Sunday, September 19, 2021

AGING AGGRAVATIONS -- "YES" AMERICA -- SCAMS

Life's little annoyances take on increasing aggravation with each year I become older and need to adjust to unwelcome physical limitations.  Perhaps some of you have found this to be true for yourself as well.

Unexpected, unusual household problems arise I've noticed ever since I've been on my own in this house, dedicated to living in place rather than in a retirement facility.  The most recent problem was the other day when I was retrieving my mail.  I discovered my mailbox detached on one side causing that box to hang down haphazardly.   That never happened before when my husband was living.  Time to search for a needed screw, but ultimately I had to drag out the hammer.  Resolving some problems easier said than done.

Would that all of the problems that come up could be so readily resolved, even if I couldn't find a screw and had to settle on a nail.  Hope that new nail instead of a screw holds the box well.  Perhaps the smooth nail will more readily loosen than a screw would.  

If that wasn't enough, I had to re-install the screw on the other side of the box, too, which suddenly released causing me to nearly drop the whole box as I was affixing the first side -- also, almost throwing me off balance to tumble down.  So far, I think I've successfully anchored the mailbox, but for how long?  Time will tell since the postal person likely won't be handling my mailbox gingerly when opening each day.

I chuckled to myself later thinking how this event could have resulted in another one of those weird insurance company descriptions they sometimes report as reasons for life insurance payout claims.  Perhaps the account would read like one of the following:

"Claimant's death attributed to fall, striking head on edge of concrete entry way while attempting to re-hang mailbox."   

"Claimant died when struck in the head by mailbox she was trying to re-hang."  

"Claimant died when falling on hammer handle that impaled her open mouth and throat throttling her."

Can you come up with a more bizarre one?

* * *

Democracy survives assault ..... California's 286 million dollar wasteful expenditure of our tax monies the squandering Republican political party foisted on our citizens with the recent attempted special recall election of our Governor Gavin Newsom was unsuccessful by a large margin.  He'll be up for re-election when his regular term ends next year -- a regular election for which they should have waited.  

Thanking supporters voting "No" to recall Newsom, he focused on what this election really said "Yes" to as a state since the re-callers were mostly anti these items as reported in his speech in "The Week" magazine: 

We Californians said "Yes" to:

"science...vaccines...ending this pandemic.* 

"people's right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.

"women's fundamental, constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body, her fate, her future.

"diversity, inclusion, pluralism.

"to all those things that we hold dear as Californians, and I would argue as Americans."

Newsom continued "Economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, our values where California has made so much progress.  All of those things were on this ballot.

He said voters rejected "division, the cynicism, so much of the negativity that's defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years."

Newsom called on Californians to "disregard false separateness" and remember "we have so much more in common" than "we give ourselves credit for."

Correcting our state's recall election process may require three changes, I think.  One will be to increase the number of required signatures necessary to initiate a recall election.  

A second change would negate allowing a candidate receiving a percentage of votes far less than the combined majority from becoming our Governor as currently could occur if the majority voted to recall our Governor.  (This problem described in my previous post.)   

The expected solution will also be to designate the lieutenant governor, who is ordinarily the second in command of California's executive offices, to assume the top office in the event of future governors being recalled.

* * *

Phone Scams ..... I stopped answering my phone for quite some time but recently have resumed answering a few calls for various reasons.  I notice most calls are recorded messages which I hang up on after the first couple words.  Then, there are those ever-present scams.  Here are a few of the most recent scams I've received.

One scam was a recorded message that I've received several times seemingly from different locations or numbers.   The caller claims to be from Amazon's customer service alerting me to a thousand dollar plus charge against my account (assumes I have one, I guess).  I ended the call at that point.  Additional phony information is given in the rest of their message, followed by instructions to follow in order to address the matter as I recall listening to months ago when I received the first call. 

Another scam was with a real live person.  He said he was a neighbor living up the street and gave a house number where he said he lived (I was pretty sure that number was non-existent, plus would have been down the street from where I lived, not up the street).  He added that he and son had painted my neighbor's house across the street which I did recall actually being done and said I had talked to him then.  I said I didn't recall such a conversation.

He elaborated, saying I had talked to him and to call later in the year.  Again, I said I didn't remember such a conversation.  He said in a cajoling manner, that I talked to him of having my house trim painted, that he had even given me a flyer.  I said, I never talked to anybody about painting the trim on my house.  He said nothing and abruptly hung up.  (Note:  my neighbors reported to me later their handyman, not this caller, painted their house.)

I wonder if this type scammer may focus on older people they think may have memory problems,  possibly even have dementia, who will also be polite, and maybe succumb to their friendly overture?

A third scam I just remembered was the phone call from a young-sounding male voice greeting me with "Hi, Grandma!".  I ended the call without responding as I always do since they've been coming periodically for several years.  One earlier call was "Hi Grandpa" thinking I was male, I guess.

I recall my hairdresser years ago, shortly after I received my first "Grandma" call, telling me about customers she characterized as intelligent as having fallen for this scam.  They had even rejected their bank teller's admonitions to not send money without further checking.  They persisted in withdrawing a large sum anyway, subsequently sending their unretrievable money to the scammer.  

Additional "stranger" calls come from contractors, solicitors wanting all sorts of donations, other commercial types.  I simply don't do business with any phone callers though some few may be legitimate.  I don't waste my time listening to familiar pitches, am not polite, and simply interrupt them by cutting them off.  My fantasy would be to eliminate all these scam calls and calls from strangers.   

I'm sometimes hard-pressed to view the benefits of some technologies as outweighing the negatives, but once they're in use, there's no going back.   Guess I'll return to not answering my phone again unless I recognize the number. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

REMEMBERING 9/11 TWENTY YEARS LATER

You may read my recollection of 9/11 written ten years after that momentous day by clicking on the link below.   I was not blogging in 2001.  (Also, to read history of 9/11 click here.)

https://joared-along.blogspot.com/2011/09/911-remembered-10-years-later.html

Comments written then triggered still strongly felt reactions from readers though a decade had passed.  

