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How to get Spotlight to quit if you are using Mac High Sierra.

September 19, 2018

I just tried to update Safari on my MacBook. I got a message saying that extensions for the application called Spotlight were still in use.

I checked force quit, and it wasn’t there.

I then tried google for tips. Most of which did not help – probably for earlier operating systems.

I am currently running High Sierra 10.13.6.

I finally found  instructions that worked to make Spotlight quit.

Go to system preferences, then Spotlight, then de-select all the things Spotlight searches. You will find all but one of them in the white window in the middle. Scroll down to see all of them.

The boxes, which you will need to click on, are in blue. If you de-select them (click on each one), they turn white.

There is one box below the main white window. Don’t forget to click on that little blue square as well.

That works.

I followed these instructions, went back to the App Store, and was able to install the update.

After that, I went back to Spotlight in system preferences, and re-selected all the spotlight functions.

Hope this helps.

An odd memory…

September 1, 2018

Going through some random memories. Happened upon a strange one. I don’t know why.

I am a very light drinker, and haven’t had any alcohol in about two weeks. But I’ve been wanting some unfiltered sake, so I bought some today, and less than an hour ago, had two small glasses. And I’m tired. So..

The year.. 1997? The place.. my hometown, which I still miss almost every day, a city called Modesto, in the Central Valley of California. (I’ve been living in Boise, Idaho, for many years – a wonderful city, but I still miss Modesto).

Picture this.. two dudes, both straight, but you would not know that by looking at them.

One is sitting down on the steps of a small clubhouse at a driving range, where people spend lots of money to whack little dimpled white balls far distances, using narrow clubs.

The guy on the steps is dressed normally for summer, except for his hat. He’s wearing shorts, a t-shirt, Converse Chucks, and a big, puffy blue top hat.

There is another guy. He has black hair, styled in a way that would make Robert Smith, the lead singer of The Cure, envious.

He’s pale, skinny, wearing black makeup, an old fashioned white blouse, and a stylish black skirt, which is about a hundred years out of style. And these are not his girlfriend’s clothes. He is squatting down to apply black lipstick to the guy sitting on the steps.

Why? The guy on the steps is not wearing enough black makeup. Duh.

Why the makeup and so forth? The guy applying the makeup is the lead singer of a local goth band called Healthy Morbidity. The guy on the steps is in a few moments to be playing bass guitar in the band, even though he really doesn’t know how to play bass guitar. Luckily, he just has to play a few notes per song, and look darkly weird. Or darkly silly.

After sufficient makeup is applied, the guys join two others, inside the tiny clubhouse, and they perform a few songs, for almost no one, except a few skater kids, who are confused, though, thankfully, not violent, and who are awaiting the next band.

This is the only gig the guy on the steps plays, because the singer, who is very easy to get along with, lives in the Bay Area most of the time, and is not around to keep peace with his bandmates.

The drummer is a friendly person, with a very slight case of cerebral palsy, in one of his hands. This, surprisingly, does not affect his playing.

The keyboard player is a total jerk, to put it mildly, and he is the reason the one-time bass player does not continue to perform with the band.

I was the guy on the steps.

No big story here, just an odd memory. Haven’t thought about that moment in years. A strange experience. Especially the part with the guy in drag putting lipstick and other makeup on my face.

This is a fond memory. I smile and chuckle when I think about it.

The ’90’s.. interesting times.

What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?

August 25, 2018

I have answered over 100 questions on Quora.com this year.. covering a wide variety of subjects. This is a pretty good hobby, and I like to help.

Here’s my answer to “What is the hardest part about being an actor/actress in Hollywood?”

My answers tend to be lengthy, but I like to be thorough.

There are so many possible and very good answers to this question that it is difficult to single out one answer, or even a few.

Also, it would help if you could specify A-list actor, B-movie actor, or aspiring actor (I’m using the word “actor” because sometimes it is non-gender specific – I’ve heard women refer to themselves as “actors.”)

I think perhaps the biggest problem with being an A-lister is dealing with the utter insanity of fame. Neurosis, failed marriages, drug addiction, suicide. So many actors cannot cope with the fame.

