Category Archives: Rants

Peeves – 3/15/2019

Today’s mail brought two items that generated this peeve.  Item one was a letter from a security firm letting me know that an online retailer from whom I had made a purchase last year had a security breech and “certain personal information” may have been compromised.  I don’t save credit card info on sites  that encourage you to do so for quicker check out, so I’m not terribly concerned about my log in and password for that site being accessed.  They claim that there is no evidence that this information has been used, but they are offering a year free dark web service.  Now I know that at the end of the “free” year, they will be on me like stench on a stinkbug to “buy” their service for continued security or auto renew it with credit card they require me to file with them.  I’m already covered, thank you.

In the same stack of mail is a bill for TV service.  The company recently changed hands and we had to update our electronic (through our bank log in) payment to their new account number, name, and address only to find out that they no longer accept electronic payments.  The bill was dated 3/3/19, received 3/15/19, and due in a week.  Our options are to write a paper check and hope it gets there in time, let the bank do an electronic check which won’t get there in time, or accept their “go paperless” method and allow them to automatically take money from our account or bill a credit card.  To do this, we have to either have our account information or our credit card on file with them.  See security breech above to see why this is distasteful.

We prefer to have control over who can access our accounts and money and I know that our credit card company will cover us and investigate if anything looks hinky.  They have changed my card twice due to it being unlawfully used, but it is getting more difficult to keep control.  The above mentioned breech is the second one I have gotten in the past few months, the first was not even online use, it was using my debit card in a retailer whose system was hacked.  How can we remain secure when our options are to give the retailers access to pay their debt without our having to make the payment through our bank?  How does someone who doesn’t have a credit card not be late?

“It would have been more comfortable… -10/19/2018

to remain silent.”  Anita Hill

But I won’t.  Some of you may not like this, but, it has become more and more difficult to be proud of America with our current President and his administration.  The President should be a leader, not a dictator, a bully, a narcissist, a buffoon.  I did not vote for him, and can not support him in any way when he makes fun of disabled people; when he mocks women about sexual assault; when he calls people that disagree with him or his policies derogatory names; when he praises political candidates for assault  against journalists ; when he belittles young voters for asking valid questions to which he disagrees.  He takes no responsibility for his actions, he is deceitful, and racists (or at least supports White Supremacy).

In my lifetime, it seemed that the country was headed in the right direction toward women’s rights; toward the rights of the LGBT community; toward immigration; toward race relations, but feel that since 2016 that we have returned to the 1950’s or earlier and that pains me.   As a survivor of a sexual assault more than 50 years ago in a time when you didn’t discuss it, didn’t tell, that we now have not one, but two Supreme Court Justices and a President who have been accused of sexual assault and the good old boys think that “Boy’s will be boys” or “Locker room talk” are adequate excuses for that behavior makes me cringe and want to cry.

As a former science teacher and a “tree hugger” who has always tried to do what is right for the environment, the climate change denying is troubling.  Living in a region of old coal mines and seeing the damage caused by mountain top removal, the poverty of those regions and knowing that coal mining is not the solution to our energy needs is troubling. Seeing that is still being mined transported through our county on it’s way to ports for export, not domestic use,  why would he support mining as an energy source and open more lands to oil drilling and fracking when there are other cleaner options that could be used.

Before you cast judgement on me, I am not a hard line liberal, but neither am I an ultra conservative.  I believe that race should not be an issue.  I believe that we should do everything we can, even if it requires regulation to protect our environment and our parks.  I believe that the government should not allow a private for profit industry to take our land away by eminent domain and shouldn’t despoil the planet for profit.  I believe that government and church are and should remain separate.  I believe that there is a place and time for private gun ownership, but not in the hands of our youth or our schools except by trained law enforcement officers.

And remember, if you aren’t Native American,  or descendant of a slave, your family too were immigrants, real people with real needs and often with families escaping intolerable conditions or seeking a better life, not all are criminals, in fact few are.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Technology – 1/25/2018

My Dad was 93 when he passed a couple of years ago, but right up to his last weeks, he got on his computer and read emails, tried to forward some of the fun ones, but not always successfully.  He used to say, “I’m a low tech guy in a high tech world.”