This 20 year anniversary of such a tragedy continues to elicit from me only slightly tempered emotional feelings as I've felt on 9/11 every year since 2001.   

I had no loved ones, friends, acquaintances, whose lives were taken, but like so many across this nation, around the world, we didn't know what was happening ... what might happen ... where ... when ... who ... why?    

Reliving the experience I wrote about, I again felt the increasing anxiety I felt then about what was occurring as I was viewing on television events unfold in real time that morning.  I was simultaneously speaking on the phone with my daughter in Virginia as the east coast atrocity came to the Pentagon, much closer to her.  Was my son and family safe in middle America?   What about family who I learned later could actually view the Twin Towers out their window?   At some point it even crossed my mind to wonder if we were safe on the west coast?

Like many, I never imagined such an attack could or would ever occur on our shores.  I had been a mere child on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, (click to read event history), the day that has lived in infamy, so did not fully grasp the significance of that event at the time, unlike 9/11 when I was an adult.   

Also, on the Hawaii attack we did not have the immediacy of visual television news capturing the real time tragedies as occurred on 9/11.   Radio broadcasts, newspapers were dominant news sources.  I think most of us have wanted to believe that our shores would never again be subjected to such a foreign attack.  9/11 proved we were wrong.  

Domestic terrorism as we experienced January 6th is what we are subjected to today.  We cannot rule out foreign forces will continue to be of concern.   Our democratic republic is under assault but largely from within.  Truth has been trampled as leaders have let the American people down.  

We have ceased to be united as a people despite our differences, unlike how we were after December 7th, then for a short time after 9/11 before actions taken then went askew.  There is a truth to the saying, "United we stand, divided we fall."  We are long overdue for putting our country over political party. 

May we preserve our nation intact with a government as prescribed by our Constitution, not led by a one person leader who perceives and promotes himself as omniscient, God-like.    

Meanwhile, we remember 9/11, the lives of those taken from us, honor the national heroes who rendered aid.  
 
May we never ever have to experience any tragedy even remotely like this again.  

Sunday, September 05, 2021

HUMAN SNAFUS AID INTERNET GREMLINS

Thanks to my son for revealing internet gremlins were once again up to their tricks preventing me from publishing my usual weekly commentary, so that you wouldn't think I was sick or died.   His doing so bodes well that he will notify you of my demise when eventually the time comes as we bloggers have said we wish each of us could arrange for someone to do.

My internet connection was lost a few days after my last post here.  Following a reasonable amount of time with my inability to access the internet, I decided the connection was not going to resume.  Referring to my provider's monthly statement for a phone number to report problems, I mainly saw admonitions to use the internet for any issues.  In contrast, I noted a prominent large print phone number to call about where and how to pay my bill, but much less apparent was the miniscule-sized print phone number for customer service I didn't note until much later.  I first tried another number there, though there was none designated specifically for technical internet problems.

Thus, began what became a deteriorating circus of events that included a comedy of errors from what presumably must have been individuals well-meaning, sometimes misguided, maybe incompetent, efforts to resolve my internet service loss.

What information each of the numerous individuals with whom I had contact had and could, or should, have readily accessed I don't know.  What I do know is many seemed to not know the history of my problem from the facts of each of numerous previous calls I was making.   With each call, what do they record on my account besides the date, time, and "has internet" or doesn't -- assuming they do that?   I discovered what little they seemed to know if I got a real live person, occurred when they uttered enlightened "aha" type verbal reactions after it became clear in each call that I must describe the situation all again.  

My initial calls were mostly listening to recorded messages and talking to some voiced, some not, robots.  The first call warned me an unusual number of calls was being received so I would have a long-g-g wait.  After an hour I disconnected and found a different number I thought might work.  I ended that call after half an hour without talking to any real person.   I tried pressing "O" for Operator to seek a real thinking person but I reached no one.

Finally, discovering the small print customer service number, I reached a person after only a five-minute wait.  Eventually, his "aha" moment came when he decided further checking was in order after I short-circuited his usual tech routine.   He discovered "over 50% of the 23 people in your box reported problems, too"!  He observed this possibly means my lack of internet connection is probably "an outside box problem", rather than inside my house.  He volunteered I would receive credit for my time without the internet.  The earliest a technician would come to my house he said, was Friday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Later, I unexpectedly received a recorded phone call giving me a service ticket number that sounded like they must have lots more people with outages if this was my area:  "xxx hundred million, xxx hundred thousand and x hundred" was my number.  

I was content all was in order until Friday after 5 p.m. when I still had no internet, no technician had arrived, and I had received no phone notification about the status of my service.  My call to the phone company garnered a recorded message they were still working on the problem and would let me know the resolution.

Saturday, 11 a.m., I phoned again to receive another recorded message, still no internet restoration and they were not predicting a time when there would be a resolution.  (I learned days later this was untrue as the problem had been resolved Friday, but apparently not for me.)  

Periodically, every day I also checked my computer and/or modem but no internet connection.  Saturday, Sunday ran into Monday morning 1 a.m. wee hours when I started thinking about changing internet providers.  I decided to call my provider once again, reached a technician that from past experience sounded to be coming from India.  Once again, the conversation devolved to the point I knew I would have to again explain the whole story.   When I ended my convoluted tale, the tech concluded he needed to do some further checking.

Soon, the tech totally surprised me by saying the internet connection had been restored.  Since I didn't have a connection,  he said I definitely needed a new modem, though there was no mention further technical checking might be needed. The tech said he would have a new modem sent to me by UPS to arrive Wednesday. 9/1 which I would need to install myself.

I had never been notified of the internet restoration as the recorded messages said they would.  I asked when the internet connection occurred and was told 8/27 (Fri.).  I don't know if the tech came that Friday and didn't bother to make certain I was connected by checking with me, because I was home all afternoon, or what occurred.   He could have and should have provided a modem at that time if that was necessary, from my point of view.  

