't seem glad to see you when you get home; she no longer misses you.
5.       She has no interest in sex.
6.       She has a "whatever" attitude. She doesn't want to discuss any plans for the future or even for next week.
7.       She doesn't like to hold hands with you or be touched, kissed or hugged by you. When she kisses you, she acts like she's kissing a relative. When you go to kiss her, she turns her head so that you kiss her cheek.
8.       Her friends and family act a bit different and uncomfortable around you because she has told them that she intends to leave you.
~ There’s more to the article, but I left it off.  If interested, go read it at the provided link.

This isn’t written from a Christian perspective, which is where I come from, but it makes some good points – and some bad ones. If both partners are still willing to talk and work together, then I don’t think the relationship is beyond repair. After all, something brought the couple together, and that’s just familiar ground that is too often overlooked. Back to the beginning, as in The Princess Bride.
The article correctly points out that sometimes (often, in my experience) the woman doesn’t want a discussion with a solution – she just wants you to care enough to listen. So listen to this, buddy. If there was a paycheck attached to listening, you’d do it. If your drill sergeant was talking and you didn’t want to run ten miles, you’d listen. If God was speaking to you, you’d listen. You know how. Shut your mouth and do it. Listen to the woman you love and respond to what she means. If you can take something she says more than one way, take it the way that is meant with respect and love, because (hopefully) that’s how she means it.
One of the responses to the copied article said that it was a myth that men are “not tuned into a women’s feelings; it’s just the way” they are. It isn’t a myth, but listen closely guys – it’s not the way it has to be.
In the business world we’re taught, and we understand, that perception is most of the problem. You may not be taking unfair gratuities from a supplier, but if others perceive that you are, then it doesn’t matter. We learn to avoid situations of bad perception. We learn a new way of behavior.
My point here is that you (men) might think you are loving your wife as much as you possibly can, wearing yourself out doing things for her to make her feel loved, but if she doesn’t perceive (feel) the love, then you’re not doing it right. Don’t go grumbling and complaining that I’m telling you to change. When your Daddy was teaching you to hammer nails he took the rock out of your hand and gave you a hammer, then showed you how to use it so it wouldn’t smash your thumb. I’m doing the same thing. You think a rock will do the job. It won’t. Everything will get smashed up.
When Tarzan meets Jane, he’s a savage. He’s managed to advance beyond the group nature of his gorilla family and he’s known as King of the Jungle to all the local natives. He can read English, but not speak it. He has no idea how to treat a woman from England, the country of his birth. Eventually he becomes Lord Greystoke. I think it’s because he spends most of his time with Jane listening.
Men, we will always have a strong, wild, and courageous heart in our chests. We want to be the hero in our married story. We would die for our families, for our wives, for our duty. 
John Carter of Mars, Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkis
Learn how to talk. Learn how to listen. Learn how to respond. And the hero in the story could be you, as it should be. You, and your heroine.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mom’s Home Cooking

Not Mom. Not Grandma, either.


My Mom was not a great cook. She loved to cook and she tried. Don’t confuse cooking with canning. My Mom was great at canning foods. Mom created quarts of green beans, tomato sauce, pears, peaches, pickles, apple sauce and various jams and jellies from fresh produce. For most of our young lives our pantry was overflowing with home-canned quart jars.
Mom made these just fine.