I think the legends with the longest careers were probably more stable than most others who try to get into this field, and learned, over time, and with practice and patience, to deal with the fame. I’m thinking of such people as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and Hugh Jackman seem quite level-headed as well, compared to others.

There have been casualties.. such as Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who have not been so fortunate.

Another difficulty of A-listers is making good choices, and weathering flops. The longer and more successful a career, the more forgiving critics and fans are about flops. (This is true for directors, as well as actors). It’s tough to have flops early on or even midway through a career.

Some people just have a knack for picking films that will likely do well at the box office, and/or please the critics, whether these movies are blockbusters or smaller films. Scarlett Johansson is a master of this. Look at her filmography. I’ve seen her in a LOT of movies (she’s one of my favorites) but not just because she’s starring in them. So many of the films she’s starred in since she was a kid have been either great, or, in my opinion, better than average.

Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence also have a better than average track record, I think. (Watch “American Hustle” to see excellent performances by those three, and Amy Adams – definitely a film for adults, though).

TV (not HBO, but network TV) actors, and B-movie actors, if they have come to accept what they are, and their place in Hollywood, might have good lives, and make a decent to rather good living. But it’s the minor leagues. So many aspire to fame and fortune, and never get there.

Aspiring actors.. so many difficulties. Here are three of the worst that I can think of: 1. an astonishingly immense amount of competition. Thousands upon thousands of people, especially young people, in Hollywood, working menial jobs, and hoping to land work as an actor.

Think of the Penny character from “The Big Bang Theory.” (The actress who plays her, Kaley Cuoco, is an extreme rarity, a success story). Penny is a waitress, for years, who thinks she has talent, but doesn’t (I didn’t watch all the seasons of this show, so I don’t know if Penny ever lands a role – just using this character as one example). So.. the immense competition..that’s one huge obstacle.

2. Delusional thinking. Ever watch those early auditions for American Idol? Tens of thousands of people line up at these auditions, and most of them don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of even getting on the show, much less winning. They think they can sing, and sing well, but they can’t.

Aspiring actors also have a tremendous about of delusional thinking.

There’s a character in one of my favorite films, “Wish I Was Here,” in which Zach Braff plays a man in his 30’s who has a wife (who has a serious job that she hates), and two kids to support, but he keeps chasing his dream. Mush to the consternation of his wife, and his father.

Unfortunately, delusional thinking is massively encouraged in our society. Each speech by a celebrity who has ever won an award.. “Follow your dreams! If I could do it, you can do it too!!” Well, for most people, that is total bullshit.

Delusional thinking is a SEVERE problem.

3. A problem that is especially insidious.. Hollywood is filled with very sick and manipulative people who try all sorts of schemes to take advantage of starstruck young people. Bad contracts, charging huge amounts of money for services that turn out to be non-existent, and luring people into the porn business. These people are the destroyers of souls and dreams, and there are a LOT of them out there.

So, yes, lots of problems and pitfalls. I’ve tried to pick the worst ones to write about.

A Visit to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail.

August 11, 2018

Not much of a museum, but rather a roadside attraction and historical site, Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail is located in the pleasant high desert and agricultural region of Southwest Idaho, about an hour’s drive from Boise, along the Snake River. It is located aways outside the small town of Melba, on highway 45, just north of where 45 joins highway 78, right before the bridge over the river.

In the past, ferry boats traveled along the winding Snake River, which flows through Idaho, and other states as well.

The ferry depot is called Walter’s Ferry. According to a small sign, a woman named Cleo R. Swayne is the name of the owner of this rather interesting, peculiar place.

Here is the review of Cleo’s Ferry Museum that I posted on Google Reviews. I am a google local guide – unpaid, of course – I write reviews of lots of places.

I’ll include photos of the place at the bottom of this post.

Here’s my review..

This is a VERY strange place, and quite heavily Christian.

You won’t find it unless you stop at Dan’s Ferry Service. Dan’s is a gas station and pleasant convenience store. If you pull into the parking lot at Dan’s (I hope you go in and buy something. The people there are friendly – great beer selection too), look to your right and you will see a narrow, paved road with a small sign directing you to Cleo’s. Turn down that little road.