Frankly, my patience had long since worn thin.  I was now well beyond being annoyed,  having become angry at not being told of the internet restoration days earlier.  Now I was having to wait until Wednesday for a new modem.  At that point, I demanded a tech bring me a new modem and install it the next day (forgetting it was no longer Sunday, but 1 a.m. Monday now).  

The technician insisted he could not schedule the other tech to come Monday but would have to be Tues.  to which I finally agreed between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. -- almost one week since I had been disconnected from the internet and four days after service had resumed -- but not to me.

Meanwhile, I had a troubled night trying to get to sleep, though I wasn't aware of fretting about this.  It was late (early morning) when I went to bed.  Just as I was finally about to fall asleep at 5 a.m. my phone rang.  I answered unbelievably to a recording from my phone company/internet provider "reminding" me I needed to be home for their service man Tuesday and the time.  What an inconsiderate time of day for such a call!

The recorded reminder call's only instruction to confirm the message was received was if I now had the internet that I should cancel the appointment by pressing the number 1 key on my phone.   There was a long period of silence, so I finally ended the call.  A few minutes later, the phone rang again -- same recording, same message, I hung up the phone as before.  Thank heavens the robot didn't call again.

Nevertheless, I didn't get to sleep so I finally just got up, decided to proceed with my morning.  While I was in the bathroom, the phone rang again.   I could hear what was becoming a very long message being recorded on my answering machine, but the words were too feint to be intelligible at that distance. 

Later, I listened to the never-ending same message recorded, repeating over, and over again on my answering machine.  The message was the same as the early morning one but with extra instructions this time, to press the pound key or to just hang up to end the call.   Surprisingly, after all those repetitive messages ended, an additional one was an actual apology for all the repeat messages.  An intelligent robot?

Tuesday arrived, but at 4 p.m. when I still hadn't heard from the scheduled tech, with only an hour to go in the 5 p.m. window of my home service time,  I decided to call my provider before their office hours closed to see if, and when the tech was coming.  Good thing I did!

The woman to whom I spoke contacted him.  Seems he texted my landline phone, got no response -- of course! -- since he overlooked landlines don't take text messages -- so he didn't come.  This company provides my landline phone service -- shouldn't the tech know?  After my rather irate elaboration that a tech person should know better than to text, and once again, describing my experience to date, the now  understanding woman transferred my call to a techie.  

The intelligent young-sounding woman technician to whom I was referred resolved my problem in no time.  I did again have to describe my experience.  She then had me check out my modem, made some adjustments on her end, and voila!  I was connected to the internet.  I didn't even need a new modem or further tech service here at home.

Perhaps the moral of this story for me is, don't contact after-hours techies.  Only report a technical problem to regular hours staff and technicians.  

My internet connection successfully restored, I decided to just wait and publish this latest epistle at my usual weekly time.  I feel better.  Thanks for "listening".

Moving on to a truly important matter in this world . . .

--- the U.S. military has departed from Afghanistan, finally ending our longest war.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Pardon the interruption

Dear Readers,

Alas, Joared's next post will have to wait. Her internet service went out a couple days ago and the provider is not yet providing an estimate on when it will be repaired. She'll return to her (ir)regular publishing schedule as soon as the internet gremlins are dismissed.

Cheers,

Son of Joared

Sunday, August 22, 2021

ANNOYING WORDS & ACTIONS -- POLITICS FUN & GAMES

ANNOYING WORDS

In the scheme of life this topic matters little, but I keep getting annoyed every time I hear the word "jabbed" used to describe people getting the vaccination combatting this world sweeping pandemic.  I don't know why this word used for this purpose grates on me, but I find "injection" or even "shot" (though, come to think of it, shot can have a worse meaning) much less objectionable.

Maybe "jabbed" in my mind suggests just a careless imprecise sticking of someone with any ol' object, anywhere, in which case who would want a vaccination -- I wouldn't.   But I don't mind getting a shot?   Go figure!

Are there words that just automatically trigger a negative reaction aggravating you when you hear them used?

ANNOYING ACTIONS -- be forewarned of political commentary

Writing of jabs and annoyance, I might add I'm more than a little annoyed that my and others tax money here in California is being squandered to the tune of $276 million.   We're having to foot the bill for a special election to recall our Governor Newsom that I consider to be purely politically motivated.   Do you think there just might be better ways to spend that sum?  I do!

I don't question there are issues with actions our Governor has taken with which some Californians have not agreed.  I do not believe they have risen to the level warranting this recall vote, however.   This is especially evident when compared to the gross actions the previous U.S. President of that major political party's monied supporters promoting this recall consistently tolerated by denial and turning a blind eye -- they still do.

We California citizens are basically paying for a pre-primary election for the Republican Party prior to our future regular election, November 2022.  They view this recall election as an exercise to come up with a viable candidate to offer next year, as described by a writer with a newspaper that endorsed one of that Party's candidates for this recall election.  (Note: I'm not registered with any political party.)

If this recall is successful, we're really only shortening our current Democratic Party governor's term by one (1) year!  There is no justifiable reason in my view for not waiting for the regular election in 2022 to determine if we want him as governor, when we can reject or re-elect him at that time.  

My ballot arrived in the mail this past week offering me the choice of two actions.  The first choice is, do I want to recall our Governor -- "Yes" or "No".  The second action is to select who should replace him from the 46 listed candidates if he is recalled.  That's right -- 46 candidates!   (24 Republicans, 9 Democrats, 9 No Party Preference, 2 Green Party, 1 Libertarian, Write-Ins of unknown number, if any)

Our current Governor must receive a majority, 50% or more, of the votes saying "NO" we don't want to recall him in order to stay in office the last year of his elected 4 year term.

Here's the scary part -- if the voters recall him, the candidate who has the most votes will become our replacement governor.  The votes for all the other candidates may total more than the winning candidate but that won't matter.  

