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Monday, June 24, 2013
Remembering Dial-Up
       Uncle Jack would like to start by thanking everybody who took the time to wish him a happy birthday a couple of days ago. It was very pleasing to find those nice letters in his inbox instead of the usual annoying invitations to spend his money in one way or another. He thanks you all and he hopes he will still be around a year hence so we can do it all over again.
       He really doesn't have much to write about except that it is exceedingly hot in Bawlmer and he is counting the days until July 7 when he and Mrs. U.J. will point the Mini toward Nags Head again where they will spend a week with his only begotten son Eric and family from Los Angeles. The traffic on the Bypass might make them think they never left home.
       Uncle Jack has been spending a lot of time lately talking to Charter and Comcast techies about assorted problems with his wireless and TV connections which reminded him of the old days before cable. He has to admit that his present day troubles with internet and TV technology really are inconsequential compared to his struggles with dial-up internet and rabbit-ears TV. He was so happy when the cable reached his house in South Nags Head that he wrote a piece about it which has exhumed from the archives, to wit:

                                   The Joy of Cable

Dear Uncle Jack,
I am a newcomer to the Outer Banks, having moved here with my husband who recently retired after 30 years of service with Cleveland Gear and Screw in Cleveland, Ohio. For the last 29 years he was at Cleveland Gear and Screw all he ever talked about was retiring and moving to the Outer Banks where he could fish and drink beer and drive his 4WD Toyota up and down the beach all day.
Well he got what he wanted, Uncle Jack, and he is happy as a clam but I have to tell you it has not been easy for a person of culture and refinement such as myself to leave a place like Cleveland which is generally acknowledged to be one of the high water marks of western civilization whether you include Shaker Heights or not.
There are many reasons why sensitive travel agents everywhere refer to Cleveland as "Athens-on-the-Cuyahoga", one of them being the Cleveland Symphony which is very highly regarded in the loftiest musical circles, and another is the Metropolitan Opera which comes to Cleveland on the Greyhound every spring, right after the ice goes out of Lake Erie.
Also if you are lucky enough to live in Cleveland you can regularly attend one of several theaters where they employ live actors and actresses to interpret the works of famous playwrights both living and dead each weekend.
Anyway I could go on and on about all the uplifting things a person can do in Cleveland but you probably get my drift by now. My problem is how to satisfy my deepseated need for cultural stimulation now that I am stuck on this desolate sandspit in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by philistines who think that standing in the sleet with a fishing pole in one hand and a can of Budweiser in the other is the loftiest activity to which humankind can aspire. Can you help me, Uncle Jack?
Alone in the Desert
Kill Devil Hills

Dear Alone,
To start with, Uncle Jack will tell you that you are not alone. Every week he gets similar letters from ladies of elegance and refinement such as yourself who are struggling to find fulfillment in a place which he would be the first to admit is somewhat deficient in the culture department even though the new Radio Shack has helped a lot.
He is pretty sure there are enough of you out there now to start a small symphony orchestra if you wanted to. In the meantime he hopes you are living in one of the populated parts of Kill Devil Hills where you can get hooked up to the TV cable because if you are he has good news for you.
What you need is Super Cable! Uncle Jack has been wired up to Super Cable for just over a week now and he does not mind telling you that it has changed his life for the better more than anything else that has happened to him since he discovered sour mash bourbon. And he is not saying this just because he could sit in his chair last week and switch back and forth between two NBA playoff games with his new Super Cable remote control gadget either.
He is saying it because he knows he could have switched over to the Fine Arts channel and watched some ballet dancers pirouetting if he wanted to, or over to the Health Channel where Regis Philbin was interviewing various health experts about how to prolong your life by eating salt-free pretzels washed down with sugar-free cola and things like that.
Or he could have watched one of the many uplifting and educational foreign movies they are always showing on Cinemax and the USA Channel such as "Emanuelle on Taboo Island" which critics have hailed as perhaps the finest travelogue since "Emanuelle in Hong Kong".
Anyway Uncle Jack is not kidding when he says he is really looking forward to the day when the NBA playoffs are over so he can start making better use of the rich cultural resources offered to him by Super Cable. He is willing to bet that if you do get Super Cable your husband will stay home more and keep you company, especially if you start him off with "Emanuelle on Taboo Island". He may even give up fishing.
Uncle Jack


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Uncle Jack's house in South Nags Head is fully booked through the first week in September but some later weeks are still available. Google Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage for more information about the house and availability.

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Uncle Jack at 83 and daughter Emily, the virus slayer.

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First Colony Inn arriving at its new location near the 16 milepost. One of the hundreds of pictures Uncle Jack hopes to post on Flickr if he can find the time.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:01 PM

Comments [3]

Sunday, June 16, 2013
The FBI virus----A Cautionary Tale
       Uncle Jack has just survived one of the worst experiences he has ever had on his computer. He would like to share the story with his readers with the hope that it will keep them from having to go through the same thing some day.
              One day last week he innocently clicked on an RSS feed story from the Atlantic Monthly, something he does almost every day, when suddenly his whole screen was filled with an ominous looking warning from the “FBI” that his computer had been seized and locked because a surveillance program had determined that he was part of a child pornography ring. He was warned not to try to unlock his computer which could only be cleared by sending a payment of $400 to the “FBI” via a money-transfer program whose name he has forgotten.
              Careful reading of the entire document with its mistakes in grammar, spelling, etc. revealed it to be a total fraud which could not possibly have emanated from the real FBI we have all come to know and love. Nevertheless it had rendered Uncle Jack’s computer totally inoperative and left him with a sick feeling at the thought of the time and expense that would be involved in having it restored (if possible) by a computer expert.
              Lucky for Uncle Jack his brilliant daughter, Emily, was visiting from California last week and she had some ideas about what could be done. Using her computer she downloaded an anti-virus program onto a flash-drive which she plugged into Uncle Jack’s during a brief moment when it was in “safe mode” and then ran a long and seemingly thorough scan for viruses. It worked! Uncle Jack’s desktop reappeared and all seemed normal again.
              For a few hours. Suddenly, without touching a key, the ominous warning popped up on his screen and his computer was immobilized once again. This time Emily googled “FBI virus” to see if help could be found on the internet, a search that revealed that this particular piece of malware had been around for about a year and was spreading rapidly and morphing into an even more dangerous form as time passed. Dozens of websites offered help, free and otherwise, and Emily picked one that sounded promising which involved running a second scan which identified and removed one last piece of malware that had eluded the first scan and it turned out to be the culprit.
       The moral of the story is don’t be a fool like Uncle Jack. When he got his new computer about a year ago he let his “trial” Norton anti-virus program lapse instead of renewing it, thinking he could save $40 by relying on the Windows 7 security program. That was a mistake he will not make again and he hopes that any reader out there who is not running a good anti-virus program will take his dreadful experience to heart and get one. He has since talked to a friend who was the victim of a similar piece of malware who spent $250 on efforts to clean it up before giving up and buying a new computer. But for the brilliance of his only begotten daughter he might have had to do the same.
       Readers in the Richmond area might want to keep an eye out for the current issue of Boomer magazine which is devoted largely to the Outer Banks. It contains an article by Uncle Jack and it's free so you have little to lose.

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Memorial Day in Sonag was lovely. This lifeguard kept a lonely vigil.

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Pranksters dragged this lifeguard stand into the surf in Sonag one night last week.

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A spirited bocce ball contest underway at the annual Little Italy festival last weekend in Baltimore.

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Mrs. U.J.'s daughter Colleen has a new pool. Baby sitting will be much more fun this summer.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:49 AM

Comments [5]

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After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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