You’ll see some interesting old buildings that were part of the ferry station (there was a time when ferry boats traveled the Snake River, and the ferry station at Cleo’s is called Walter’s Ferry), a home where the owners and caretakers live, and a dirt lot for parking. There are also two donkeys back there, in a little area that looks too small for them. I don’t know if the donkeys are friendly, and therefore, I don’t advise trying to pet them. I didn’t.

No fee to visit, but there is a locked donation box. Please put money in it. The caretakers do a good job keeping up the place, and don’t charge anything, so please be nice to them by leaving a donation.

The walking path is mostly paved, but not entirely. You will see massive collections of lawn ornaments, a large area featuring many life-size statues of people in a parade (this was impressive), some odd little buildings, and a few graves.

Not a cemetery though, like another reviewer wrote. I like walking through old cemeteries. I”m not the ghost-hunter type – I like the artistry of the headstones and the history of such places. (Want to see a very interesting old cemetery? Go to the one just outside Idaho City).

But there’s no cemetery at Cleo’s to walk through, and if you are not looking, you might miss the graves.

I liked the themed collections of lawn ornaments, the statues, the old buildings. And, even though I’m not a religious person, I did like the little garden of prayer – I think that is what it was called.

There’s a little chain link fence gate (close the gate behind you). You’ll see a shaded area, with some statues and a small pond. Good place to sit and rest, especially if you visit Cleo’s on a warm day, like I did. I didn’t mind that little area being Christian. Nice, actually.

I did NOT like how every few feet I walked, I saw a little sign with a positive affirmation or Christian message.

I did not visit Cleo’s Ferry Museum to read a self-help book, nor the Bible.

The little signs distract the eye, and I kept finding myself reading the signs instead of looking closely at the exhibits.

One cool thing to do is follow a trail up the hillside. After you walk through the dirt trail forested area, you’ll come back to black top. Instead of turning, walk the dirt trail up the hill. There are some benches up there. Sit awhile, and enjoy the view.

I’d suggest retracing your steps down the hill. It seemed there was a trail going off toward the entrance, but the trail I was on just faded away, and I ended up walking through the brush downhill. Good thing I was wearing jeans.

This is the first roadside attraction I’ve ever visited. I went to this place alone, and there were no other people on the entire trail with me. I felt a bit creeped out at times.

If you go with family or friends, you will probably feel just fine.

This place is definitely family friendly, except if you have small, unruly children. If your youngsters are very well-behaved, they’ll do fine, but if they are little monsters, they will probably want to run around and play with the lawn ornaments and statues.

One last thing – I was disappointed there was no guide, and that the old buildings were locked. I would have liked to have seen inside. On the Cleo’s facebook page, I noticed that occasionally the people who run the place do open the buildings and are around. But not usually.

This place is worth visiting, but it would be a more enjoyable experience if all the little signs were taken down, if it were a mostly non-sectarian place, and if we could see inside the buildings and learn more about them and the ferry depot.

 

Cleo's Ferry Museum

Cleo's Ferry Museum, Tom Meninga

Cleo's Ferry Museum

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cleo's ferry museum

hillside, cleo's ferry museum

All photos ©Tom Meninga, 2018. 

 

 

 

A possible link between music business elites and corporations that run private prisons? You decide.

August 11, 2018

I’m not generally one to indulge in conspiracy theories, but I read one last night that actually seems plausible. Or parts of it seem plausible.. or maybe it is total B.S… but anyway.. it is interesting..

This theory is about a possible connection between music business elites and private, corporate prisons.

Before I get to the theory, some information about corporate prisons..

What is a private, sometimes referred to as corporate prison?

It is a prison run by a company, a large corporation, paid for by our tax dollars. Government outsourcing to the private sector something that should never be outsourced.

Why is this bad?

Corporations have two main objectives: 1. To increase business (or, at least, stay in business) and 2. to make money for the people who own and work for the corporation, and, if the company is publicly traded, to make money for the shareholders.

Private prisons make money by offering less training to their guards, and by paying them less money and offering less benefits than government correctional officers receive. This of course leads to more frustration among the guards, and a much less safe prison environment.