What kind of representative of the electorate would that person be?  This is how political nutsos (technical term) receiving only a meager number of votes can be elected to office!  That, and occasionally via the Electoral College less-in-number votes taking precedent over the larger majority popular votes.  The latter has taken place twice in recent years with disastrous consequences -- Iraq War, Capitol Insurrection.  

Reading the resume' of most of these candidates reveals qualifications that hardly prepare them to be our state's governor.  One or more candidates might realistically be considered as endorsement fodder by the Republican or Democratic Party come our regular election, but many other candidates might not be judged realistic prospects  for political offices in their own communities whether  the office of mayor, treasurer of a local club, or dog catcher.  

Of course, there is that woman who is simply described as "Entertainer", or more precisely, "Billboard Queen, Icon. Experienced politician."  She has a P.O. Box in Beverly Hills so what further qualifications or endorsements does she need?  (No Party Preference)

Hopefully, the majority of my fellow Californians will mark their ballot, "NO" we do not want to recall our current Governor.  Let him serve out his four-year term, then we'll decide whether to re-elect him or not.

Our current Governor Newsom is telling those who support him to vote "NO" on the recall, but not vote for a candidate.  I haven't heard him explain why not vote for a candidate.   He cannot be written in either as the vote won't be viable.   I guess he is optimistic that he will not be recalled.

Perhaps he does not want the primary opposition Republican Party to have the benefit of learning the voting strength of any of his Democratic Party's candidates, but especially which of their own candidates might attract the most votes in 2022.  So far, the most prominent Republican candidates agree on the major issues, with which I don't agree, despite whatever lesser issues they disagree on with each other.

Frankly, I'm not inclined to want to make the Republican Party's formulating their 2022 election ticket any easier for them either. I don't trust a political party whose actions have demonstrated efforts to undermine our democratic republic.  This gives me little confidence in whether most of their candidates would protect our freedoms -- a troubling perspective I never imagined their actions would cause me to form of that Party. 

I have mixed feelings about not selecting a candidate, since not only do I resent my tax money paying for this recall election, I am angry about being used by the Republican Party in this manner -- an abuse of the political process and all taxpayers.    Just when I think they couldn't ethically sink any lower  earning my respect for them, they keep managing to go deeper at every governmental level into the national cesspool they seem to have created.

What I think also, is, if by some fluke the recall vote succeeds, do I want to take a chance on who the candidate receiving the most votes will be?   No doubt the Republicans will come out to vote in full force, but if I don't select a candidate, do I want to risk their possibly choosing the most unacceptable to me of their candidates?

Their voter track record for quality candidate selection isn't too good as I recall the last time they put one of their own in the White House as a prime example.  Too many of the Republican Party members appear to continue to bend, bow and kowtow following this now ex-President's much less than noble, unethical example garnering votes with total disregard for facts and truth coupled with their promoting often  ridiculous, even dangerous conspiracy theories.

In addition to voting "NO" on the recall, I must decide whether to vote for a specific candidate, then vote by September 14th.  


Sunday, August 15, 2021

LIFE IN "L.A. L.A." LAND -- FAMILY HEALTH TALK

Let's see what's been going on with me here in SoCal.   Our town in northeast L.A. County has seen an increase of 59 corona virus infections.  Data was unclear whether there has also been one new death.  

I felt kinda funky toward the end of the previous week, eventually pondering what I was experiencing.  Some of my symptoms I associated with occurring earlier in the season, possibly allergies, but not usually this late in the summer.   Reviewing Delta+ symptoms I was reminded that for those like me who had received one of the 2-shot vaccinations, we could contract the virus, that the symptoms are often quite mild and similar to those with allergies.

I recalled my daughter's recent frustration that a team member where she's employed who exposed co-workers for two weeks when she felt ill because she didn't think she could have the virus and hadn't gotten tested.  My daughter has kept wearing her mask those days when she"s had to go into the office from working remotely so, fortunately, seems to have been protected from becoming infected.  

I finally checked the internet which revealed nearby, 10-15 minutes away, L.A. County Fairplex -- fairgrounds where immigrating children bused in from Texas after illegally crossing the Mexico/U.S. border are being temporarily held and processed -- was offering drive through Covid testing with or without an appointment.   So, I decided to take my first test that Friday afternoon.

There was no long line of cars in any queue allowing me almost immediate access to taking the long Q-tip-type self-administered nasal test.  A young lady handed me the items in a plastic bag as she gave me verbal how-to instructions, then observed my actions.   I carefully removed the Q-tip from its packaging, then inserted the Q-tip in each nostril.  I only coughed slightly at the end of each nostril's insertion.  After readily completing the process, I followed her direction to place the Q-tip in the bag and deposit in the container there.  This whole experience took only a few painless minutes.

This UCLA video shows what the nasal insertion was like at my L.A. County drive through.

I was told I would receive the results in 24 hours which might have occurred had I tested positive.  Others who have taken Covid tests said they were told results reporting would take longer, so I didn't fret.

I did call a County phone line Tuesday of the following week.  They returned my call that day stating my Covid test results were negative, indicating I did not have the viral infection just as I had tended to believe.  I was glad to know for sure though -- if I hadn't taken the test, why subject myself to periodic wondering thoughts, and I could ease the minds of my children who live miles away across the country. 

I had told my children of my symptoms and plans to take the test so didn't want them to worry.  As I've aged, my children have requested I keep them informed of my various health symptoms and actions before the fact when possible, rather than wait until after the fact reporting, lest matters might not go as well as I expected.  

My ability to communicate to them could be hampered in some scenarios, so there's less possibility of unexpected surprises for them which they don't want -- such as years ago when I finally called 911 a couple times since living alone and spent a long night in the E.R. one time and overnight in the hospital another time but didn't tell them until after I was home again.

This time my symptoms continuing and even worsening, but with no temperature, convinced me that maybe I better start an antihistamine treatment.  I was outside some these past days, but not for long periods of time.  I had noted in TV weather reports smoke from Northern California's massive forest fire that had been going east across the country as far as NYC had finally spread south our way.  Perhaps, this is what had aggravated my head, sinuses and more though I hadn't noticed smoke in the sky.

