Turned 65 last Sunday. Doing some research. Thought I’d share.
You be the judge
My wife has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for decades. She is a shut-in with limited mobility. Her iPhone 5s began to reboot continually, and since it is her ONLY PHONE I decided to get her the latest iPhone Xs MAX. It was supposed to arrive this Friday (September 28 or later).
UPS (United Parcel Service) sent me an email notification over the weekend telling me it would arrive Monday September 25th between 3 PM and 7 PM. It needed to be signed for. HOWEVER the driver arrived a few minutes before 2 PM, knocked lightly on the door and immediately left one of those “stickies” saying they would attempt ONE more delivery on the next day.
So I called to complain. By the time I finally got through the automated phone system to a real person I was well and truly steamed. Although attempting to assure the person on the other end of the phone that I knew it wasn’t his fault, I asserted in no uncertain terms how I felt about their automated phone system and the difficulty in talking to a human being. I also explained the situation and asked when the package would actually be delivered. The advice given to me was to be ready at 1 PM.
So while I was at work, my wife dutifully began waiting by the door at 1 PM for the UPS man. At work I tracked the progress of the UPS truck on a map via the “handy” UPS tracking website. At around 3 PM his truck was on my street a few houses down and I FaceTimed my wife on her iPad (recall that her iPhone does not work) to let her know that her new phone was almost there. Then for some inexplicable reason the UPS truck left our neighborhood. I tracked it continually until 7 PM when it finally got back to our house. Throughout this time I texted and FaceTimed my wife with updates. She was ready when he came to the door.
When the UPS guy finally got to the door my wife met him and asked why he didn’t come to our house at 3 PM when he was right there. His answer … he was specifically told by his supervisor to make us the LAST delivery of the day. UPS was punishing me for complaining!
Think about that for a minute.
So I called back UPS, navigated the phone system, and got through to another human. I rehashed all of the above and asked if it was UPS corporate policy to retaliate against customers who have complaints about service quality. I was of course assured that this was not the case and that someone higher up the management ladder would get back in touch with me. That was 24 hours ago. Nothing nada zip zilch.
What would you do if you were in my position?
First there was 22,000 Days …
and now (just the music – no relation to the folks in the video)
Side bar … although I own* many versions of “Birthday” – vinyl, cassette, CD, and iTunes – I can’t play it for you due to “copyright issues”, so I am forced to find the best cover on YouTube.
Welcome to the Future.
* no longer sure I actually own them, but I sure paid for them
Remember Adult Swim?
No, not the one from Cartoon Network. The original adult swim of 10 minutes every hour at your local Home Owner’s Association (HOA) community pool. It was originally used to give the lifeguards a break and give adults the ability to swim laps without interference from the kids.
Today at my local pool, which I began attending to walk laps for exercise (32 laps = 1 mile*), we were told at 10 minutes before the hour that it was Safety Break and EVERYONE had to get out of the pool for 10 minutes. Apparently there was an age discrimination lawsuit filed (and won) in California against Adult Swim. Now HOAs across the country are avoiding Adult Swim for fear of lawsuit.
I suggest they play Safety Dance during the Safety Break.
* the swim lane section of our pool is 25 metres long … one lap is 50 metres, one mile is 1609 metres … do the math
Apple Support Rocks
Saturday March 27 approximately 1:00 PM … sanity is restored
It may be a while before this posts, that is, between now and when I finish it.
In my previous post I commented: Arthur C. Clark once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” except when it f*ck$ up, then it is like a curse from Marie Laveau. (I added the Marie Laveau bit)
Note: My friend also updated his iPhone 6s Plus and thought it went without a hitch. HOWEVER he just discovered that his App Store app is gone. He just called Apple Support and was told that he needed wipe his iPhone and and restore from scratch. Based on my experience there may be another approach but after three days of this I told him I would help him another day. That will be another blog post. UPDATE – my friend had set up Settings > General > Restrictions to turn off access to the App Store and that is why the App Store app disappeared. Sadly he only discovered this after resetting his phone to factory default … TWICE.
Based on personal evidence I conclude that the iOS 10.3.2 upgrade is flawed. I now extremely reticent to upgrade my other devices.
Additionally I still don’t have all of my ringtones back. I now have most of them but not all. It may be less frustrating to just buy them again if I really want them. You see ringtones are entirely different from music or apps (or iBooks?) purchased from iTunes. Perhaps they are a throwback to the early days of cellphones. Ringtones cannot re-downloaded after purchase. It is a onetime thing. Backing them up requires syncing your iPhone to iTunes on a PC or Mac. I only got back the ones I did through the effort of upper level Apple iTunes Support.
My problem with this entire debacle is that I am so spoiled when it comes to Apple. I expect these kinds of issues with Windows and Linux. With Apple I expect it to “just work”. It always has for me. This time – for me – it failed to “just work.”
Anyway … back to Apple Support … throughout this entire ordeal every Apple Support person I have dealt with from Tier One to Upper Levels has been gracious, calm, and absolutely committed to resolving my issues. I don’t expect technology to function flawlessly at all times (Apple excluded – as I said I’m spoiled), but what do appreciate are companies dedicated to having happy customers. Apple certainly qualifies in this regard. Attention Tim Cook – you should be very proud of your support team.
Oh for the good olde days
Maybe Jim Stafford had it right …
Well, I think of that girl from time to time
I call her up when I got a dime
Or maybe a cocoanut telegraph?
Arthur C. Clark once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” except when it f*ck$ up, then it is like a curse from Marie Laveau.
• • • • •
Re-configuration continues slowly and methodically. Now I need to call Apple to figure out how to get all of my ring tones back. Mañana. I’m going to bed early tonight.
And so it goes
In order for my iPhone to see my Apple Watch I had to reset it to factory settings and now begin the task of reconfiguring it back to the way I liked it. I was on phone with Apple until 2 AM last night.
