The Atlanta Saga – Part 2

April 7

I was hoping to get out of the hotel by 7:45 with the idea I’d be at the Truman Library when they open. As it was, nature and technology threw up some roadblocks and I didn’t hit the road until a bit after 8.

Because I charge the phone all day while driving, I didn’t bother to plug it in overnight. When I got to the car, it was down to about 17%. When I fired up the car, I plugged both the phone and the iPod into the charger. The iPod told me it was charging, but the phone didn’t. The cigarette lighter port is a bit janky. Someone on Lotus Talk replaced the cigarette lighter with a dual USB charger. It looks like a simple mod that would mean I would no longer need to fiddle with the stock one, and I’d not have to worry about it not charging when I assume it is. So, naturally, I at first thought I just needed to “jiggle the handle”. But there was no joy.

By the time I arrived at the Truman Library, we were down to 8 or 9%. I grabbed the plug-in adapter and went inside looking for an electrical outlet. The guard pointed me to one in the corner near his station and I plugged in there. Still no joy. Now I was wondering if it was the phone or the cable. Everything worked fine yesterday. Why does it fail now? What have I done to anger the godz?

I often complain about the fragility of our technological times. This is a perfect case. I have very little battery in an unfamiliar city. What do I do with a dead battery? It’s a sort of range anxiety. Drive around randomly looking for a Verizon store? Sheesh.

The Truman Library

The Truman Library was the first of the presidential libraries. This is the second presidential library I’ve visited. Hoover’s was first. They’re very similar: a museum that covers the man’s entire life and is open to the public, and a library that is used by researchers that the public doesn’t get to see. And, naturally, there’s a gift shop as well. As with the Hoover library, Truman’s also includes the grave site.

I made my way through the place a bit more quickly than I anticipated. I’d allowed as much as three hours (cut a few minutes short by my late start) but was done in about half the time. I didn’t spend a lot of time reading about Truman’s history as I’ve read quite a bit about him already. Rather than reading all the material, I concentrated on viewing the various artifacts.

I think it’s a very nice museum. Anybody who doesn’t already know his story can learn all the important bits. There are quite a few videos to watch and a large number of text-heavy exhibits. There is quite a bit more in Truman’s museum than in Hoover’s. Here, there’s a reproduction Oval Office in the basement. Hoover didn’t have one.

The Cable

After enjoying the museum and the garden, I went back to the car and dug through my “bag of tricks”, a heavy-duty quart-sized ziplock bag full of cords and adapters. I sadly neglected to bring another phone cable, but I was pleasantly surprised that the cable for the GoPro Max fits. Plugged it in and it started to charge.

However, the GoPro cable is much too short for me to have the phone charging when it’s mounted on my dash. That’s just not going to work. I need a longer cable. I went to a Verizon store where I knew for sure I could get something that would work but also knew I’d spend two or three times what I’d pay at a Best Buy or equivalent. I am now the proud owner of a new 6’ cable that cost $25. The whole cable thing stressed me out more than it should have.

By now it was lunchtime, so I stopped and grabbed a sandwich for the road.

The Drive

I’ve gone on about the options Google gives us for navigation. For these cross-country trips, I always check the boxes for “No Tolls” and “No Highways”. “No Tolls” is pretty straightforward and unambiguous. “No Highways”, on the other hand, isn’t so simple. In Colorado and points west, it is my experience that “No Highways” is functionally equivalent to “No Interstates”, which is actually what I’m after. Google’s idea of “No Highways” isn’t very clear to me. It could mean that it avoids any multi-lane road with limited access, but I think it’s rather more restrictive than that.

In any event, knowing I’d be directed on roads often smaller than strictly necessary, I kept the “No Highways” option on and set out. I also knew that the drive time difference between highways and no highways would be significantly greater than it was yesterday. But I didn’t have far to go, so I wasn’t in any particular hurry. I’m much happier getting away from the big trucks and the traffic, getting off the beaten path, and getting (I think) a much better view of the countryside.

Using “No Highways” in Kansas still allowed me to use national highways (primarily US 36). On these roads, you pass through all the little towns between where you start and where you end. In Missouri and Arkansas, though, using “No Highways” tends to take you around all the little towns. Which also means you don’t drive past any gas stations.

I had a little “fun” trying to find a gas station. I pulled over and searched for gas stations, but none were on my route. The nearest, Google said, involved backtracking 17 miles. The best would be the one not far off my route 32 miles away. I was a bit surprised that there are no gas stations for 50 miles. Truly, these are the back roads.