This Saturday as I write this, I looked north out my kitchen window at the front of my house toward the mountains.  Where are those peaks, I wondered?  Only the closest immediate line of peaks are visible now with the horizon behind them a grubby-white looking solid blanket of thickened smoke as far as my eyes could see, completely hiding the rest of the mountains.  I'll certainly be staying indoors as much as possible in the days ahead.   I may need to change my AC blower filter sooner than usual.  

Are any of you subjected to smoke from this fire or other fires where you live, though some may be coping with other environmental challenges like floods, mud slides, tropical storms, sink holes, earthquakes?

Do you have access to drive through Covid testing, especially if walk-ins are more challenging for you?

I wonder about the experience others may have had with Covid testing, or if any have been tested to see if antibodies in their blood which indicate they've been infected, maybe didn't even know they'd had the virus?

I also wonder about the communication arrangements others have about their health symptoms and activities with their adult children, especially if they don't live nearby?

Sunday, August 08, 2021

MIND READING -- PROTECTING OUR RIGHTS

One of my favored blogs I've previously mentioned is "Cop Car's Beat" (her cat's name).  She mixes in some humor with accounts of her daily life, including gardening, primarily directed toward her family and friends. 

She occasionally highlights some really thought-provoking items she's ferreted from sites with which I've not been familiar.  Her background and work before retiring has been fascinating which I won't go into other than to say she has flown around quite a bit, then later she and her husband individually devoted themselves to helping others including in times of disaster.

One of her most recent posts captured my attention which she introduced for "Neuro Nerds" and prefaced with ...

"We better get on this or all sorts of things will occur automatically and we may or may not be alerted in a timely way to opt out if we're even given the choice."

The Slashdot article she briefly discusses notes that science has scanners now...

 "...making manipulation of the human mind increasingly possible, creating a need for laws and protections to regulate use of the new tools, top neurologists said."

"If you can record and change neurons, you can in principle read and write the minds of people."

"This is not science fiction.  We are doing this in lab animals."

This rather lengthy video is Dr. Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at New York's Columbia University discussing some of his research relative to this topic and AI (Artificial Intelligence):

Dr. Yuste said in a Reuters article:

"Usually people only start talking about ethics and regulations after a big scandal, but with neurotech I hope we can take on these questions before that scandal".

"Yuste introduced the NeuroRights Initiative, which advocates five "neuro-rights" to protect how a person's brain data is accessed and used, including a right to mental privacy and to free will."

Seems incredible to me now that mind reading is even possible, but Yuste describes the current scientific environment as being like "the Wild West".   These are a couple cautionary views with more perspectives in the Reuters article:

"Ienca at ETH Zurich said major ethical issues could arise if the data commercial neurotech devices collect is widely shared and analyzed without proper safeguards, he said.

"We already have digital biomarkers that can indicate if someone is predisposed to developing dementia.  Let's say (that) data is shared with a prospective employer, you could face discrimination on the job market," he said."

"In Chile, senate member Guido Girardi favors strict regulation.  "We didn't regulate the big social media and internet platforms in time, and it costs us.  We have lost control of all kinds of data, from our location to our romantic interests -- it's all up for sale," he said."

"If we allow for all this brain data to be taken, who knows what the consequences will be?  We'll have algorithms deciding what it means to be 'happy'," Girardi said".

We should be concerned.   Now is the time for action -- expecting and supporting our scientists to ensure criteria are established, determining what regulations may be needed and followed to protect the individual.   Does privacy matter?

What are your thoughts on the potential of mind reading and the need to establish individual rights now to protect our brains, those of our children and grandchildren from future manipulation?


Sunday, August 01, 2021

"TIME GOES BY" DRAMA -- CAFE' NOIR -- OBNOXIOUS

"TIME GOES BY" DRAMA

"Time Goes By" (TGB) blog with past content appears to presently continue being available on the Internet hosted by TypePad with this URL:  https://www.timegoesby.net/ as Ronni wrote here.  We can thank another blogger at "Cop Car's Beat" (her cat's name) for her research locating Ronni'sTGB post quote regarding her blog :  

"Arrangements are being made for this blog to remain just where it is online for at least five years after I've died.  If anything is different, my friend Autumn, who is handling everything following my death, will let you know via this blog.  So, when she posts information, it will show up in your email subscription just as you receive it now."

TGB readers who do not have blogs recently contacted me when they received notification of changes with the RSS feed that regularly has provided them the TGB blog.  Their effort to implement the newly provided Feed/blitz link did not work.  They have been concerned as to whether they will continue to be able to receive TGB and access those existing blog posts plus any new publications should there be any. 

In an effort to find an answer for them, I emailed questions to TGB's host TypePad but received no response; then suggested to the readers they might want to contact TypePad themselves.  One reader reported she did receive a TypePad response that this was now a host Feed/blitz issue.  These TGB blog readers questions remain unresolved as I write this, to the best of my knowledge.  

For whatever the reasons,  Autumn has to date not written any further posts on TGB since  December 2020 when she said she intended to continue the blog.   The blogger at "The Awkward Widow" recently reported:  "She [Autumn] is not going to post", concluding TGB "...is dead."

We cannot always control that our specified wishes will be carried out after we die despite our best efforts as the Awkward Widow notes.   I might add,  there may even be occasional instances when individuals have written, signed, documented forms specifying health care wishes that may later be contradicted by family with the medical provider, so there are no guarantees even before death either, in my experience.  

If, for some reason Autumn is unable to write a post on TGB where all comments are now also closed, and there is no active contact email address there, I wish she would contact any one of numerous TGB blogger commenters, or me -- that she would write a statement with as much or as little specifics as she might choose to share regarding TGB's publication, especially the blog's subscription feeds and her intent to continue the blog, or not.  