My brothers and I thought she made good spaghetti. Since she often used fresh or home-canned tomatoes, I’m sure the flavor was outstanding, and I love good tomato sauce to this day. We never realized that most people have thick spaghetti sauce with visible meat in it. Mom's was more like tomato soup with some spices and a little hamburger waved over it for atmosphere. I still think that's what real spaghetti is like, regardless of what the Italian restaurants serve.
She made a great pot roast. I guess anyone can make a good roast, but it was her specialty. Whenever we had company that's what she served. Actually, we all loved how she cooked the vegetables in with the roast. Makes me hungry thinking of it, and I just ate dinner.
Mom also cooked a great ham, but I learned the secret to that when I was older and watched her prepare the ham. She used a can of beer in the pot with the ham itself. She said it pulled the salt out of the meat and made the ham more tender. I don’t know if that’s true, but her ham was pretty good. And for the record, I don’t like beer.
Mom made a good dish of Hawaiian Beans. That’s a family recipe and we loved it. Grandma Jen taught her how to make Hawaiian Beans. I don’t think they had anything to do with Hawaii – it was just the pineapple.
Hawaiian Beans added to my cookbook.
Mom also made killer Fudge. When we grew older and learned that fudge is often creamy in texture, I think we were all surprised. I still like Mom’s fudge better, with its sharp sugar crystals that melt in your mouth. We thought that secret was lost, but my sister-in-law rediscovered Mom’s fudge a few years ago. You’d have thought we re-learned the art of Damascus Steel, except this is better.
(Hey, Sis, I’m still waiting for a box of Mom’s fudge, by the way!)
We didn’t have a clue what cheesecake was. The first time I had cheesecake as an adult I thought someone was joking with me. My Mom’s recipe was Cherry Cheesecake, another recipe she got from Grandma Jen. It consisted of whipped cream cheese on a graham cracker crust – no easy task spreading it out though. The secret ingredient was the Dream Whip™ package you put into the cream cheese. A liberal covering of canned cherries completed the family cheesecake. Cook a cheesecake? I think not.
(I make a great cheesecake now, and I do bake it. It’s just not the same, though.)
Looks just like mine. Almost.
Mom’s bread pudding was the best, when she made it. We didn’t get it often, though. I’ve had bread pudding since, and I liked Mom’s better. That secret is gone now.
Hamburgers? Well, Mom made great hamburgers, but they were mostly oatmeal or bread crumbs. The same thing for her meatloaf, a dish my brother won’t eat even today. Although meatloaf with real meat is as close to Mom’s meatloaf as a chocolate fountain is to a water fountain. They just aren’t the same. I don’t miss Mom’s meatloaf at all.
Mom almost always burned toast. I mean really burned it. She spent more time scraping the black off than she did toasting the bread.
She loved to bake, or at least it seemed that way. Almost my entire life while growing up Mom was baking something for someone, not usually us. You have to understand that it wasn’t completely baked unless it was brown on the outside. Not tan. Not pale. Brown. Sometimes dark brown. There was a fine line between done and burned, fortunately for me and my three younger brothers. The correctly baked items went to the school or the church, but we got to eat the burned ones. I have to confess that the slight tang of the bottom of a burned cupcake or cookie is more than acceptable to me; it takes me back to my childhood days. If you want to see me and all my brothers smile the same happy six-year-old smile at the same time, feed us slightly burned chocolate chip cookies. If they are too burned, well, we can scrape the black off before we eat them. We got good at that.
Mom did like to try new recipes. There’s the Pizza Fish Story – that deserves its own post and is a family classic story. Now that Mom is gone I don’t mind telling it. I didn't tell the story in front of her because it made her sad.
When we were younger, and had first moved to North Carolina (which would put me between eighth and ninth grade) my Mom decided to make us true southern cooking. Why she decided this remains a mystery to me, as do so many things related to my Mom's cooking.
I remember the grits. I don't know what else she served, but four boys are not hard to please. Except for these grits. I don't know where she got them, and I don't know where she learned to cook them, but I do recall that big scoop of white, steaming grits dropped on my paper plate. <UPDATE: My brother wrote a funny bit about the grits, too.>
We didn't have a house yet, so we were camped on the shore and living in our pop-up camper. Chiggers were our constant companions. Maybe they weren't really chiggers. I do remember that someone else camped there called the little biters "no-see-ums" and that pretty much described them. Except when we were in the ocean water or the salt-pond at the campgrounds, we itched all the time.

But the grits. Oh my. We were all willing. We were game. Every one of my brothers tried at least a bite of the grits, and Tim probably had two bites. But when Mom turned her back we each dumped our grits in the dog's bowl. She was begging for food anyway.
The dog didn't eat any of the grits. Traitor. Mom was upset with us, and chewed  us out, and we probably went a little hungry that night. But she never made grits again, at least to my knowledge.
I haven't had grits since. But, you know, if Mom was here to cook them for me I might try them again. One more time. Just for Mom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Four Qualities of a Classy Pirate

Talk Like a Pirate Day
Today is "Talk Like a Pirate" day. I thought about writing this entire post in pseudo-pirate speech, but I'd probably get a sore throat sounding the words out. This was started in 1995 by a couple bored guys. Now it looks like they make a living out of it. That sounds a bit like piracy. 
They have their own website: http://www.talklikeapirate.com/
World of Warcraft even commemorates the day with activities in Booty Bay and Pirate quests. (Sometimes I really miss WoW!)
 
My brother and I have a similar plan as these Pirates, but it isn't nearly as cool. Well, maybe it is. More on that in the future.