Privately run prisons tend to be more dangerous, sometimes much more dangerous, for both inmates and staff, than prisons run by either state governments or the federal government.

Even worse, the most effective way for private prisons to make money is to house as many inmates as possible.

Yes, people are actually making money off of those who have been put in prison.

As you might imagine, “tough on crime” laws are particularly popular with shareholders of corporations and associated others who are involved in the incarceration business.

The more inmates, the more money.

Shocking, and terribly immoral, in my opinion.

Here in Idaho, we have a prison overcrowding problem. After some scandals, private prisons were banned in this state, as far as I know.

But, because of overcrowding, some Idahoans doing time have been sent to private prisons.. in Texas. I heard about this on a local radio program two weeks ago.

Ok then.. now on to the conspiracy. I found it while researching lyrics to a very strange rap – full of conspiracy theories.

I’m not generally into rap, but I heard this one while I was watching the film, “Moonlight,” which won best picture last year. I looked up the rap, and was amazed and unnerved by what I heard.

It is called, “Cell Therapy,” and is by the Southern rap group, Goodie Mob.

I did not find any evidence of one of the main conspiracies mentioned in the rap, but while searching online, I found another conspiracy theory.

This one was written anonymously, and posted to the website, hiphopisread.com. The letter landed in the website administrator’s inbox, in April of 2012.

Here it is.. after reading, let me know what you think. Could this actually have happened? Did it happen?

“The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation”

Hello,

After more than 20 years, I’ve finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I’ve simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren’t ready for.

Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.

The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn’t seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn’t find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.

Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn’t the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.

A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I’d like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn’t talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn’t remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I’d probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.

As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.

I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90’s, having the internet as a resource which wasn’t at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.

Thank you.

Plausible?

I think..

Yes.

Always Look For Pedestrians.

July 20, 2018

Always look for pedestrians. Always.

About 15 minutes ago, I almost killed two people.

I was not looking for pedestrians.

I was driving down 5 Mile Rd., and had pulled into the left turn lane, ready to turn onto Edna St., where I live.

I looked at the head lights of an oncoming car in the opposite lane. I figured I could make the turn safely, but I’d have to hit the gas, and do it fast.

I didn’t feel comfortable about doing that.

I am a very cautious, slow driver by nature.

It was only then, after deciding not to make the quick turn, that I saw an older woman and a little boy walking slowly down 5 Mile, in the Edna crosswalk.

They would have been in the EXACT spot where I would have turned, had I turned, and I would have been making a fast turn.

My mind made the unconscious assumption that no one would be walking across the crosswalk at 10:30 pm.

But other parts of my mind did other things.

There was the thought – better not make the turn – just wait until the car passes.

And something stranger. A few blocks before I got to the turn lane, the phrase, “a freak occurrence” came to my mind. I did not know why.

There must be good angels out there.. or.. something.

Right now, if I’d made a different choice, one or more of those two people would likely be dead, and I’d soon find myself in handcuffs, and rightfully charged with manslaughter.

Had I been drinking? No. Not impaired at all.

But that would not have mattered at all.

So.. I am extremely grateful to.. whoever.. that I was somehow able to make the right decision..

Even though I did not look for pedestrians.

Always look for pedestrians. Always.

A brief thought on writing..

June 28, 2018

A brief thought on writing, from the newspaper comic, “Pearls Before Swine.” I don’t know how to scan the comic here, so I will just type in the text.

The first four panels are just words We don’t see the main characters, the anthropomorphic Rat, Pig, and Goat.

“Today I will waste seven hours. Then I will be productive for just one hour.”

“Then I’ll hate everything I did.”

“Then I’ll think I’m a joke.”

“Then I will take out my frustration out on the person closest to me.”

In the last panel, we see the three characters. Rat, who wrote the first four panels, says, “How to be a writer, chapter one.”

Goat says, “How appealing.”

And Pig says, “When does the drinking start?”

I have a very difficult time writing nonfiction – these posts here on facebook and on my blog.

I have read about fiction authors. They struggle a lot too.. a lot more than I do, probably.

I’m guessing many writers, of either fiction or nonfiction will appreciate the cartoon. Sorry I could not scan it in here.