Now I begin the task of remembering, downloading, and reconfiguring every <expletive deleted> app on my iPhone and Apple Watch. Setting up email and remembering or changing passwords. Not how I had planned my day.
One thing is certain … my iPhone and watch will be leaner and meaner.
UPDATE – I am installing the latest Apple Watch version now (might as well there is no reason not too)
WARNING – RANT ALERT
The latest iOS 10.3.2 update has completely trashed my iPhone 6s Plus and by “trashed” I mean blasted it back to factory settings. I spent over five hours in online chat and phone calls with Apple support working between my iPad, MacBook, and iPhone. Only now do I have a semi working iPhone.
Here’s what happened – I set my iPhone up to upgrade to iOS 10.3.2 at about 6 PM before walking next door to have a beer (or two) with the neighbors as we often do. When I got back expecting all to be OK, my iPhone was in continuous reboot mode. It would briefly display the logon screen then immediately flash to the spinning wheel icon before re-displaying the logon screen, over and over and over again. The only way to break the cycle was to connect it to my MacBook and follow the instructions in the links below (provided by support).
I finally got it to the point of restoring from a backup and after going through all of the steps and waiting for everything to restore, it eventually went back into continuous reboot mode again. I ended up starting over from scratch several times and even attempting a restore from a backup made two days ago. I eventually got all the way to the end and … continuous reboot mode … again.
So start over again, but this time set it up as new iPhone without doing a restore. Luckily all of my contacts, photos, iTunes, and notes are safely in iCloud and available on my other Apple devices. They also appear to be mostly available on my iPhone, but I still need to reconfigure my email settings, selectively download and reconfigure apps (most of which require logon ID and password configuration), reset and reconfigure my alarms, and set my icons back to where I like them. I had also saved many web pages as icons so I will need to reconstruct these as well.
I also need to reconnect my Apple Watch, Fitbit Scale, and on and on and on.
UPDATE – can not get my Apple Watch to connect
Did I say “papers?” I meant “permits.”
I generally try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible … but “I’m angry as hell an not going to take it any more.” Below is but one example of a nationwide epidemic.
Excerpts below …
Government agents have again let their true colors shine, in a latest attempt to fight one of the most pernicious and brutal crimes embattling far too many communities across the nation — a lack of permit.
These fearless agents of the State, peace officers, not only seized the food supposedly so in need of a permit, they dumped punch into storm drains and confiscated coolers, tables, chairs, canned soda, and literally everything in the vendors’ possession — the entire raid, captured on Facebook Live video.
Ironically-monikered peace officers claimed without elaborating or providing specific details on the video they’d received complaints — but the outpouring of support from the public and church communities, as well as outrage over the raid, did not evince any complainants relieved to see the picnicking quashed.
From diligent street vendors offering tasty bites to kids’ offering family-recipe lemonade to parched passersby, one thing has been made abundantly clear — permitting is out of control.
Permits are the government’s way of bilking people of money under the petulant guise of public safety — but the truth about permitting is much simpler and infinitely less benign.
‘You aren’t allowed to profit unless I get my cut,’ is what the State really says when Mexican food vendors, flood victims, little girls, and countless others receive fines and tickets — or have their possessions confiscated — due only to lack of permit.
That the Sacramento food vendors didn’t shirk legal responsibilities and had applied for the necessary permits when cops seized their wares again proves the issue has little to do with the permit, itself, and everything to do with an unreasonable government running roughshod on all of us.
As it always has been …
It’s all about the Benjamins
Read the entire article at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/food-raid-armed-agents/
The video below does an excellent job of explaining exactly how the Falcon 9 survives re-entry
The heat of re-entry is due to the compression of the atmosphere ahead of the re-entering vehicle, NOT air friction. Think of a diesel engine that works by highly compressing the air in the cylinder above the ignition temperature of the diesel fuel which is then injected at maximum compression and temperature.
- “I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” my service writer replied.
Houston, we have a problem.
I noticed one of my warnings lights was on as I drove through the parking lot. No wait. ALL OF MY WARNING LIGHTS WERE ON. The main console was lit up like a Christmas tree. I pulled into a parking space and rebooted the car (aka turning it off and on). All of the warning lights stayed on and the primary notification window alternated between “CHECK PCS SYSTEM” and “CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM”.
My Prius had gone Apollo 13 on me.
With my luck, it’s the AE-35 Unit.
It wasn’t the AE-35 Unit.
It was the Flux Capacitor … or the financial equivalent thereof.
= = =
Thursday was a busy day at CatBeard Manor. The Mrs was back from the hospital but still wheelchair-bound. A plumber was out, reaming a decades-old clog from our plumbing to allow the upstairs toilet to flush without filling up the tub. A cable technician was out for the nth time troubleshooting my abysmal Internet performance. And finally, the first wave of physical therapy had arrived to evaluate the Mrs. So I was calling Toyota every hour or so trying to get an update on the Prius. No joy.
Late in the afternoon, after everyone had left my house, I decided to drive over to Toyota and talk in-person to my service writer. I drove the rental car to the front, parked, got out, and got a free cup of coffee in the lobby before stalking my service writer.
I walked up behind him and said “you’re a very difficult guy to get a hold of.”
“It’s been a goat rodeo here,” he replied.
“I came by to get some free coffee and while I was here decided to stop by and find out what was up with my Prius.”
I got a smile. “Let me go in the back and find out what’s going on.”
He was gone a long time.
When he came back he was carrying two sheets of paper. The first sheet of paper was a printout, the first line of which had HYBRID BATTERY with a bunch of Xs after it in various columns indicating various failed tests. The second sheet was blank save for handwritten numbers indicating cost of the part, tax, and labor. The total was $5600 or so.