Everyone likes stories of pirates. I don’t know any pirates.
Wait. I probably do.
Not that I’ll hear the slow tap-tap of a wooden leg on my living room floor in the middle of the night as some beached scalawag tracks me home to finish me off. If someone comes for me and they have a hook for a hand, well, I have a ball bat for that. Actually, I have a wooden sword handy downstairs and a bevy of swords upstairs, but I didn’t think anyone would believe that.
Jean Lafitte
Anyone spending time on the Gulf Coast knows some of the stories of Jean Lafitte, known as the Gentleman Pirate. A privateer and soldier under General Jackson, Lafitte and his brother Pierre used Galveston as a home for years before finally leaving in the early 1820s. Rumors of treasure buried on Galveston Island always make for interesting stories. Personally, if I were Jean Lafitte I’d take it all with me when I left. He wasn’t in a rush to leave.
Lafitte
But if you study his life a little, some good pirate lessons emerge.
Find the person in charge and work for them, but not as an employee. Jean worked as a privateer, gathering bounties on ships he captured. The treasure? He ran a warehouse to handle that in a more respectable manner. “Will work for tips” was probably a good sign for him. The tips were pretty good.
When you no longer enjoy your job, move along, but keep doing what you’re good at. Jean Lafitte was a smuggler and a trader and a pirate. You can see where those skills all work together. He was successful enough that he left Galveston voluntarily and at a leisurely pace rather than be hung for piracy. He did burn all his buildings when he left. Maybe another lesson is to clean up after yourself.
Be honest. At one point Jean Lafitte was ready to set sail, but his crew thought he had papers and was working as a privateer. Jean told them they’d be sailing as pirates and a lot of his people left him.
Be generous. He gave his largest ship to the men who decided to leave his employ. He wasn’t stupid, though. During the night his loyal men boarded the boat and disabled the mast and rudder so that the disloyal couldn’t immediately follow.
Truly, these are qualities that apply even if you’re not a pirate. Avoid indentured service, do what you enjoy and be good at it, be honest and be generous.
There are still pirates out there, though. I might even know some, but they wouldn’t admit it. A year ago I discovered a company that had a Pirate’s Amnesty for people who illegally downloaded and used their software. Here was the original concept: http://machinarium.net/forum/index.php?topic=1115.0

Because of the amnesty, I discovered their software and I really like it. After buying one of them, I got an email about a "bundle" promotion they were doing. They set up their website with a bundle of software for which you could pay anything you wanted. Some people paid only a dollar for the bundle. Others paid considerably more. I think it was a brilliant plan, and I hope it worked.
I really don’t want to be a pirate. Never have. I even paid for my original download of PKZIP, back in the day.
ARGGH.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two Good Lessons From Two Good Movies

I should have been a movie star. Not a leading-man kind of movie star; I'm not that charismatic (or attractive). God didn't grant me the good looks of Cary Grant and the sense of humor of Ernest Borgnine - He intentionally got them backwards.
Smile, for goodness sake!
Like looking in the mirror.
I love watching movies. Science Fiction is my favorite category, fantasy a close second, but I like drama and action and even, occasionally, horror. I'm not into the blood-spurting, limb-hacking horror movies; I prefer the ones like Hitchcock did, clever and daunting. I am especially well-pleased when I don't correctly figure out the ending beforehand.
And, sadly, I have his profile!
Many movies taught me lessons. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest convinced me that I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy, even if I don't drink. Rocky movies reinforce that the amazing thing about the dancing bear is not that he dances so gracefully, but that he dances at all. One of my favorite series of all time, Firefly, reminds me that when engaging in a battle of wits, be sure you're armed (or at least have a gun).
Replaced Enterprise as my favorite spaceship
But years ago two lessons surfaced in the movies that I wrote down on my calendar at work and carried with me through the years.
In Trading Places, as the main character faces unknown trials, the butler turns to him and says "Just be yourself, sir. Whatever happens, they can't take that away from you." Often in life that is the very best of advice. In my first divorce I lost all my possessions, moved into an apartment and was down to six hundred dollars in the bank. I gave that away to Covenant House, a charity organization. I still had my job, but I wanted to give that up as well. My ex had my son, lived an hour away on the other side of town and life just didn't look good. But I had to remain true to myself, and that meant loyalty to my son, whether I could see him frequently or not. A decade later I was faced with another, even more disastrous divorce. Of all the people that I grew to love in this state, only one couple befriended me, and knew that I was who I said I was. I couldn't be anyone but myself, regardless of what people said.
In the 1983 movie Flashdance Nick tells Alex "Don't you understand? When you give up your dreams, you die." Dreams die easily, strangled by the daily pressures and demands of life, yet life is supposed to be about achieving dreams. It is an odd paradox. We want to go after our dreams, but life seems to get in the way. If you give up your dreams, then you are simply waiting to die. A dead man walking. What kind of life is that?  
The trick seems to be to successfully combine the two lessons. Your dreams have to match who you are. Otherwise you might get to the top of the ladder of success and find out it leans on the wrong building. 
Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Andes, Truck Driving and Dallas