As a brand new college grad, I worked at a local bank and one of my jobs was to give tours of the new highrise central offices of said bank including their computer area.  Half a floor of the building, raised cooled flooring to keep the house sized computer running.  Now I carry a “computer” slightly larger than a playing card that is probably as powerful, certainly more powerful that the guidance computer on the first manned space missions.  Soon after the bank employment, I was hired into education, my course of study in college and only a few years into that, the computer literacy initiative came in to being with first the teachers and administrators trained, then later the students.  It was a DOS system and I remember being so very excited that I could enter my test questions, draw from a pool of them and create multiple variations of my exams.  Soon we had a Tandy (1000?) at home, an expensive “toy” that allowed you to play some basic games by typing in commands. How things have changed in the past 4 decades.

About 3 decades ago, Jim was opening his own law practice after having been with Legal Aid for years.  He went to get a cell phone and was asked if he wanted a car mounted one or one he could carry.  Carry around a phone, really?  We got me a “portable” one, a bag phone I think they were called, the battery was the size of two bricks and weighed about as much too, but I was about to travel with 3 kids 5 states alone and felt it was necessary.

I type this on a tiny laptop whose screen can be rotated 360º to use it as a tablet.  The screen is a touch screen.  I carry a small smartphone that can use cell service or wifi to make calls, a near necessity in the rural area we live.

Though our cars are both more than a decade old, our daughter’s which is only a few years old has blue tooth build in and a back up camera.  Son the elder has a newer car and it has so many electronic screens that I just look on in fascination, not sure I could figure it out and technology generally doesn’t intimidate me.

Refrigerators that can send a grocery list to your phone.  Touch screen appliances, cars that drive themselves.  We were taxed to try to find a replacement washing machine recently that did not have an electronic control panel, even our decade old dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave have those.

Is it making things easier?  More expensive?  Harder to repair?  We recently went for 10 days with no outgoing cell phone service and even called our local landline phone co-op to add long distance service because of it.  We have to keep a landline for internet and can’t call out of our county without long distance, even to the town 15 miles away.  Our cell phones had some incoming calls, internet, and texting, but couldn’t even call 911.  It took 3 lengthy chatline sessions with tech support with folks who I suspect were not in the US based on their names to determine that the problem was on their end, not our phones and that they were working on it.  Oh how annoying those sessions were with their scripted responses.

I love technology, but for a perspective on what could happen with technology failure, read Providence, VA by Michael Abraham, one of our local authors.

What are we becoming?

I tend to avoid politically charged issues in my blog, but the current climate has me quite disturbed.  In light of recent comments attributed to the President and the ensuing days of talking heads commentary on those remarks and their meaning, we have had a few discussions here at home.

I am a senior citizen, I lived through the period of segregated everything, the marches and riots.  In high school, as a senior, I was part of a group of students who were taken to the segregated black high school to a symposium as the schools were to be integrated the next year. I was graduated by the time it happened and had gone on to college. I guess even then I stood out as seeing people as people, not as people who were different by color or religion.  My friends as I transitioned into adulthood and employment were diverse, we went out together, ate at each other’s homes, were in each other’s weddings and celebrated baptisms of our children in each other’s churches.  Those people were and many still are my friends.

The civil rights movement at least on the surface seemed to improve race relations, but in light of recent events, I think that maybe it just drove those who were racists, bigots,  and intolerant of others of different skin color or beliefs to become silent and less visible.

There have been a lot of changes in our society very quickly.  Changes that are good for the country, good for the people.  Changes that allow people to express their sexuality openly, changes that allow same sex marriage, changes that are supposed to make all people equal, give all people equal rights without regard to gender, color, race, or religion.

We are a country  founded by immigrants.  There are few in this country that are true pure Native Americans.  Our country has embraced a statue in the harbor of New York with this quote based on the sonnet by Emma Lazarus,

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say to welcome only white, Christians.  It does not say to suppress the rights of those whose belief or color are different than yours

I fear that the current climate, though not a majority, just a very vocal minority, emboldened by our leader has determined that it is okay to be openly racists and bigoted. This saddens me, I had hoped that we had grown as a nation but fear that we are becoming a hated nation, a laughing stock.