$5600 Deep breath. Did I mention that I have been out of work since last February? I got laid off following my 15 year anniversary award with a major oil field services company. “Yeah I was afraid it would be this.” The discussion then went on to how I had read that the cost had come down and/or that individual battery cells could be replaced. Maybe, but not through Toyota. “Is there anyway this might be covered under warranty?” I asked. “Let’s find out,” he replies.
Typing ensues. Screens pop up on his monitor. He pulls out a little book and starts leafing through it. This goes on for what seems like an eternity. Then he reaches over to the sheet with $5600 handwritten on it, crumples it up with one hand, and tosses it in the trash. Now I am staring at a screen showing the warranty status of various subsystems for my car. Each them shows that it is out of warranty – EXCEPT for the HYBRID BATTERY. It is warranteed to 100,000 miles. My car has less than 100,000 miles on it.
“So,” I ask tentatively, “it’s under warranty?”
“Are you sure?”
“I want to kiss you.”
He had some more paperwork to do, so I walked over to get more free coffee. Then I went to the car rental desk and requested a printout of the contract on the car had I rented the day before. I intended to try to get Toyota to comp me for the rental car, since it was warranty work. When I got back to the service desk, my service writer was way ahead of me. “You have a rental car, yes? We’ll cover that.” He called over to rental desk and made it so.
As I left, I shot him a thumbs-up. “Free replacement battery pack. Free rental car. Free coffee. Can’t beat that.”
He smiled. “Especially the free coffee. It may not be good, but it’s free.”
“I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” my service writer replied.
Houston, we have a problem.
It has not been a good week at CatBeard Manor. Last Thursday the Mrs lost feeling, then function in her left leg. It was effectively “dead”. It had been bothering her for a while prior to this. (MS? Leg? Spine? MS? Leg? Spine?) She immediately called her neurologist, but it rolled over to voicemail. I broke out the wheelchair which we use from time to time when the Mrs feels particularly exhausted. Feeling and function returned over the weekend. I put away the wheelchair and broke out the walker. By Sunday evening she was “free walking” once again, unaided.
On Monday her left leg began acting up again. That afternoon I was out running errands when she called to say that the neurologist had called. “Go directly to the ER to be admitted to hospital for tests. Do not pass GO! Do not collect $200.” It was after 4 PM. I went home and collected the Mrs, the wheelchair, and several bags of supplies. We knew the drill. By the time they put her in an “observation” room they had run X-rays and a CAT scan of her head to rule out stroke, blood tests, and ultra-sound of her leg to rule out a blood clot. It was 2 AM Tuesday when she got to her room. I went home exhausted and got little sleep.
On Tuesday afternoon they scheduled her for cranial, cervical, and lumbar MRI (head, neck, back). She finished these up at 5 PM. I stayed until 10 PM, then left for home. Unable to fall asleep, I had a second mostly sleepless night.
When I got to the hospital today (Wednesday), I got the diagnosis that she had torn ligaments in her back from previous falls and probable degenerative disk disease causing irritation of nerves to her leg (a visit to the neurosurgeon who worked on my back several years ago would likely be in our future). They were sending her home with instructions to rest and a home health physical therapist would be set up to visit. She was scheduled to be discharged late in the afternoon.
I decided to run out and get some lunch. It was just before 2 PM. I walked out to parking lot, got into our 2010 Prius, and drove off. I noticed one of my warnings lights was on as I drove through the parking lot. No wait. ALL OF MY WARNING LIGHTS WERE ON. The main console was lit up like a Christmas tree. I pulled into a parking space and rebooted the car (aka turning it off and on). All of the warning lights stayed on and the primary notification window alternated between “CHECK PCS SYSTEM” and “CHECK HYBRID SYSTEM”.
My Prius had gone Apollo 13 on me.
I drove straight to my nearby Toyota dealer, waited to get my favorite service writer and told him my Prius had gone Apollo 13. “I warned you not to stir the oxygen tanks,” he replied. They would not even be able to begin troubleshooting on it until tomorrow. With my luck, it’s the AE-35 Unit.
Anyway, I went over to the rental counter and while waiting I got a call from the Mrs informing me that she was being discharged. I arrived in time in the rental car to pick her up at front door (an aid brought her down in her wheelchair with all of our gear).
Tomorrow is another day.
Maybe it’s the Russians …
First Weggieboy (https://phainopepla95.com/2016/12/28/post-1255-argh-router-issues-this-time/) … now me.
Luckily my iPad has a cellular data connection or I could not post this. After noticing that webpages failed to load, I attempted a speed test. FAIL
So I unplugged my modem/router/wifi box and waited “long enough” then plugged it back in. Still no Internet access via WiFi.
Called my big name cable TV and internet service provider. “There is an outage in your area,” an automated voice announced. “Service is expected to be back … blah blah blah (whenever)”
OK Internet is back up BUT download speed is terrible. Call them back.
Now I am on hold with a human agent as they check my system (7:56 PM CST) …
There still appears to be “partial outage” in the network the will be corrected by 8:45 PM CST.
Now it is 8:49 PM. I unplugged my modem/router/wifi box and waited “long enough” then plugged it back in.
Download speed is about 25% of what it should be. Upload speed is normal.
Give me a
head cat with hair …
All of my cats have hair, a long top layer and an almost downy under layer. I don’t comb them enough. They can’t … be …combed enough. When I finally notice the matty mat mats it’s too late. Combing yields at least an extra cat full of hair, maybe more. Hillary and Pickles are forgiving. Patches not so much. They get shaved in the summer at the vet, but it is too cold to shave them in the winter. (As cold as we run the AC in the summer I even hate to shave them then.)
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t let them get as matted as some of the horror stories you see on the Internet, but a little matting goes a long way and takes a long time to get out.
I have a Roomba 980 and EVERY time it runs it fills up with hair. I could show you pictures, but just imagine a large cat without the actual cat. If you have long haired cats you know what I mean.
I mention this because I noticed that Hillary was getting just a little matted and when I had finished combing him out I had an extra cat and he didn’t look any skinnier.