There was a new candy in my coworker’s candy cache today: Andes™ mints. I’m not a big chocolate fan (except dark chocolate), but the smooth, creamy taste of chocolate, combined with the tingling mint flavor is a big hit with me. As I ate it, my mind traveled back in time to when I first encountered these delectable treats.
A Mint and Earl Grey. Oh my.
During my first year at Central Michigan University (my second year of college, the Fall of 1976 and Spring of 1977) I lived in Herrig Hall, on the third floor. At the time it was a foreign language floor, which didn’t really mean anything except that most of the students were taking a foreign language and we had a few foreign exchange students on the floor. I took German and was in a “German” room with four other guys. We crowded into two bedrooms and had a central study area and our own bathroom. We were a mess.
Saxe-Herrig Hall, CMU
One of my roommates was entirely forgettable, one faded into time and Nick remains a friend, though we don’t talk often. Then there was Dallas Wayne Stevenson.
Dallas wore wire-rim glasses and had a scraggly beard. To be fair, at that age all the guys had scraggly beards. Lean and fit, Dallas often wore his karate gi around the dorm room. His gi was pink, a casualty of a load of white laundry with one red sock. Dallas said his last karate match was against a guy who laughed at his pink gi. Karate is supposed to be no contact. That particular day it wasn’t. He taught me a little karate. His style was Kong Soo Do (I had to go look it up). We quit learning when he showed me a really nice kick – and knocked me into our dorm door.
Dallas explained it didn’t matter if someone was an expert, you could still learn from them. A green belt in Karate could teach someone up to the level of green belt. I never forgot that. A man can have no greater impact on someone else than to change the way they see the world.
On our Co-ed floor, the room next to us was a French foreign exchange student. We guys were expecting some tall, leggy model, Christine was five foot nothing and thin with short black hair and glasses. I mention her specifically because of one particular language problem. During one conversation in the hallway somebody mentioned that a person in her class was being a “prick.” Christine was baffled by the word and Dallas pondered how to explain it. I think he was embarrassed but we often let him take the lead in these situations. Dallas finally explained that a “prick” was a derogatory term referring to male genitals. As we went down the stairs we passed a janitor mopping the stairway. Excited, Christine pointed at him and almost jumped with joy. “Look,” she said, “a prick! A male janitor.” Dallas just shook his head.
NOT our French exchange student
I don’t recall Dallas doing laundry in the dorm, but he sometimes went with me when I did mine. We’d freeze bottles of Vernors™ in the freezer until they were exactly the right temperature to form ice when opened. Occasionally the bottles broke. I don’t know if Dallas drank Vernors™ or not. He sometimes had a beer.
Dallas worked as a concrete truck driver during the summers, made good money and saved all of it to go to school. He didn’t worry too much about money, but he didn’t spend much either. I don’t know why he chose CMU, but I was glad he was there.
With almost perpetual good nature Dallas seemed to be a roommate, but was more of a presence. During the week he’d drop in when he wasn’t studying or going to class or doing something with his friend Rick. He’d sleep, change clothes, laugh, smile at our jokes, occasionally eat pizza with us (when we had it) and sometimes sat in the hallway while Nick read Vonnegut out loud.
Dallas majored in psychology and loved the subject. I remember him sitting up late at night, reading his books. He didn’t like writing the papers, but that’s because English grammar was not his strength.
One thing during the week that Dallas did diligently was write a letter. Almost every night the small lamp in the study spread a pool of yellow light as Dallas wrote. The letter got mailed the next day, to Temperance, Michigan.
On the weekend, Dallas disappeared. I don’t recall a single weekend when he was on-campus in the dorm with us. The reason was Peggy, and she was the one great love of his life.
Peggy’s picture was over the desk Dallas used. One picture probably hung on the wall near his bed. Dallas carried at least one photo of Peggy everywhere he went. Dallas made sure that Peggy was never far from his sight, and I’m positive she was never out of his mind.
Dallas arranged his schedule so Friday was light and he could leave to see Peggy. Sometimes he skipped Friday entirely and was gone to Temperance, MI. There was nothing temperate about his love for Peggy. We’d see him getting antsy to leave on Wednesday. We’d see him again late Sunday if we were up studying. Peggy always gave Dallas a package of Andes™ mints, which he rationed so they lasted the entire week. Rarely, oh so rarely, he’d share one. I loved Peggy for those mints.
I recall only one weekend that was an exception. Peggy came to Mount Pleasant. Dallas was kind enough to introduce us to her, and they disappeared. A beautiful girl, Peggy’s pictures didn’t do her justice.
Not long ago I reconnected with a mutual friend from that year in college and she told me that Dallas died in a car accident in 1986. She heard it on the radio at the time and cried so hard she had to stay home from work. Dallas was thirty years old. My eyes stung with tears when she told me.
An internet search shows that Multidisciplinary Approach to Obesity and Risk Factor Management by Dallas W. Stevenson and Michael Hemingway in “New Ideas in Therapy : Introduction to an Interdisciplinary Approach” was published in 1987.
Right up his alley, I think
The internet also shows his father, Dallas M. Stevenson, died in 2009. One of the surviving family members on the obituary page for the elder Dallas lists Peggy Stevenson, his daughter-in-law.
That year was my favorite year in college and one of the finest years of my life. Dallas Wayne Stevenson was certainly instrumental in making that year part of my treasured memories. Dallas was a good friend to all of us in Herrig Hall that year.
The last time I saw Dallas was over thirty years ago yet I can close my eyes and still see him in my mind, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses and a little crooked smile on his face. He must be thinking about Peggy.
And I think of Dallas, every time I eat an Andes™ mint.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Eleventh is the Tenth

