I will be teaching an adult education class called Introduction to Macintosh Computers in the Red Lodge High School computer lab starting later this month. It will be on Thursday nights from 7:00 to 9:00, beginning March 8 and running through April 12 — a total of six sessions. This will run concurrently with the Social Networking course I’m teaching there.
Macintosh computers include free software to manage your calendar, music, photos, contact lists, and email; and programs that let you create movies, browse the Web, chat with friends, and even create music. Attendees will learn the basics of these programs and the Mac itself. You don’t need to have a Mac to take the class: we’ll be in the computer lab at the high school, where there are enough computers for everybody.
WEEK 1: Toto, we’re not in Redmond anymore!
Macintosh computers don’t work like Windows machines (thank goodness!), but all computers fundamentally do the same things. In this first session, you’ll learn how to start up and shut down a Mac, where all of the files are, how to adjust basic settings, and how the Mac OS differs from Windows. We’ll take a look at some of the programs that are included with the computer and what they do, and then pop online and browse the Web from our Macs.
WEEK 2: Managing your life – setting up calendars, contacts, and email
These days, we don’t just use computers to … well … compute. We keep our lives on the computer. This class session will cover creating calendars and contact lists, and then using them for scheduling events, sending emails, and synchronizing to your phone. We’ll look at some of the differences between Apple’s philosophy and Google’s philosophy and how to work with both.
WEEK 3: Pictures! Loading pictures and using iPhoto
It’s hard to find a camera that uses film these days. Everything’s gone electronic. Luckily for us, Apple provides absolutely amazing photo management software for free with every Mac. In this class, you’ll learn how to load all of your pictures into iPhoto and how to work with them once they’re there, including organization, basic editing, printing, emailing, and uploading.
WEEK 4: Cue the music! How to load, manage, and even create music on a Mac
Apple revolutionized the music industry with iPods and the iTunes store. A lot of people, unfortunately, think that if you use iTunes, you have to buy all of your music from Apple. Not true! In this class, we’ll load and share music (legally) from a variety of sources, create playlists, create ringtones, and learn the tricks of synchronizing your music with iPods, phones, and other computers using the iCloud.
WEEK 5: Entertain me! Videos, podcasts, ebooks, audio books, movies, TV shows, and more
For more and more people, their computer is becoming their TV, and vice-versa. This week, we’ll take a look at how to connect your computer to a big-screen TV and use it for movies and TV shows, using both Netflix and Apple’s own store. We’ll take a short video in class, transfer it to the computer, do some simple editing, and play it on a TV. Finally, you’ll see where to get an amazing amount of free entertainment, including podcasts, ebooks, and audio books, and then see how to buy even more online.
WEEK 6: Using your Mac with other devices
Few of us carry our computers everywhere we go. Most of us, in fact, end up using more than one computer, along with a smart phone and a plethora of other electronic devices. We’ll spend week six learning how to share your files and pictures among your devices – even if some of those devices aren’t from Apple! We’ll share files with Windows computers, set up portable storage devices, and – here’s the most important part of the class – set up Time Machine, Apple’s backup system that keeps your important files safe.
I like to keep my classes very informal, very hands-on, and highly customized. Feel free to ask questions about your own Mac. To sign up for classes, contact Red Lodge High School at 406/446-1903. The cost is a paltry $15.00 for the entire six-week program. Deadline to sign up is February 17. See you there!
Would it really be a dream for a biographer to have thousands of pages of daily journal entries to work from? It certainly seems so. But when Don Hardy set out to write Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson, and the former Wyoming senator handed him the journals, it must have been overwhelming. Not the task of reading all that material — after spending 18 years as Simpson’s Press Secretary and Chief of Staff, that material must have been a fascinating romp down memory lane for Hardy — but the task of winnowing it down into a 488-page book.
Imagine the pressure. Simpson gave Hardy free reign to include anything he wanted, as long as it was true. Al Simpson was a highly influential senator and majority whip. He was involved in groundbreaking legislation. He chaired many committees, including Veterans’ Affairs, Immigration and Refugee Subcommittee of Judiciary; Nuclear Regulation; Social Security, and the Committee on Aging. He was there during the Iran-Contra scandal. He served under — and worked closely with — four presidents. Simpson’s father was a U.S. Senator as well. The volume of material available about Alan Simpson’s life is overwhelming.