I, or a blog commenter she might choose, would welcome the opportunity to publish on our blog such official information from Autumn which I believe TGB's followers deserve to know and Ronni would expect at the very least -- some final resolution directly from Autumn regarding TGB's future, not simply ignoring the blog's followers.

Will TGB have a new editor writing blog posts?

Will TGB existing content continue to be on the Internet with TypePad hosting the current URL?  

Will TGB'S existing and/or any new content continue to be fed to subscribers by Feed/blitz, including to those readers who don't have blogs?

I would like to add, I see no useful purpose in speculating further about Autumn's plans, or why she has handled the matter as she has.  She wrote she was only a child when she first knew Ronni who was then an adult and their close relationship developed from that point forward -- I think, maybe being family-like.  

I continue to feel sympathy for Autumn's loss and whatever challenges emotionally and otherwise she may be experiencing resolving Ronni's estate.  Some of us can even act a bit flaky, or appear to be so, after the death of someone for whom we care very much -- sometimes for quite a long period of time after that person is gone from this earth that others may not understand and even we may not about ourselves.

CAFE ' NOIR

Well, I did it!  I finally retired my large but old automatic coffee maker.  I purchased a single cup automatic coffee maker producing from 8 to 14 ounces of my cafe' noir from whatever my favored grind.  Unfortunately,  for me, that is generally decaf, unlike many years of my drinking lots of caffeinated coffee and espresso, but this is much more conveniently in line with my coffee drinking habits now.   I can vary the strength, adjust the amount from cup to travel mug.  I don't use those limiting expensive little prepared cups used with some coffee makers.

I won't share the product brand since my blog policy, like Ronni Bennett's "Time Goes By" policy,  does not provide free advertising or promotion for commercial products.  If a reader ever wants to know about anything I mention on this blog, I'll share such information in response to a private email that can be sent to the address in the upper ride hand corner of this screen page.

OBNOXIOUS

Nothing ensures with more certainty that I will NEVER conduct business with an individual, company, or organization than if they ignore or fail to remove me from their email or any other mailing lists, including postal service mail, if I request them to do so, as has occurred with regular letters from one such advertiser.   Another obnoxious company, but on the internet,  said I could unsubscribe but when I submitted such a request, ultimately more than once,  instead they bombarded my email with multiple emails every day for weeks to months, finally reducing it now to only one email almost every day though I've never responded to any -- and I NEVER WILL!

Comments here on any or all of the above topics are always welcome.   Those attempting to sneakily seek free advertising or promotion in comments with links, often with no relation to any blog content, can be assured their comment will never see the light of day on this blog and will instead be screened out, sent directly to spam, even permanently blocked.


 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

LIFE IN SO CAL INFUSED WITH DRAMATIC MEMORIES

Let's take a look at what's going on in my neck of the woods -- Southern California, sometimes referred to as SoCal.  Then, we'll briefly move across the pond which has prompted a personal memory of my modest, rather inconsequential but thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally hammy in dramatic terms,  life.

Pandemically speaking, Delta+ infections, especially among the unvaccinated and younger people, soar in Los Angeles County,  as reported in our local newspaper, Claremont Courier, by reporter Steven Felschundneff.  "The vaccination rate has stalled at 64% of the eligible population" in our town, he reports. 

I continue to mask whenever I go out, even to drive thrus and for pickups as I had been doing, even when that requirement had been relaxed.  Frankly, I don't see the situation changing anytime soon and current news reports suggest October may see a peak.  But this virus and variants wickedly change so I recommend you regularly check reliable news health sources you have both nationally, as with  Dr. Fauci, M.D., NIAID (National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases) Director, I respect, and your local sources.  

***Late insert:   I just read this from my daughter:   "Very frustrating and unsettling when your unvaccinated teammate comes to work sick and apparently has been for the past 2 weeks, then doesn’t bother to take a covid test because they think they couldn’t possibly have covid and then tests positive for covid thereby exposing the entire team plus surely countless others."

She has been vaccinated and has continued to mask when her employer required the team start coming back into the office a couple days a week which none of them wanted to do. Their work remotely has been as productive or even more so during the time they've worked remotely and there is no reason why they could not continue doing so. Now, of course, she will have to be home for two weeks. Hopefully, remote working for the team will resume at the end of that time. I don't know if the ill person has been unvaccinated, or not, but they certainly are creating problems for all as well as themselves.

Back to My So Cal up date.....We're experiencing increased drought conditions this year.  Recently we've been asked to voluntarily reduce our water usage by 15%.  Avoiding cutbacks or complete loss of power has resulted in the electric utility company requesting periods when we limit our use of appliances and other electronic devices during certain daily hours.

We're sometimes asked throughout the year to not use our fireplaces burning wood if air pollution issues are of increased concern.  But that's another matter relative to our environment, air quality, to which smoke from any forest fires would also contribute.

Temperatures have been hot and higher in the three digits more frequently this year than previous years.  Fire risk is elevated in our mountainside forests exacerbated by dry undergrowth but, hopefully, all will be spared should flames arise, and homeowners won't have to evacuate, much less lose their homes, possessions, animals or even lives.

The creatures living in the mountains are feeling these climate change effects impacting their lives, food sources and comfort.  Consequently, some animals, including coyotes who have previously established packs in some towns like my own, are venturing more into our foothill neighborhood communities.  

The numbers of bears frequenting human environments in our foothill communities as they've done for years seem to have increased.  Bears have been sighted in our town again this year, probably only a mile or so from my neighborhood.  Given that my next door neighbors have a pool, plus a large community pool for subscribers in a limited area also exists at the end of our street about which I hope the bears don't find out.

Here's a short 14 sec. video of a bear taken last year in our town followed by a 2:48 min. video in another community of a mama bear and her cub cavorting in a family's pool they have been regularly visiting this summer -- after the pool is cleaned, of course.


Earlier this month the bears who generally visit primarily the night before, or in early morning hours when residents have set out at the curb their garbage cans for pick-up,  have expanded their talents.  We, in my neighborhood, have been spared that bear "raiding the garbage can" activity so far.  