The attack. I watched it on TV at work with everyone else.
Every post out there today will mention 9-11. Mine won't be any different, except I haven't anything to contribute to the topic. I have only personal reflections and stock photos from the internet.

I don't personally know anyone who died on September 11, 2001 due to the terrorist attack on the United States of America. We had engineers from my company on United Airlines Flight 93. I didn't know them.

I don't know the attackers, either. I am greatly saddened that a group of people from another country would hate Americans so much they attacked random people for revenge. And revenge isn't even the right word, is it? Revenge has a personal motive against a personal target. I can't really get my head around it.
Five days later, and the effect lasts forever

Years ago I was in a training class. The instructor went around the room and asked the same question "Who is your customer?" Everyone said "Quality Assurance," "The Control Board," etc, etc. I had more time to think and when he asked me I answered - a person's name. My customer is a person, not a group. It isn't random. In life, everything is personal.

So I can't really wrap my brain around the hatred toward Americans. Are we (as a group) proud and stubborn and sometimes obnoxious? Sure, in the group there are many people like that. I don't usually associate with them, though. They annoy me and I don't need that aggravation at my age. The people I know are usually kind and thoughtful and go out of their way to be helpful. Occasionally even one of my friends has a bad day and gets angry or stubborn or obnoxious. Here's a bulletin. I do too.

We (the United States) has a bad reputation overseas. I don't understand that either. My church sends aid to almost every foreign disaster that occurs. Even as a group the US donates more charity to other countries than anyone else. And we're hated for it?

But then I step back. We aren't alone. There are groups of people out there who dedicate their resources to terrorist attacks world-wide. On 9-11 the United States was the target.

And our world changed forever.

The few weeks after 9-11 brought out some great qualities in the people in this country. Flags waved, people helped people. There seemed to be more kindness in the world, at least that's the way it seemed to me. I saw the slogan "We will never forget!" on bumper stickers.

But we forgot, didn't we? We'd rather watch our country spiral into financial and emotional turmoil than band together as brothers.

Well, I haven't forgotten. I love this country, the principles which founded this country. I'm not sure I see these principles enacted any longer in our government, and that makes me sad. I'm ranting now, but it's a quiet and sad rant, aimed at no one in particular.

And buildings will not fall because of me.
Fascinating, but not a conspiracy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Software Eulogy - This is One Ugly Posting


Netbook (noun): a small, lightweight laptop computer used especially for Internet access and e-mail.


They are essentially dead now, but that’s apparently my opinion, since you can still buy them for a few hundred dollars. A bit over a year ago I found one on sale and I convinced myself I had to have it, with some thought of turning it into the home computer for the kitchen. I think every room in the house deserves some sort of computer, and manufacturers agree with me.
Tricky things, netbooks. They don’t have enough power to do much of anything, and they don’t have enough memory to compensate for the lack of power. They have minimal drives, and small hard drives.  Size isn’t everything, they say, but performance counts!
So why in the world did I even want a netbook? It’s the SOFTWARE, not the hardware!
The SOFTWARE
Now you may not realize it, but your computer comes from the store loaded with BLOATWARE, a term indicative of unnecessary software installed after the hardware is put together and before it gets to the consumer. Most buyers don’t even bother to try and clean it off, and your system performance suffers for it, on almost any computer platform.
My unformed plan involved maximizing the performance of the netbook, then installing a form of unix and making it a quiet little, multi-function email and surfing machine.
 WARNING: This is a long and technical post. You can simply skip to the END if desired.