Rant for December 11
Comcast Internet tech came to house. Richard was very diligent. Comcast staff, not contractor. Spent much time monitoring signal. Identified spurious transmission errors. Determined that I was the only one of four on the “node” – good news. Bad news – the other three connections were “unterminated”. Richard terminated them. He also replaced the cable from the house to the node. Problems “appear” fixed.
Got email from Apple from AppStore Re: purchase of Burley Men at Sea
WTF????? – I didn’t buy this.
Hours on chat / phone / website to Apple. AppleID compromised. Got a refund. Changed my password.
Filed from http://www.ephesusgrill.com/ Katy TX
PS … I ordered a $40 bottle of Turkish wine with the intent of having some and bringing it home. Ha ha – I drank it all. Safely home now.
So … today I decided to run speed tests on my Internet again …
The faster numbers on December 10 are for the 5 Ghz Wi-Fi channel and the slower for the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel. The 5 Ghz Wi-Fi channel is fast enough to keep up with the native cable modem speed, the 2.4 GHz channel … not so much. I think I knew that, but had not paid attention as I always connect via the 5 GHz channel.
My son confirms that direct wired connection is running at full speed as well.
I am definitely getting a “performance discrepancy” with Comcast that varies throughout the day. Does this reflect bandwidth congestion from other users? Probably.
Will retry the upload now.
Are you Internet tech savvy? Look at the following and tell me what you see …
After watching the video in the previous post, Brothers, I felt that the video was a bit blurry and decided to upload an HD version of the video. What follows is a classic case of when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.
The upload to YouTube for the HD version from my iPad was taking forever. WTF?
It all started two weeks ago (cue music from Alice’s Restaurant) when number two son got a message on his upstairs TV that we had to upgrade his cable box from Xfinity/Comcast. So I asked him to investigate and it turned out that we needed to collect our Internet cable modem and two cable TV boxes and take them to Comcast to exchange for newer models. He brought down his box and I got the downstairs box and modem and the very next day I took them to Comcast to swap them out.
The next day I got a new cable modem, a master cable TV box and a secondary cable TV box and brought them home. Number two son took over the job of hooking up the new modem and master TV box downstairs and after at least an hour on the phone got the downstairs TV and modem working. However when he tried to get the secondary box connected to the upstairs TV it did not work. After additional communications with Comcast he determined that he needed another master box for his TV.
Days later it arrived and when he hooked it up to his TV he still could not get reception. After another session on the phone to Comcast, it was determined that a technician needed to come out to the house.
Last Tuesday said technician (an independent contractor for Comcast) spent the entire afternoon running new cable, splitters, and installing a signal booster (a powered amplifier) in order to get a TV signal upstairs. As he was getting ready to leave I cornered him and asked him what he did (see previous sentence). He also told me that our Internet performance was poor and that there was nothing he could do on my end. He said he would put in a support ticket for Comcast to investigate on their end.
On Thursday (December 8th) I called Comcast to follow up and was told they had no record of any problem being reported. While on the phone I ran a speed test (see image above for December 8) and told them that I was getting about 160 download and 12 upload. I was told that my service level was for 100-150 download and 10 upload … the best available. My value of 160/12 was certainly better than 150/10, so all was good. I left it at that.
So tonight (December 9th) I tried to upload an HD version of the Brothers video (remember the Brothers video?). We’ll just wait for it to come around on the guitar. It was taking forever to upload. So I called Comcast to complain. The first thing we did was a speed test. My numbers were 107/0.9. Then 67/0.3. That is … 0.3 vs 10 … for upload. “How far away from the modem are you?” Comcast guy asks. A reasonable troubleshooting question as walls and pipes can interefere and slow Wi-Fi speed. I am already on the move with iPad and iPhone to the room with the cable modem/Wi-Fi. “I am two meters away from the modem with clear line of sight,” I tell him. “71/0.28 – my Internet sucks,” I continue. “Do you have a computer connected directly via Ethernet?” Comcast guy asks. I Skype number two son upstairs. His numbers are WORSE than mine on Wi-Fi. (WTF x2) Comcast guy asks to reset the modem. OK. No improvement. I tell him that number two son has been complaining about poor performance. “How long?” Comcast guy asks. “How long?” I text number two son. “Two weeks, maybe, since we got the new modem.” Comcast guy says he needs to send out another technician to look at our Internet. “Sunday afternoon is our first availablity.” Sigh … OK.
Where was I? Oh yeah, guess I will wait until Sunday or Monday to try to upload the HD version of the Brothers video. Or maybe I won’t …
It really is, you know …
Before The Flood
Seriously – whatever your current attitude or belief system, whether you are conservative, liberal, republican, or democrat – watch this first. Then decide.
YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind (A Rant)
1) making one less intelligent
2) filling people’s mind with patently false concepts, ideas, or historical information
3) reducing or eliminating common sense and rational thought in others
Verb (see stupidification)
I can’t stand it anymore. If I don’t rant my head will explode.
I am a child of the 60s. I was there when it happened I saw it with my own eyes. I am also a man of rational thought and historical perspective. I understand and follow the scientific method and I have a good grasp of recent and ancient history.
Humankind has made incredible advances in the last 5000 years. We have gone from wandering about foraging for food, living in fear of nature, disease, and the elements to almost totally mastery of our environment. We have greatly improved the life expectancy and quality of life of the majority of people living on this planet. We have identified, studied, and cured numerous diseases. We have dramatically improved the food supply. We have improved sanitation, the quality of the water we drink and the safety of our work environment.
In the past 5000 years our concept of mathematics has gone from one / few / many to calculus and higher forms of mathematics. This has enabled the advancement of the sciences and our understanding of chemistry, physics, and the world around us, below us, and above us. We have gone from walking on foot to spanning the globe by land, sea, air, and space. Our roads and automobiles allow us to travel farther in an hour than ancient people could travel in a day. Modern air transportation can take us nearly anywhere in the world in less than a day. Manned and unmanned spacecraft circle the Earth in 90 minutes.
