Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson is my Lord and Savior

For those who don't know, Michael Jackson's breakout moment came in 1983 when he performed at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever reunion. The moment the lights dimmed on his breathtaking solo performance, Michael Jackson was no longer just a multi-regional (not quite national) celebrity, but an international superstar, as well-known as Coca Cola, McDonald's, and Mickey Mouse the world over. No one had ever seen a person, let alone a scrawny young black man with a single white glove, move like that, sing like that, do that thing with his feet like that, and dance in a way that made you want to join him. Even though Michael was lip-sync'ing throughout the performance, it didn't matter, because the moment was his, and Michael Jackson was showing us the way:

On a personal note, I have actually suffered in the name of Michael Jackson. In grade school my parents enrolled me in a religious private school called Heritage Baptist Academy that to this day may still practice corporal punishment. Once a person in a position of authority determined you deserved to be punished, you were called as your classmates' eyes tracked you out of the classroom and into the principal's office, where usually one or two authority figures were waiting. You were told what you were being held to account for, that you were about to be spanked because the authority figure loved you, and then you had to stand, put your hands on the edge of a desk, bend slightly over, and wait for the adult, usually a teacher or someone in a position of authority, to swat you several times on your clothed buttocks with the flat surface of a large wooden paddle. Depending on who the authority figure was, the experience could be absolutely terrifying, or merely shameful. There was a teacher, Mr. Hilton, who we all suspected would smack your behind with the crack of a baseball bat because he was tall, strong, with glasses and hairy forearms, who proudly swatted his toddler daughter. Then you had to go back to class with a red face and watery eyes and try to make it through the day knowing everyone knew what had happened to you.

Well, one morning during recess I found myself trying to copy Michael Jackson's trademark moonwalk, and was spotted by a fellow student, who told an authority figure about my behavior. Soon I was called into the principal's office, and you know the rest of the story. As it was explained to me at the time, the figure of authority who was about to strike me was doing so because he loved me; Michael Jackson was a worldly figure, and moonwalking was dancing, and dancing is of the world, and since being worldly was a sure path to hell, and as Christians, in this world, we must behave as if we are not of the world, I would be punished for trying to be like Michael Jackson. Afterward, the authority figure prayed that God would teach me that the most dangerous way to be was like this worldly figure. In retrospect, it was probably good advice, since we all know Michael Jackson was reported to be involved in some very strange things, such as trying to buy the bones of the Elephant Man Joseph Merrick, hanging around with a chimp, sleeping with young kids in his bed, and trying to look like a white woman.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

yesterday I was laid off

so now I join the ranks of those without a corporate sponsor, the wretched masses yearning to breathe free in an air-conditioned cubicle. It's weird, when I had gainful employment, I felt bad for those who I expected would soon try to hit me up for a job. Now that I am one of the very same in-between jobs, I'm going to take this crisis-opportunity to build up my online references, so that when the economy does turn people will know me for something useful and, Lord willing, employable. One way to do this is to focus on what I do best. I have lots of experience using (installing, testing and submitting bugs for) statistical analysis software.

The following is my own personal take on installing SAS® 9.1.3 Service Pack 4 on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium. Apparently, as of today's date, June 25, 2009, there is no published solution on the web about how to get these two working together. SAS effectively tells you that it's impossible:

SAS does NOT support Windows Vista 32-bit Home Editions:
  • Premium
  • Basic

but, as No Limit Soldier Master P says, I got the hook-up !

For those who haven't even installed SAS 9.1.3 yet, follow this guide:

Of course, along with the SAS software you will also need a SAS license in text file format. Fortunately for me, this was provided by my educational institution, though the license you have may be out-of-date (for me, the license expired in 2008), in which case you'll see the following error:

The current date is past the final expiration date


SAS addresses this in their documentation; you simply need to "Renew SAS Software", which is a program that comes with the freshly installed SAS on your computer. Unfortunately, like yours truly, you are one of the losers running a version of Vista that isn't supported by SAS 9.1.x. What to do ? At this point you'd see the following error (or something like it):

Error: Update lock is not available, lock held by another process

First, you'd think that the words "Home Premium" in Windows Vista meant you didn't have to see or deal with B.S. like SAS not being supported. Then you turn that loser frown upside down - while thanking your lucky stars I was given the pink slip ("walking papers" as I like to call it) by my employer yesterday - because you can make everything right with the following procedure:

  1. right-click on "Renew SAS Software"
  2. select "Run as administrator"
For me, that seemed to be the piece I was missing.

This first blog post is dedicated to my friends Raymond Barglow and Janet Somers, my brother-in-law Brian Moffat, and in memory of all those recently unemployed or looking for work. Congratulations to my friend JJ Behrens on recently getting hired. On a sad note, my heart goes out to the memory of Michael Jackson, who died before I could publish this blog post, and whose much anticipated comeback will not be.