ACER ASPIRE ONE NETBOOK: SOFTWARE CLEAN UP

Uninstall some of the software that is pre-installed on the machine.
Uninstall (Programs/Uninstall Programs):
EBay worldwide (100KB)
Uninstall Norton Online Backup
Uninstall Google toolbar
Uninstall eBay worldwide
McAfee (Needs to go completely. Downloaded and ran McAfee Removal Program, which cleans out a bunch of little programs also. Reboot needed.)
AcerGames from WildTangent? Leave it for now.

Control Panel/Network & Internet/System & Security
Check the Firewall – all settings seem okay by default.
(Note: Other Admin tools are available here, like defrag)

Taskbar & Start Menu Properties
Auto hide taskbar, if desired
Use small icons, if desired
(Just set up the taskbar as desired)

Remove Netflix shortcut from desktop
Put Skype on the toolbar, remove the shortcut from the desktop
Leave Acer Games and MSOffice 60 day trial

Checked an online Netflix movie. Ran really well, smooth and clear.

Check for Windows updates if it doesn’t do it automatically.

Install Skype (this netbook has a built-in microphone and camera).

Microsoft Security Essentials
Google and go to Microsoft Link
Download and install (just tell it to Run)
Once installed it will run and update itself
Do Scan
MSE found nothing on my machine. (It shouldn’t. The machine is barely out of the box, but you never know.)

Download and run Tune Up Utilities (free trial)
It identifies a number of potential problems.
Problems:
Unique Identification of computer is possible, when videos and music from a website are played by Windows Media Player, a unique ID is transmitted to the website Provider. Recommended solution to the problem: disable the sending of a unique player ID

Administrative sharing enacted, Administrative Sharing allows network access to all drives on your computer. Even though the shared drives are not visible in the network environment, they can still be accessed by simply entering <drive letter>$ (for example “C$”) into the address bar.
Recommended solution to the problem: Disable administrative sharing

Other problem fixes:
Disable network access to the registry
C: never checked for file system errors (check drive for errors using Tuneup Disk Doctor)

Hardware & Software
Windows Live Messenger
Turn off Windows Search
IE # simultaneous connections HTTP 1.0 to 8, 1.1 to 4

Restart


RUN (Windows key + R)
MSCONFIG/ Startup tab
Services
Disable Bluetooth Support Service
Check Hide all Microsoft Services
Startup List

Acer Assist Launcher
Unknown
launcher.exe
U
Acer Video Conference Manager
Acer Incorporated
AcerVCM.exe
N
Adobe Acrobat
Adobe Systems Inc
Reader_sl.exe
N
ALPS Pointing-Device Driver
Alps Electric Company
Apoint.exe
Y*
DefaultSettingEXE Application
Unknown
PLFSetI.exe

EgisTec In-Product Service
Egis Technology Inc
EgisUpdate.exe
N
Intel® Common User interface
Intel Corporation
hkcmd.exe
U
Intel® Common User interface
Intel Corporation
igfxpers.exe
U
Intel® Common User interface
Intel Corporation
igfxtray.exe
U
Launch Manager
Dritek System inc.
Lmanager.exe
U
Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Corporation
msseces.exe –hide -runkey
Y
MyWinLocker
Egis Technology Inc
mwlDaemon.exe
U
Power Management
Acer Incorporated
ePowerTray.exe
U
RAID Event Monitor
Intel
iaanotif.exe
U
Realtek HD Audio Manager
Realtek Semiconductor
RtHDVCpl.exe -s
N