Our accumulated knowledge of the past 5000 years has allowed us to develop the technology required to build computers, routers, switches, fiber-optic cables, the Internet, online banking, video communication, websites, blogs, YouTube, streaming music, smart phones, tablets, and much much more. Geosynchronous satellites provide weather information and satellite television. Google, Bing, and other search engines provide us instantaneous access to all of mankind’s knowledge. Men and women graduating college today have never known a time without this technology and we all take it for granted.
Eratosthenes first determined that the Earth was a sphere in the first century BC and actually calculated its circumference to within 15% of its currently accepted value. The fields of surveying and geodesy have established to the nth decimal point the shape of the earth as an oblate spheroid and have developed a vast selection of projection systems (aka Coordinate Reference Systems) used by map makers and the global GIS community to map sections of the three dimensional earth to the two dimensional maps used by governments, companies, and individuals. The map applications on our smart phones rely heavily on this body knowledge. The global network of fiber-optic subsea cables that empower the global Internet could not have been laid without this body of knowledge.
Mankind has been a spacefaring nation since the late 1950s with launch of Sputnik by the former Soviet Union. Humanity has had a more or less continuous human presence in low earth orbit since the early 1960s beginning with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. To date Russia / Soviet Union, the United States, and China have launched men and women into space. Each of these countries has had multiple long duration space stations in orbit. A total of 544 people have been in orbit. Twelve Americans walked on the surface of the moon during the Apollo program of the late 1960s – early 1970s. The total time spent by humans in space is in excess of 131.3 man-years. The following countries have some form of manned and/or unmanned space program: America, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Russia. Unmanned scientific probes have studied every planet in our solar system. India has a robust unmanned space program and it successfully placed the Mangalayaan probe into Martian orbit on its first try in 2014. World Space Flight has documented every manned and unmanned mission to date.
The knowledge mankind has acquired in the past 5000 years is vast and deep. The technologies we have developed with this knowledge are nothing short of magical.
The “straw the broke the camels back” occurred while preparing my previous post on the Falcon 9. I ran across a YouTube video on “FakeX” whereby the vlogger reviewed footage of the last SpaceX CRS-8 launch and step-by-step pointed out how every aspect of the video was fake. His explanation and reasoning for each of his points indicated how truly clueless, ignorant, and stupid he was … and yet this video had thousands of views and the vlogger had thousands of followers. Most of the comments and commenters agreed with him. I won’t give you the link because I don’t want to give him another view. Across the Internet and YouTube you will find hundreds (thousands?) of videos “proving” how we have been lied to about:
The Earth is really flat and not a sphere – we’ve been lied to
NASA is lying to us – all spaceflight is faked
The Moon landings were all faked
9/11 – the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled demolition, not planes
The holocaust never happened
Pretty much if you can name an established fact, you will find a blog and a host of YouTube videos “proving” that it is obviously not true and that we have been lied to. A vast global conspiracy has lied to us about pretty much everything we have ever been taught in school or college.
Funny you think? Maybe, until you realize that this counter-culture numbers in the hundreds with followers numbering in the thousands or more. Globally. Millions of views. It is not so much a disbelief in reality as it is a readiness to BELIEVE that everything we have been told or taught about [insert topic] is a lie.
How do you teach science to kids when an Internet search is just as likely bring up even more sites and YouTube videos refuting the science. In a world where everyone gets equal time the “NASA lies crowd” get as many hits as the “NASA crowd”. Even worse Google and YouTube give you suggestions based on your viewing history. Months ago I watched some flat Earth videos and faked Moon landing videos. Now most of videos suggested for me by YouTube are exactly these kinds of videos. “There must be some truth to this if there are that many videos.” And … if someone tries to refute the “we’re being lied to video” the vlogger responds with “wow look at how hard they are working to prop up the big lie.”
Think I’m over reacting? Go to YouTube and search on “NASA lies” or “flat earth” or “Moon landing hoax” or “holocaust hoax” or “9/11 hoax” or … or … or … Look at the number of views. Look at the comments. If you personally did not experience it how do you know what is truth? Science? Laws of Physics? All lies.
Lies lies lies everything you have ever been taught about anything is a lie. AND YOU CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE.
Whew, OK I’m calmer now … but I’m not done yet.
The irony in all of this is that the Internet and YouTube would not even exist were it not for the very technological advances and hard earned knowledge that the conspiracy theorists tell us are all lies. Global subsea cables and communications satellites are the backbone of the Internet. Flat Earth? I don’t think so.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan
So back to the title of this rant … YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind
YouTube and the Internet give anyone regardless of intellegence, education, or cognitive function equal footing with the brightest and most learned among us. It is the great equalizer … and the great stupidifier … on a global scale … 24×7.
See also The War on Science
- A week ago last Friday, after just celebrating my 15th anniversary with my employer, I was laid off (with 5000 others).
- The Mrs was scheduled for surgery tomorrow at the downtown medical center to replace her Intrathecal Baclofen Pump which is failing prematurely after only two years. Her previous pump lasted seven years.
- Due to Multiple Sclerosis, steroid-induced diabetes, MS meds, overactive spleen, and god knows what else, the Mrs platelet count is chronically low. When we initially saw the surgeon weeks ago it was 70 (in whatever units they measure platelets).
- Today, this morning, surgeon’s office calls to say that they are doing the Mrs surgery first thing in the morning.
- To avoid traffic issues of driving downtown, I reserved a room for two nights at Courtyard by Marriott near the hospital and we were getting ready to head in this afternoon.
- Today, this afternoon, surgeon’s office calls to say that he will NOT do the surgery unless platelet count is over 100.
- We go to see hematologist. Platelet count is now only fifty. No surgery tomorrow.