As if human porch pirates of packages isn't enough, now the bears are getting in on the action.  In LaVerne, the community next to mine, a family discovered a bear had chosen one of their Amazon-delivered packages, the one full of chocolate, naturally, to take right off their front porch in this ABC7 youtube video:

Moving across the pond, more familiarly known as the Atlantic Ocean, I was intrigued earlier this spring when I read popular crime writer Agatha Christie's play, "The Mousetrap" was going to resume London performances after having been shut down due to the pandemic.  This play had been running continuously for over 60 years!

As I may have mentioned previously,  I was bitten by the acting bug whose juices have remained in my soul -- but resulted in overt expression by being in plays when I was young and single.  The juices effects subsequently dissolved into the background of my life when I worked in TV and after I married, then had children.  This occurred because, the traditional way of staging a play as I knew it required setting aside at least four weeks of my free time just for preparation, learning lines if acting, and rehearsals.  The commitment continued for however long performances to a live audience were scheduled.

I just didn't think I could do justice to a play, my children, husband, coupled with the demands of the rest of my life, retain my sanity, if I became involved in theatre.  My husband had pressures of his own so would have difficulty trying to pick up any slack for our family my being away from home so much would have caused.

Through the years I sometimes have felt nostalgia for this theatrical part of my life.  However, when I was still single, there had been a period of time when I had even seriously been debating between moving to NYC to audition for acceptance to train in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts or applying to the Pasadena Playhouse on the West Coast -- from which I still have the application form I requested but never submitted.  No doubt I am just one of many who had similar thoughts but never acted on them -- one of the differences between those who succeed in the business and those who don't.  

London's West End Theatre's "Mousetrap" re-opening announcement news triggered memories for me immediately, as I recalled those years in my mid-twenties when I was very active in amateur little theatre.  The passion I developed never left me after the very first play I was in during high school -- a drama I had strongly urged we present, "Drums of Death." In retrospect, perhaps a different type play might have been a more wise choice for our high school group and audience -- something light-hearted.  I think I still have a copy of my play book.  Perhaps I can sell it since it's now out of print, but I see one paperback being offered on the internet for $30.

When I entered college, I enrolled in an elective one hour credit course called "Stagecraft" with drama activities and plays.  These soon became my primary focus over and above all of my other coursework designed to prepare me for a career to become a Medical Technologist.  I wisely changed majors at the end of the term.

My studies the rest of my undergraduate college years included a certain number of theatre focused classes along with my extra-curricular involvement in lots of plays as well as broadcasting on our campus radio station with my music program, "Jo's Jukebox".  My last year I was thrilled to be chosen as the only female character in a live one-act play in a relatively new entertainment media then, television, on a nearby commercial TV station.  I was becoming aware of some of the potentials for a possible future career.

After graduation, returning to my native state, I enthusiastically joined a local little theatre group, Foothill Players,  which filled all my free time after work for the few years I lived in that town.  Primarily, I acted in, and/or directed plays, including a couple of Agatha Christie's -- "Witness For The Prosecution" and "The Mousetrap"; produced and directed with friends another successful, including monetarily, children's play, with an adult cast, "Winnie The Pooh".

We encountered racism initially in our effort to use the theatre stage to mount this play, "Pooh" through the Players group, to which most of us belonged, for the public but overcame that challenge.   The theatre group which has successfully grown and expanded now has since readily taken credit for our production just as they accepted the small profit we made over and above the expenses using the theatre for which we paid them, then donated our profits to them.  We had paid out of our own pockets to stage "Pooh", making our costumes thanks to a talented artistic non-member of the theatre group who hadn't been allowed to join.

"The Mousetrap" which I directed proved to be a very demanding undertaking when our leading actress had a miscarriage early in her pregnancy during the week before the play was to open.  I visited her in the hospital and in my young inexperience-in-such-aspects-of-life hardly knew what to say or do, but concerned for her welfare, wondering what to do about the play.

Our "Mousetrap" cast later gathered with other theatre leaders.  The consensus was the old show biz cliche', "the show must go on", since the publicity was out there, some tickets sold, and it was so close to opening night.  Furthermore, much to my concern and it certainly hadn't been my suggestion, all concluded I was most familiar with the play, all the characters lines, therefore I should play the lead.  I, extremely hesitant, very reluctant, finally agreed. 

I spent every free moment in the few days we had before the weekend opening, reviewing and  memorizing my character's lines with cues, especially key since there was not to be time for a rehearsal, but I knew the stage blocking, having designed that myself as director.  I had real reservations I might have to depend on off-stage prompts for some lines which in all my other acting performances I had never needed to utilize.

I'm quite sure this was one more experience greatly contributing to a skill I had reason to have to use in most every work position afterward that I describe as needing to "fly by the seat of my pants" -- unexpected situations developing to which I would generally readily adapt with relative calm while maintaining my sanity.

To my great relief the day before our play was to open our leading lady said her doctor had decided she was well enough to perform safely, if she wanted to,  that, in fact, the activity might even be good for her.   

Sitting in the audience, as I usually did during plays performances that I directed, I hoped and expected all would go well.   No reason for me to stay backstage since everybody knew what they were to do and now it was up to them to do it!  I would only be in the way -- especially if anything went awry they would need to focus all their energies on adapting with no distractions from others telling them what to do.  I did have a slight bit of apprehension that in case there was a problem with our leading lady that I better be prepared to go on stage after a short break to assume the role.  Happily, all went well!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

BULL RAISING THREATENED BY PANDEMIC

PERSONAL MEMORY OF BULL FIGHTING .....

               CULTURAL ART OR ANIMAL CRUELTY?

Bull raising is threatened in Spain I read recently in the news as this pandemic has taken a toll on many business enterprises.   The bull raising business, especially in Spain, is no exception though it has been under assault for other reasons for a number of years as has been bullfighting for which these bulls are raised.