Acer Assist Launcher: launcher.exe Acer Assist - program that provides information about new updates or notices from Acer
Acer video Converence Manager: Only Acer with Vista could come up with this baby. Not required if you don't video conference. Acer Video Conference Manager (VCM) is a application that is preinstalled on select Acer Aspire One models. Acer VCM enhances the Instant Messenger video call experience on the Acer netbook. Acer VCM works with Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, and Skype and provides additional value to the instant messenger by allowing for crisper calls in high resolution.  Additionally, the Acer VCM software extends the functionality of the instant messenger to allow for Photo Sharing, Document Sharing, and Screen Sharing. Note: Acer VCM will only function if both the caller and the reciever have Acer VCM installed and used.
Adobe Acrobat: Reader_sl.exe is part of Adobe Reader. "SpeedLauncher" loads part of Adobe Reader application, even if you are not using it, so, when the Adobe Reader is loaded it will be faster, however it will use resources like, memory, time processor, disc access, etc.
Not required for Adobe Reader to function properly. reader_sl.exe uses excessive system and memory resources with no corresponding benefit. Applications such as these should be disabled to improve overall system performance.
ALPS Pointing-Device Driver: Apoint.exe Touchpad software for laptop PC's. For instance it is found on the Panasonic and Sony Vaio machines and allows part of the touchpad to be used for document or Web-page scrolling. Required for proper functioning of the pointing software but not required for the laptop to work. Apoint.exe is a component of the drivers for the Alps Touchpad. This process should not be removed to ensure that your touchpad works properly. apoint.exe  is required by third-party software or hardware and should not disabled.
DefaultSettingEXE Application: PLFSetI.exe has been found with Acer's Laptop. Many users has been disable it noticing nothing unusual. plfseti.exe  uses excessive system and memory resources with no corresponding benefit. Applications such as these should be disabled to improve overall system performance.
EgisTec In-Product Service: EgisUpdate.exe Software updater for Biometrics Solutions and Data Security products from EgisTec Inc
Intel® Common User interface: hkcmd.exe is part of the drivers for boards with Intel 81x graphics chips. Allows you to define hotkey combinations to change video resolutions. This is not something that most users do often, and it can be done through Control Panel (Intel Graphics icon) or Desktop Properties pretty quickly. We recommend stopping this task to save resources and prevent accidental use of the hotkey feature. hkcmd.exe uses excessive system and memory resources with no corresponding benefit. Applications such as these should be disabled to improve overall system performance.
Intel® Common User interface: igfxpers.exe provides access to the control panel via a System Tray icon for graphics based upon the Intel chipsets (ie, i810). Also available via Start -> Settings -> Control Panel. igfxpers.exe uses excessive system and memory resources with no corresponding benefit. Applications such as these should be disabled to improve overall system performance.
Intel® Common User interface: igfxtray.exe - Provides a tray icon for quick access to features of some Intel graphics chips, such as the ability to change color depth and resolution. Since Windows itself offers easy access to most of this functionality, we recommend that you remove this program from startup using MSCONFIG. igfxtray.exe uses excessive system and memory resources with no corresponding benefit. Applications such as these should be disabled to improve overall system performance.
Launch Manager: LManager.exe Acer Launch Manager - manages configuration of the multimedia keys on their range of notebooks, netbooks and desktops. LManager.exe - Dritek multimedia keyboard application. If not running, customized keys will revert to default configuration. lmanager.exe  is required by third-party software or hardware and should not disabled.
Microsoft Security Essentials: msseces.exe System Tray access to a notifications from Microsoft Security Essentials which "provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software"
MyWinLocker: mwlDaemon.exe System Tray access to MyWinLocker encryption software from EgisTec Inc. If disabled, you can still encrypt and access encrypted files, with notifications being displayed in the System Tray - but you will have to access the "Yo-Safe" via the main console under Start → All Programs or via the desktop shortcut
Power Management: ePowerTray.exe Acer® PowerSmart Manager power management utility included on some models in the Aspire range of notebooks. Also appears as the Packard Bell PowerSave power management utility included on some of their notebook models - as Packard Bell is now owned by Acer
RAID Event Manager: Iaanotif.exe Part of Intel® Matrix Storage Manager (formally known as Intel® Application Accelerator and Intel® Application Accelerator RAID Edition). Used in conjunction with the event monitor service (IAANTMON - Iaantmon.exe) to display event notifications (such as RAID volume status changes, HDD I/O errors or HDD SMART event) via a System Tray icon when an event occurs. Via this icon you can then choose to launch the Intel Matrix Storage Console or ignore the current alert. iaanotif.exe is part of the Intel Application Accelerator. Used to notify of disk failure in a RAID array. Depending on how you configure it, RAID helps optimize the performance of the computer. It has facilities to partition and back up data. iaanotif.exe  is a user invoked program and a normal part of PC operations. No action required.
Realtek HD Audio Manager: RtHDVCpl.exe Realtek HD Audio Manager, installed with the Vista drivers for on-board Realtek HD audio codecs. Unless you have the default (but optional) System Tray icon enabled, the only purpose this entry serves is to detect and allow you to configure any devices plugged into the jacks - such as headphones and a microphone. With the System Tray icon enabled it will also inform you when devices are removed and give you access to the Sound Manager and other multimedia functions. The Sound Manager is also available via the Control Panel and this entry is therefore only required if you regularly change sound schemes.  RtHDVCpl.exe is a file contained in the Realtek driver packages for Windows Vista, Windows 2000, XP, and Winx64. rthdvcpl.exe  is a user invoked program and a normal part of PC operations. No action required.
Start up time is a bit less than 50 seconds from button to mouse available.
RUN (Windows key + R)
SERVICES.MSC