About 10 miles later I spotted a Casey’s General Store a bit down a crossroad. Does Google not recognize Casey’s as being gas stations? I admit they’re not my first choice, as they don’t sell premium, but I figure low octane is better than no octane, so I filled up anyway. I’ll burn all the low-octane fuel off before lunch tomorrow.

The Geography

The first few miles of road after leaving Atchison follow the Missouri River. Signs along the road identify it as part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. On my Oregon trip a decade ago (!), I followed a significant portion of their travels. Today, it was just a few miles.

Once I got a short distance east of the river, my route was made up of an alphabet soup of backroads: Highway A, Highway H, Highway W, and so on. All of these letter routes were nice pavement (albeit so narrow they don’t have shoulders), 55 mph speed limits, and almost zero traffic.

Much of my route was on the western edge of a plateau. I’d traverse a few miles of flat agricultural land on an arrow-straight road, then drop off the plateau into a valley or ravine. In these ravines, the road becomes a Lotus road: twisting and turning, rising and falling. At times the ups and downs were like bunny hops on a roller coaster. I was tempted to add a little speed in these places, but there were far too many blind crests. There were a number of signs warning me to share the road with the horse-and-buggy set. I’d have hated to crest a hill with a steep descent only to find a buggy.

These bottom lands held other potential issues as well. Not actual issues now, but they probably were when I passed through Missouri a few years ago. These letter routes feature almost no cut and fill. That is, they’re pretty much at grade level. Grade level in the bottoms means “potentially flooded”. More than a dozen times I saw signs warning that the road may be impassable. These are permanent signs, not temporary ones that I’ve often seen when some side roads are actually flooded. In addition to the warning signs well in advance of the potential danger, they had a number of amber-colored signs that would show how deep the water is in the case that it’s actually flooded. All these signs could indicate depths of as much as 5 feet. I wonder how often the signs are totally submerged.

This up-and-down, on the plateau and in the bottoms, continued until nearly the Arkansas border, where the plateau seemed to end. Coincidentally, that’s when even these back roads started to see traffic. I was nearing Bentonville.

I’m not a farmer, and I’m unable to identify most of the crops I drive past, particularly this early in the season. Like any second grader, I can spot corn and wheat but anything else is a mystery to me.

A fair amount of land was devoted to livestock rather than crops. In Kansas, the cattle were all in the typical industrial feedlots, cattle shoulder to shoulder at the trough and manure piled ten or more feet high. Here in this part of Missouri, there are a lot of cattle, but they’re all grass-fed. Not nearly as many cattle per acre, but probably making for better beef.

I don’t know much about chicken farming. I’ve seen some documentaries about it, and how the three or four giant chicken companies have transformed the industry. I think I saw a few of these modern chicken farms. Each had between four and ten long, low buildings with ventilation fans on each end, and all the driveways and buildings festooned with “No Trespassing” signs.

Most of the roadside billboards in Kansas were selling Jesus and advocating against abortion. In Missouri, it’s Trump instead of Jesus and unborn babies. In this part of Missouri, you can’t go more than a few rural miles without seeing Trump flags. It seems no Trump supporter in these parts is satisfied with a single flag. It’s four or five or six at a time: “Trump 2020”, “Make America Great Again”, “Let’s Go Brandon”.

Everywhere I stopped, people were friendly and curious.

New Computer

A while back, my computer started giving me network errors when trying to access my local drive. This is not a good sign. Clearly, it was on the brink of disaster. So I bought a new computer. The old one lasted eight or nine years, and I hope its replacement will last at least as long. I truly hate upgrading computers. So many things go wrong; so many aggravations. So much swearing.

Last time, I spent the fifty bucks (or whatever amount it was) to buy software to make the migration easier. I think it worked pretty well, and I considered doing the same thing this time. I didn’t keep any notes on that prior process, but I have some vague memory of it doing some things I didn’t like. Not enough of a feeling to dissuade me, but enough that I spent some time looking at the actual scope of the migration problem.

The first thing I did was make an inventory of all the software I have installed on the old machine. First, I went through the Windows settings application for removing programs. I recognized pretty quickly that this was not a complete list, being that it lacked at least two programs I use fairly often. For several years, I’ve been using a program called Revo Uninstaller. I’ve found that it does a better job of uninstalling things than the native Windows program. Revo showed me a couple of things that the native app missed.