"The most well-known form of bullfighting is Spanish-style bullfighting, practiced in Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.  The Spanish Fighting Bull is bred for its aggression and physique, and is raised free-range with little human contact.

The practice of bullfighting is controversial because of a range of concerns including animal welfare, funding, and religion.  While some forms are considered a blood sport, in some countries, for example Spain, it is defined as an art form or cultural event, and local regulations define it as a cultural event of heritage.  Bullfighting is illegal in most countries, but remains legal in most areas of Spain and Portugal, as well as in some Hispanic American countries and some parts of southern France.  (CGTN Rahul Patnak). 

This 2002 The Art of Bullfighting video (17:20 duration) best presents the bullfights ritual sequence of actions I was to see one mid-1950's afternoon.  Video commentary notes:  "Every attempt to ban bullfighting in Spain has failed.  In fact, since Spain joined the EU, it has enjoyed a renaissance as Spaniards stand up for their cultural heritage."  

 

Actually, since this video, a few Spanish cities reportedly have outlawed the practice of bullfighting.  There may have been some slight decline in bullfighting acceptance around the world in subsequent years in addition to the toll the pandemic has taken.   

PBS recently aired a special program series on writer Ernest Hemingway that I watched.  During this TV series, books he wrote about bull fighting evidenced his fascination with this activity in Spain.  He stressed bull fighting was not a sport as conventionally viewed in the United States.

I was aware of Hemingway's non-fiction book, "Death In The Afternoon", published in 1932, examining the Spanish traditions and ceremony of bullfighting.  Deeper meanings about fear and courage, life culminating in death, though the latter supposed to be only for the bull, are the focus true aficionados appreciate he noted.

His earlier novel, "The Sun Also Rises", published in 1926 portrays American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls and the bullfights.  The story is based on real people in his life.  Thought to be a lost generation after WWI Hemingway suggests they were resilient and strong.

"The Running of the Bulls occurs every July 7th-14th in Pamplona, Spain.  6 Spanish fighting bulls, along with 6 steer, run from the Corrales de Santo Domingo to Pamplona's Plaza de Toros (bullfight arena).  Over 1 million spectators watch thousands of runners over the 8 days of the San Fermin Festival.

Rick Steves, European travel authority, describes the event:

The 2021 Running of the Bulls event was cancelled for the second year in a row as reported by Reuters due to the pandemic.   The event, expected to resume in 2022, is being promoted on the Internet now for visitors to make travel bookings and accommodations reservations.

I have not been particularly interested in bullfighting so hadn't read either of Hemingway's  books though I did see the 1957 movie based on "The Sun Also Rises".  I especially recall sultry actress Ava Gardener in a leading seductress roll pursuing the bullfighter which reportedly became her reality in real life.  There was also a much less appreciated 1984-TV miniseries I didn't view of that same book that is said to not have been favorably received by critics and the viewing public.  The news item and focus on Ernest Hemingway prompted numerous thoughts and memories of my own from the mid-fifties.

My only sibling, decade older brother now deceased, made an effort to expand my horizons in various ways throughout my life.  Not all his undertaking went well such as the time he sat preschool age me on the back of his bike with me gripping his bike seat.  My little legs hung down as he rode his bike uphill toward our house.  Apparently, my legs tired and I attempted to rest my left foot somehow, but ended up entwining it in the bike wheel's spokes.  I still carry the large scar on my ankle but have no conscious memory of the event.

When I was a senior in high school my brother visited, gave me the keys to his convertible enabling me to have the rare opportunity to drive alone into town on my own one evening from our then rural home.   Then when I graduated from high school his gift to me was a couple pieces of Samsonite luggage which was perfect for moving out into the world, or college as I had hoped and he certainly encouraged.  A few years later he gifted me a necessary standard bit of jewelry accessory for any young woman's social life I was yet to experience -- a high quality simulated pearl necklace.  

So, years later when I visited him in Ecuador, one unexpected activity he introduced me to was an afternoon at a popular event in South American countries as well as Spain -- the bullfight.   The event featured an increasingly popular young bullfighter, Jaime Bravo, who was busily making a name for himself though relatively unknown then.  Bullfighting was more universally accepted during those years, partly due to Hemingway's writings describing the Spanish art form aspect of the event.

I recall visiting a local hotel an afternoon after attending the bullfight where my brother's young children were able to interact with the giant size Galapagos tortoises in the courtyard.   I heard quite a commotion inside the hotel which soon revealed itself to be fans encountering their idol, Bravo, who was staying there.

My recent research about Jaime Bravo's career revealed in his biography he led quite a colorful life, eventually groomed to be a U.S. motion picture star, actually appearing in several movies including: 

"Love Has Many Faces" (1965) with him as a matador, of course, a movie that was scandalous at the time.  "Starring Lana Turner, Cliff Robertson, Hugh O'Brian, Ruth Roman, and Stefanie Powers, the film was rife with repeated affairs...seemingly Bravo was typecast."  His voice was dubbed due to his heavy accent, though he spoke English.

"Known for his death-defying style, in the late 1960's ... Jaime Bravo was a bullfighter for many years, especially popular with the ladies and with the border town crowds.  He had the looks and the charm, if not the talent, to make it on the screen and to some producers, that's all that mattered."  Ava Gardener is said to have showered her attention on him at one of his bullfights.  Born in Mexico in 1932, he died there in a car accident in 1970.

Whatever point of view one has about bullfighting, after my viewing the afternoon spectacle, talking with others, reading about the various perspectives of bullfighting aficionados and critics, the moment when the banderillas planted their spiked end wooden sticks designed to tear muscles, nerves and blood vessels, my reactive opinion was formed.  

Then, when the bull charged the mounted padded horses with the consequences of their sharp pointed horns out of view my perspective was reinforced.  Yet later, more flesh damaging sticks were thrust into the bull's neck and shoulders.  There was never any doubt in my mind -- how could such torture and brutality be part of or considered as art -- this was animal cruelty.