Acer ePower Service
Leave AUTO
Background Intelligent Transfer Service
Change to MANUAL (BITS, Windows Update,  Cryptographic Services, Event Log)
Base Filtering Engine
Leave AUTO (Base Filtering Engine, IKE and AuthIPsec Keying Modules, Internet Connection Sharing, IPSec Policy Agent, Routing and Remote Access, Windows Firewall)
COM+ Event System
Change to MANUAL – VERIFY
Cryptographic Services
Change to MANUAL (BITS, Windows Update,  Cryptographic Services, Event Log)
DCOM Service Process Launcher
Leave AUTO
Desktop Windows Manager Session Manager
DISABLE – loss of nice windows thingies
DHCP Client
Leave AUTO
Diagnostic Policy Service
Leave AUTO
Distributed Link Tracking Client
Change to MANUAL – VERIFY
DNS Client
DISABLE - VERIFY
Dritek WMI Service
Leave AUTO
GRegService
Leave AUTO **
Group Policy Client
Leave AUTO
IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules
Leave AUTO (Base Filtering Engine, IKE and AuthIPsec Keying Modules, Internet Connection Sharing, IPSec Policy Agent, Routing and Remote Access, Windows Firewall)
Intel® Matrix Storage Event Monitor
DISABLE (for RAID) - VERIFY
IP Helper
Leave AUTO
Microsoft Antimalware Service
Leave AUTO
Multimedia Class Scheduler
Leave AUTO
Network Location Awareness
Leave AUTO
Network Store Interface Service
Leave AUTO
Plug and Play
Leave AUTO
Power
Leave AUTO
Print Spooler
Leave AUTO
Raw Socket Service

Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Leave AUTO
RPC Endpoint Mapper
Leave AUTO
Security Accounts Manager
Leave AUTO
Security Center
Leave AUTO
Server
Leave AUTO
Shell Hardware Detection
Leave AUTO
Software Protection
Leave as is
Superfetch
DISABLE
System Event Notification Service
Leave AUTO
Task Scheduler
Leave AUTO
TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
Change to MANUAL – VERIFY
Themes
DISABLE – loss of nice windows thingies
User Profile Service
Leave AUTO
Windows Audio
Leave AUTO
Windows Audio Endpoint Builder
Leave AUTO
Windows Event Log
Change to MANUAL (BITS, Windows Update,  Cryptographic Services, Event Log)
Windows Firewall
Leave AUTO (Base Filtering Engine, IKE and AuthIPsec Keying Modules, Internet Connection Sharing, IPSec Policy Agent, Routing and Remote Access, Windows Firewall)
Windows Management Instrumentation
Leave AUTO
Windows Update
Change to MANUAL (BITS, Windows Update,  Cryptographic Services, Event Log)
WLAN AutoConfig
Leave AUTO
Workstation
Leave AUTO

Enable AutoLogon
RUN (Windows key + R)
control userpasswords2
Choose the account for automatic logon (click on it)
Unclick the box for “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer”
Confirm this by entering the password a couple times and you’re good to go

Start up time is STILL a bit less than 50 seconds from button to mouse available.

Upgrade RAM from a 1GB chip to a 2GB chip: for this model of Acer you can get a 2GB DDR2 PC2-5300 which works fine.
For this Acer Aspire One changing the memory chip is a straightforward task. When flipped over there is a small door held with a single small Phillips screw. Remove the screw and carefully pry the small door up. There are four indented clasps for this door, so be careful that you don’t break any of them. A thin bladed knife and some judicious prying should easily get it open. Remove the existing memory and insert this memory. Replace and screw the small door closed and you are finished.

Start up time is STILL a bit less than 50 seconds from button to mouse available.

END:
I optimized the machine, but couldn’t tell a difference in start-up times. I certainly wasn’t able to make it fast enough to interest me in using it like I use the iPad, which is instant-on.
Comment: Though I like my iPad, I am not totally enamored of it. I got the keyboard and tried to use it as a portable, but, honestly, the lack of a mouse hampered me. I make too many mistakes and am constantly using the mouse to go correct them. Using my finger (oh, so much more intuitive – please!) got pretty tiring after a while. <End of Minor Rant>
I ended up giving the computer away to someone who will put it to better use than I could.
Wait a minute, now there are flash hard drives…
I’m good for now, thanks. Sometimes I have to tap my head and shake odd thoughts out. It’s the software, you see.