- I call Marriott to cancel room. Sorry, special non-refundable prepaid rate. I call up and down chain of command at Marriott. Sorry. So I am stuck with a $770 charge to my credit card for a hotel room I am not using.
- Tomorrow I need to notify wife’s pain management doctor (not the surgeon) to order the medicine to refill the pump on Friday (another $700 out of pocket) otherwise wife will turn into a rigid ball of total body muscle spasm (aka Charley horse)
- Hematologist can transfuse platelets but not this week.
- No idea when surgery will be now.
- I hear wife moaning from the bedroom. Entire left side in pain 8/10.
As I said, welcome to my Pity Party. What’ll ya have?
Maybe I can barter this for food … or code HTML.
As of right now the US debt is $19 trillion.
The US Population is 323,265,262
That works out to over 58 thousand dollars owed by every single man, woman, and child in the US to pay off that debt.
In 2013 the US debt was only $17 trillion …
Acquisition Of Signal
Contacted Doug last night in Scottsbluff. Doug is in good spirits, all things considered. He is still … with good reason … pissed off.
Doug gave me cell the phone number of his friend in Alliance. I contacted friend today. Friend hopes to see Doug on Tuesday, deliver cell phone and clothes. As we need a secure channel, Doug’s cell phone will not be released. You may leave messages for him on this blog, Maggie’s blog, or his blog.
Doug’s sister, Maggie’s mom, Doug’s friend in Alliance, and I are all in contact by email and phone.
LOS (Loss Of Signal) … a term first popularized during the Apollo lunar missions when the astronauts were behind the Moon and out of line-of-sight radio communication with the Earth. Also refers to loss of signal during re-entry when the ionized atmosphere enveloping a returning spacecraft blocks all radio transmissions.
Dark Side of the Moon … that side of the Moon that always faces away from the Earth and is never seen. The side the Apollo astronauts saw during LOS.
“Doug, this is Houston. Do you read? Over?”
“Doug, this is Houston. Do you read? Over?”
“Houston, this is Scottsbluff. Doug is confirmed LOS.”
“Roger that, Scottsbuff. LOS.”
“Houston, this is Alliance. We concur with Scottsbluff. Doug has definitely gone Dark Side of the Moon.”
“Roger that, Alliance.”
For someone with kidney failure, Doug (aka weggieboy) is well and truly pissed off.
As I write this Doug is STILL in Denver. What’s that you say, “Wasn’t he supposed to be home in Alliance?”
Yes, yes he was. But for reasons not yet clear, Doug’s release from Amberwood Court Care Center in Denver was delayed a day. To make matters worse he now has to pay $160 to stay an extra day, because he has exceeded the time limit for 100% Medicare coverage. Even better (and not in a good way) he didn’t even get physical therapy today so he just hung around “like a mushroom”*.
The new plan is for him to leave tomorrow, driven by an old friend from Denver who is going back to see family in Alliance.
“Well at least he his FINALLY going home to see his kitties,” you say.
Well just hold on there one minute bucko!
Doug isn’t going home to Alliance. He is going to Scottsbluff – on the way to Alliance. AND … his friend won’t have the time to take Doug to Alliance, then back to Scottsbluff to drop Doug off, then go back to Alliance.
Doug is pissed off. So am I. So is Maggie’s mom, Liz. You should be too! I would hate to think that Amberwood Court Care Center purposely dragged its heals to get every penny of Doug’s Medicare money (and then some). That never happens. And I would also hate to think that Doug is being sent to Scottsbluff due to some financial accrual to Amberwood, because stuff like that never happens either.
On a positive note – seriously – Doug has been able to contact the people caring for the boys and even heard one of them meow. And another friend in Alliance is going to bring him clothes, keys, wallet, cellphone, and laptop computer.
Still I am thinking of hiring GRAVICKGROUP to pay Doug a visit in Scottsbluff.
Stay tuned …
* “like a mushroom” – kept in the dark and fed $h1t
Think about it
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One fucking millimeter. There I said it … millimeter … or if you prefer millimetre.
iPhone 6s The only thing that’s changed is everything
No … not everything.
My old iPhone 5s died. OK so it didn’t really die, but the female charging port on the phone got damaged from accidentally ripping the charging cord out of the phone … one … too … many … times. Getting the phone to charge involved just the right amount of ceremonial incantations, fiddling with the Lightning connector, and careful positioning of the iPhone and cord. On the Monday before my birthday the phone died and would not charge. So I ordered a new iPhone 6s Plus, which as luck would have it arrived on said birthday. (Happy Birthday to me, etc., etc, etc.)
I love everything about it … except …
Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, can I call you Jony?
So Jony, the whole world knows how fucking brilliant you are. There, I did it again … brilliant. Yes, you … are … brilliant. You’ve even been knighted for brilliance, for Christ’s sake.
You are brilliant … and you are obsessed. Obsessed with industrial design. Obsessed with elegance. Obsessed with perfection. You are also obsessed with thinness. Obsessed.
But when does obsession cloud judgement? When does the obsession for thinness negate superb industrial design?
One fucking millimeter. If you had made the iPhone 6 series one millimeter thicker, the camera lens would be flush with the case … like the iPhone 5 … and EVERY other iPhone before it. No one … and I do mean no one … would have noticed or cared if the iPhone 6 series was one millimeter thicker.
What could you do with an extra one millimeter of thickness? Make the case a tad thicker and stronger. Make the battery thicker and add a few extra minutes of run time. Who knows? Who cares?
The important thing is that one millimeter is the difference between a smooth backside and one with an ugly zit that keeps the phone from laying solidly on on flat surface without rocking. One millimeter means not worrying about scratching fine old wooden finishes. One millimeter is the difference between obsession and … perfection.
Any chance of fixing this in the iPhone 7?
I … can’t … keep … up
Seriously, stop blogging. Just for a day or two.