And Don Hardy had to decide what details to include and what to leave out. In my humble opinion, Hardy did a yeoman’s job. Biographies are often one-sided documents, lauding or roasting the subject. Despite being very close to Simpson, Hardy presented the senator complete with all of his faults and foibles. He distilled all of the interviews, a 19-volume diary, and all of the documents from Simpson’s time in office into a story that held my attention. I really enjoyed reading it.
Audiences today have grown used to Dan Brown-style narrative crutches. If the plot isn’t exciting enough, the author can just add some gun battles, albino bad guys, kidnappings, mysterious coded messages, explosions, and (of course) sex. Non-fiction writers can’t throw in a car chase to liven a slow spot in the story. They have to rely on actual honest-to-goodness writing skill. Luckily, Hardy has that skill.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Don Hardy is a friend of mine. But I won’t praise his book just for that reason. Many of my friends and acquaintances are writers. Many of them are very good; I’ve written glowing reviews of books by Gary Ferguson, Mark Spragg, John Clayton, and others. Some are not so good; you won’t see reviews of their books written by me. When I speak highly of a book, it’s because I honestly thought it was a good book.
Hardy will be at my store on Friday, September 8 for a talk and book signing. I think that Shooting From the Lip is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in politics — especially the stark contrast between the way things work in Wyoming and they way they work in Washington, D.C.
NOTE: This review is based on an advance copy, and there may be changes before its scheduled release on September 4, 2011.
(Edited July 10)
Here’s the latest version of my Who Pooped in the Park? book signing schedule for July and August. There will probably be more, but here’s what’s confirmed so far:
West Yellowstone, Montana
Sun, July 24, 7:00-8:30 — Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
I will be giving a scat and tracks talk in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center theater starting at 7:00 p.m., followed by a book signing outside the gift shop (which closes at 8:30).
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana
Mon, July 25, 11:00-2:00 — Old Faithful Store
Mon, July 25, 3:00-6:00 — Old Faithful Inn
Tue, July 26, 11:00-1:00 — Canyon Lodge
Tue, July 26, 4:30-7:30 — Lake Hotel
Wed, July 27, 11:30-2:30 — Map room at Mammoth
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
Sat, July 30, 10:00-2:00 — Red Rock Visitor’s Center
Red Lodge, Montana
Mon, Aug 1, 6:00-8:00 pm — Beartooth Nature Center
This will be a “poop talk” and book signing as a part of the Beartooth Evening Adventures program.
Most of these will be book signings without a formal talk, but I’m always happy to chat if things aren’t too busy.
In 2009, my wife and I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Denver Rare Beer Tasting, put on by an organization called Pints for Prostates. It was a marvelous event, where two dozen breweries poured their rarest, most unique beers and money was raised for prostate cancer awareness. Upon my return, I made the event the subject of one of my Beer Snob columns. Little did I know what was to happen!
My awareness was raised by the little talk founder Rick Lyke (see his blog here) put on, and when I had my physical last year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My prostate was not enlarged, so a standard DRE (digital-rectal exam) did not catch it. I requested a PSA blood test, however, and that came back positive. Because of this beer tasting event, my cancer was caught early and surgery took care of it.
Now, it’s my turn to pass the word.
On Sunday, June 26 — the Sunday after Father’s Day — we’ll be doing a Pints for Prostates event in Red Lodge at the Pollard Pub. I’m working with local breweries and the Billings Clinic to put the event together, and I’ll be announcing more details as we get things finalized. We do know that Red Lodge Ales is preparing two special brews just for this event. One will be a vanilla bean porter, and the other will be an IPA aged on cedar chips.
The ticket price for the evening will include your beer and food for the evening (if you want anything else to drink, there will be a full no-host bar). What kind of food, you ask? We don’t have the full menu yet, but I can tell you it will include bangers and mash, along with Rocky Mountain oysters. Appropriate for a prostate cancer awareness event, no?
Stay tuned for more information, and I do hope you’ll attend if you live in the area. If you’d like to help with the event, let me know. Prostate cancer is a killer. I lost a cousin to it. Show up on June 26 and you’ll not only get some great beer, food, and fun, but it just might save your life.