Given a good list of software, I faced the next issue. The old computer’s CD/DVD drive is broken, and the new computer doesn’t have an optical drive. Which will be a problem if I need to install software from a disk. (I later discovered later that the lack of any ability to read a disk isn’t the real problem when installing old software.)

Next, I checked my hard drives to see which programs I had saved the install files for. It has been my habit to keep these. Then, I went online to discover which programs I could download from the developers.

Given this information, I decided to do the migration manually. May God have mercy on my soul.

In the end, there were only three programs that gave me problems.

Least important of the three is a program I’ve been using to track my savings bonds. It is no longer available, the developers having moved the functionality to the web. I won’t go that route. I didn’t regularly track my bonds, but I think they’re all matured by now anyway, and I should cash them in and be done with it.

The next program in question is the one I’ve been using to make my videos. I can’t download it (short of buying the latest version), but I had the install files. However, when I ran the install program, it notified me that one of the files was corrupt. I recopied the file from the old computer and tried again, but no joy. This led me to searching the web for a replacement. I decided on Shotcut, a free open-source video editor. I’ve successfully made my first video with it, and I think I’ll be a happy user. But, even for the simple videos I make, I face a bit of a steep learning curve.


Finally, we get to Quicken. I’ve been using Quicken since 1994. I’ve upgraded several times over the years and am currently using Quicken 2015. Their business model has changed somewhat. They’ve switched to a subscription model. I’m not a big fan. For decades, I’ve been able to buy it, install it, and use it. I’d rather own than rent. Somehow, I don’t have the original install files. So I was a bad boy and found a copy of Quicken 2015 on a Russian BitTorrent site and downloaded it. I’m sure Intuit would claim I just stole something, even though I bought it way-back-when. So it goes.

I followed the instructions of the pirate version I downloaded and was off and running. Or, not so much “running” as “limping”. It got me to the point where I could register my copy with Intuit. After that, I got a message that, because Quicken 2015 is no longer supported, it wouldn’t update from the original release to the latest version (that I have on the old computer). And, of course, it wouldn’t let me run the version that I’d just installed.

Now that it was installed, I was hoping that it had finished doing whatever magic needed to be done with the registry. I copied the Quicken program folder from the old machine to the new and tried again. It fired up with a brand new (empty) database, which seemed like progress. After two or three tries to get it to open my database (with 26 years of data), I finally had success. This version of the program will “crash” the first time I fire it up each day, but it seems to be working just fine. It has been crashing on startup for quite a while now. I’m pretty sure it’s just trying to check for updates, and as it’s unsupported it just crashes. It only looks for updates once a day, so the second time I launch it, it works. I can find no setting that would allow me to stop it looking for updates.

One piece of software that I had no availability concerns was iTunes. I consider iTunes to be possibly the worst software I’ve ever had the misfortune to use. But I have an ancient iPod that serves me well, so I’m more or less chained to iTunes. This one should have given me no migration problems, as Apple kindly provides step-by-step instructions on the web. I followed these instructions precisely. It only took three tries to achieve success. I guess they just wanted to fuck with me: “You were expecting to see your music library here? Ha! Try again!”

One of the side-effects of downloading and installing the programs I use is that I get updated to the latest versions. Not everything updates itself constantly. I’m okay with this. Perhaps I should be paying better attention to those that don’t update themselves regularly. So far, I’ve only come across one update that has caused me any issues, which I resolved after a quick internet search.

I still have a few things to download and install, but I’m going to call this migration “done”.

I’m sure the family is happy that this process was fairly trouble-free. They expected to hear much more foul language.

The last thing I’ll whine about is this: Genae uses this computer, too. When I went to add her as a user, I learned that I can’t add users that Microsoft doesn’t approve of. That is, Microsoft won’t let me add a user to this computer, my computer, in my house, without their permission. I added her as a “family member”. There are two options for this: Organizer or Member. I will be the administrator of this computer, so I made her a “member”. She had to set up an account with Microsoft and had to provide her birthdate. Now, when I go into the users control panel, I see my wife listed as “child”. Given that Microsoft asked her age, they know she’s not a child. I really don’t like that I’m not in charge of who can use my computer. The best answer, it seems, is to remove her from my “family” and set her up as an “other user”.

With the new computer comes a new problem. I no longer have the excuse that my computer lacks the specs required to run various games, like Cities: Skylines or the latest racing sim. I will either have to devise a new excuse or succumb to one or more of these high-tech time wasters.