How did it get this bad?
It started simply enough. I decided to automatically follow anyone who liked or commented on any one of my posts. Then to make sure that I read them, I went to “Blogs I Follow” and made sure I got an email notification for every new post. I figured that anyone who liked or commented on one of my posts was a like-minded spirit and would be interesting to follow. More or less this turned out to be a correct assumption.
Others turned out not so much. Some had long, rambling (boring) tl;dr posts that I just couldn’t wade through. Some posted every minute of every day and flooded my email with posts. Some posted on topics that were of absolutely no interest to me. So for these I went back to “Blogs I Follow” and turned off email notification.
Now I was down to the blogs that were interesting. Your blogs. Your stories. Your cats. Your photos. Your news. Your ideas. Your humor. Your successes. Your fears. Your emotions. All of it good. All of it interesting.
Even as I write this, the email counter ratchets upward. Notifications are coming in faster than I can delete them. But I can’t just delete them. I have to look at them in order to delete them and then I read them and then I click on the link and go to the post and then I read the comments and by the time I’m done more notifications have come in. Even worse I may decide to reblog one. By the time I’m done, yet more notifications are in my mailbox.
I originally started this blog a few years ago as a venue for writing Fiction and autobiographical history. Then I started adding cat photos. Then reblogs of interesting posts and videos. Now I can’t even keep up with the blogs I follow.
… and put up a parking lot
There has been a building boom in the far west Houston area. They must be building for the next boom because oil patch layoffs are at an all time high. All manner of woodlands, grasslands, and former rice fields are being paved over to build subdivisions, apartments, office complexes, and shopping complexes. I am not a tree hugger and am more aware than most that the only constant in the universe is change.
I just passed another area of new construction and this tune started playing in my head. At no time in the past 45 years has it been more true than today.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Perhaps society has always been at war with science. Science challenges belief systems. Science threatens the status quo. Scientific thinking requires one to question everything.
However scientific thought does not grant one the ability to throw out centuries of hard-won knowledge just because the doubter does not “believe” it. The Internet is chock full of blogs decrying the “lies” perpetuated by scientists, NASA, the media, the government. It is truly ironic that the science and technology that made computers, smart phones, tablets, and the Internet possible is the very science under attack on the Internet. So much of the “information” on the Internet is opinion and belief offered up as fact. The Internet gives everyone an equal voice.
Instead of making us smarter, the Internet is making us dumber. Our knowledge is based on “factoids” and “sound bites”. Few people bother to dig deeper. TL;DR
Sadly, I ran across this video on one of those “anti-science”, “we have been lied to” blogs. The author comments:
This is just such a great example of how sometimes the propaganda gets so heavy in it’s shaming tactics that it only serves to show how desperate and panicky the official side is seemingly becoming.
Science = propaganda
Whatever other titles I have held during my professional career …
I proudly claim the title of Scientist.
Look closely at the fingers. What race of human or species of animal do those hands belong to?
It appears that [redacted] is using illegal aliens to build their keyboards … aliens from from Epsilon Eridani!
The next time you give money to someone on the street, tell them to “Pay it forward.”
All cultures embrace concepts of compassion and charity. Only the most greedy, miserly wretch does not feel compelled to help a fellow human being in need. Too many people view the homeless, the street corner beggars, the mendicants as just good-for-nothing bums, too lazy to get or keep a job. Yet many of these folks have fallen so far, have lived on the street so long, have let their health and appearance degrade to the point that no one would hire them. Many have just given up – the pit of despair can be very very deep. Many have made poor choices, drugs and alcohol often are involved. Others are victims of circumstance, the economy, or upbringing. In the “bell curve” of human intellect, drive, ambition, and social skills there will always be those who excel at the high end … and those trapped at the low end. Others are only visiting the low end, a temporary “fall from grace”.
Much is made of the phrase “a hand up, not a hand out.” As if giving to someone in need is only justified if that person somehow betters himself or herself. People who would never give money to someone on the street, feel somehow better giving to their church or an organization. Others feel that tithing 10% to their church, obviates the need for direct person-to-person contact with the low-lifes begging at the intersection. Yet how much of the monies donated to the church and/or other organizations actually makes to into the hands of the needy? What with administrative costs, rents, utilities, etc., churches and organizations can justify huge “expenses”. We continually hear of directors of charitable organizations “living large” off the proceeds donated for the poor.
Who best to decide
How to distribute the tithe
Than he who has need?
• • •
Perhaps you have heard the following comments: “But there are so many people in need, how can I possibly help them all?” or “If I help one person, I’ll have to help them all! I am compassionate, but I am not wealthy. Let the wealthy help them.”
The story of the starfish comes to mind …
Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a child, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The child was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The child paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled man.
To this, the child replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the child bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
Quoted content from http://www.throwingstarfish.com/the-starfish-story/
• • •
“Paying it forward is a third-party beneficiary concept that involves doing something good for someone in response to a good deed done on your behalf or a gift you received. When you pay it forward, however, you don’t repay the person who did something nice for you. Instead, you do something nice for someone else. For example, if someone changes your tire while you are stranded on the highway, you might shovel your elderly neighbor’s walkway after a snow has fallen.”
“The concept has a firm foundation in history. Ben Franklin described it in a letter he wrote to Benjamin Webb in 1784, in which he wrote about his intention to help Webb by lending him some money. He did not want to be repaid directly, however. Instead, Franklin hoped that Webb would at some point meet an honest man in need of financial help and pass the money along to him.”
“Paying it forward doesn’t have to mean giving a large some of money or expending a lot of effort. It could be as simple as holding the door for someone laden with bags or giving up a place in line to someone who appears in a rush. It could even mean spending a little cash on coffee for the person behind you in line at a coffee house. For those who have money they can afford to give, there are always people in need, but even the smallest, free gestures can make a difference.”
Quoted content from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-does-pay-it-forward-mean.htm
The ever vigilant WP Happiness Engineers listened patiently to my rant and have released 5.3.1.
At first blush this seems to address my unhappiness. 🙂
An open letter to WordPress regarding WordPress for iOS 22.214.171.124
In a word – not to put it too delicately – the new version of WP for iOS …
SUCKS makes me unhappy
So much wrong, so little space to rant.
- Preview does not work (1). Embedded videos no longer preview; only the text for the embedding displays.
- Preview does not work (2). The “preview” does not show the banner and other attributes as it used to.
- Selecting a post to “preview” does something that forces you to “update” or “discard” even if all you do is attempt to “preview”. What is getting changed?
- Previously set links appear to be missing
- Keyboard is funky. Undo … doesn’t work. Delete key was inserting newlines.
The above is my experience using WP for iOS 126.96.36.199 on an iPad Air 2 with iOS 8.3.
Since I am a beta tester for WordPress, one might think I would have seen these problems ahead of time and reported them, but alas every single beta release I have attempted to install over the past few months has CRASHED ON OPEN. I have reported this to WordPress many times, but with no fix suggested. But that is a tale for another time.
I maintain my blog exclusively via iPad/iPhone. The new release version is a major set back for me. Maybe this performance is specific to my environment, if so, I am a single unhappy user. But if others are experiencing a similar user experience … how many other unhappy users are out there?
How I long for the days when I was happy. It seems so long ago, but it was only yesterday.
So Happiness Engineers … I challenge you to once again make me happy.
After several attempts to preview this post I got the following:
So rather than pasting in the loooooong password I got from WordPress many moons ago, I tried typing it in directly. Ah Ha this new password does not appear to allow spaces (no space bar). My old password supplied by WP had spaces after ever four character quartet (ie. ab1c de2f gh3i jk4l).
Now I am even more unhappy that I have to change my password. 😦
I uninstalled / reinstalled WP from the App Store. Used my old login ID and password; it was accepted. Preview still does not work. I am still unhappy.
OK, this is weird. If I select a “published” post (like this one) it immediately provide the update option. Preview fails with or without updating … BUT if you try to back out and choose Discard the “eye | gear | update” changes to “eye | edit”. Clicking the “eye” yields a correct preview.
HOWEVER, if you choose a “draft” post and try the same logic you get the “Error: The password field is empty.” dialog shown above, requesting login.
So … the functionality is there … sort of … but jumbled and defective.
Still not happy, but I do enjoy troubleshooting. All of this has a strange déjà vu to it.
I admit it. I have an addiction. I am addicted to sleep. Seriously addicted to sleep. Allow me to explain …
Once I’m up and going, I am fine. I love my work; love doing things on the weekend. I’m generally a go-getter. At work I am a high achiever. I am driven to achieve excellence. In fact, my last performance review had me down as excellent … pretty much the highest you can go without being president of the company. I am also a perfectionist. As Rooster Cogburn would say “no brag just fact”. Did I mention I was modest? Weird Al Yankovic has a song called I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead. That’s me when I’m awake.
This summer I suffered from a bout of insomnia. Probably self-induced because when I’m doing things I really don’t want to go to bed. But once I finally fall asleep that is another story altogether.
How can I explain? Have you ever been addicted to downers of any kind, opiates, heroin, etc.? Have you ever suffered from mind-numbing pain and then suddenly it went away? Have you ever been anxious or worried or fidgety and suddenly you felt calm? No worries no anxiety no pain just sweet bliss. That perfect state … pain-free, worry-free, anxiety-free, comfortable, mellow, tranquil. That is how I feel when I’m asleep. Once I am asleep I don’t want to get up … EVER … and I have the as ability to go right back to sleep once I wake up. Hell, I can even get up and do chores and go right back to sleep. (As long as I’m not up too long or get some kind of adrenaline rush)
For me sleep is that perfect escape where everything is wonderful and tranquil and calm or in some cases adventurous and exciting. I have really interesting dreams. Some repeat with regular frequency. Others are new and entirely different. I do of course have the occasional erotic dream but most of my dreams are fairly mundane. Some are mysteries, some are adventure stories. Some are just day-to-day life, but usually with some bizarre twist. I never have nightmares. As a child I learned to control my dreams. If things got bad I could change the outcome. I get shot … no no, that will never do. Rewind. Let’s do that scene again.
One of my bucket-list items is to be able to sleep as long as I want until I finally have had enough. Over my birthday I took some time off and my wife let me sleep pretty much all day. Like 18-20 hrs. You might think that would be enough but it wasn’t. The only reason I got up was that stuff needed to be done that my wife wasn’t able to do.
One theory of dreams is that they are the movie that the mind plays to keep you occupied while it sorts through your memories saves them and files them. I tend to think of dreams as the screensaver that plays while your brain defrags itself. Defraging a computer hard drive takes more time as a function of the amount of data stored on the hard drive and the amount of empty space available on the hard drive. If my brain were a computer hard drive it must be very full and running out of space.
Maybe it’s stress. I will admit that this has been a fairly stressful year for a variety of reasons.
Maybe it’s depression. Not the “My life really and truly is a living hell and there is nothing I can do to change it” kind of depression. Rather the “chemical imbalance in the neurons of the brain” kind of depression. Serotonin and norepinephrine. Perhaps associated with the aging process. I’m already on an SNRI (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor) originally prescribed for the symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy. But it turned out to be due to spinal nerve damage due to hereditary spinal stenosis and arthritic vertebral bone spurs. TMI? Surgery, exercise, and NSAIDs mostly solved that, but when I weaned myself off my wife said to go back on because I got very short tempered. I call them my “being able to deal with stupid people” pills. Maybe I need a higher strength. As the old Dupont motto used to say … “better living through chemistry.”
Goodness look at the time … almost 1 AM … and tomorrow is a work day. No sleeping in for me.
Gotta go …