Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Passwords & Life

 I finally just completed two days of struggling to regain my access to my e-mail system under Spectrum and Outlook.  Something happened to my ability to “send” e-mails from Outlook, and then it all went downhill from there. I got onto Chat with Spectrum and as we were beginning to conclude, suddenly the chat session ended, but not before a message flashed onto the screen, something about how some Spectrum technical change had caused a problem with e-mail that seemed to reflect what happened to mine. But then, I continued to have no access to my e-mail. It kept asking for my password, which I was unable to provide, because the Tekkie had changed it just before we lost contact.  When I tried to change it via their system, it kept asking me for both the new password, and my MAC ID. I looked on the Spectrum modem for the MAC ID, thought I recorded it, but that failed to work. So, then I was stuck without a valid password. Therefore, I also had no access to my e-mail.

Passwords are becoming the bane of my existence. It seems I need to change a password every time I turn around.  I had settled on a nice new one a while ago, and suddenly I was unable to use that one—it was an oldie, don’t you know.

But why do we use passwords on everything?  Well, because there are crooks all around us. Apparently America is filled with con men. Well, maybe the whole world is filled with con men, following Donald Trump’s lead.  I mean, if it’s ok for the President of the United States to be a con man, then why not everybody?

And so, we use passwords for everything. And we periodically have to change our passwords, don’t you know?  I mean, wouldn’t do to keep that same old thing, cuz the con men of the world will soon discover our passwords, and then we’re screwed.

So, get out your table of random letters and numbers folks, and get on with this password juggling game.

And speaking of con men, what is our ex-president up to lately? Well, he was asserting that he was going to be arrested on Tuesday, and he was urging his MAGAHead violence crowd to repeat their January 6th actions and protest peacefully, like they did on January 6th. But nobody else seemed to know anything about this supposed arrest. He really is amazing. He continues this game of conning the American people, urging them to do evil things, and then pretending he had nothing to do with any of it.  And his gangbangers continue to love him. I keep wondering whether this is what happens when the head of some Italian Mafia crew gets into trouble.  Does he escape the same way? Do Mafia bosses ever go to jail, or only their underlings?  Well, No, some mob bosses, Al Capone, John Gotti, Lucky Luciano all served time in Federal prisons, mostly as a result of the RICO Act.  But Trump, maybe because he served as the World’s Greatest Mob boss (President of the US), has avoided prison. He does seem to be creeping closer and closer, however.  Makes me kind of wish Alcatraz was still open.  Or maybe we should send him down to Guantanamo.  Hey that would be nice, huh?  Then his MAGAHeads would have to go down there and face the US military to spread their hate.

OK, go for it dudes.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Life and Pain

So, I awakened on a Saturday morning 1 ½ weeks ago, to a seemingly normal day.  But then as I began the day, I noticed suddenly a new pain. My left back, down by my hip, in that sciatic nerve area, suddenly began throwing pain down my leg from the hip area. Odd, I thought. It’s almost as though someone just flipped a switch. “OK, turn on the pain. It’s his turn to hurt”.  I mean, I know I’m old. 88 years is old by anyone’s definition. But, c’mon folks, I was just as old on Friday when I went to bed. What the hell is going on? I mean, I didn’t fall. I know, Falling is really bad when you’re my age. But I didn’t do that. I just went to bed and woke up with this new pain thing. Now, to be fair, On Friday, I did go to work out at the gym, as usual on Fridays. Then we went shopping at Trader Joe’s. Then what? We came home, put away the groceries and got on with our usual Friday. So I hadn’t tried to lift 400 pounds, or run on the treadmill. Nope. The workout was my usual one—ya’know, boring but a classic old dude’s workout routine.  So, maybe this is Life?  You go along normally and then one day, suddenly life is no longer “normal”.  And then what? It ends? So, this is how it ends? No, that’s crap.

OK, so now I have to go get an MRI. I went for an X-Ray, but it showed nothing beyond the fact that, yeah I’m old.  So, we will have to see what, if anything this MRI thingie shows. They tried “prescribing” some exercises for me, but they seem about as useless as teats on a boar.  See, the central problem is that the docs really did not know what was causing the problem, so they were forced to guess at some ameliorative solution.  Hopefully, after the MRI, we will have actual diagnostic data—a picture of what is actually wrong.

So, we now await that picture.  But maybe I am getting a preliminary picture of life as an old dude. Ya know. Shit happens, and then . . . well then you try to make believe nothing happened. Happily, we have some pretty fine medical practitioners at work trying to help me deduce what happened. Still, I think maybe the Old Guy has begun beckoning. We’ll see.

And in the meantime, I remain hopeful that Tucker Carlson and that Gang of thieves at The Fox Republican Mafia will continue demonstrating to the American people that, deep down, they, directed by Rupert, are actually Anti-American. Well, technically, we know Rupert is. But now we know for sure that the Foxies and all their republican friends are also ANTI-AMERICAN.  So, welcome to our new world folks.

I will yell out and about whenever I discover what is actually wrong with me. Meanwhile, I will limp along as best I can.

Monday, February 27, 2023

War & God

1934 – Hey, I am born in Brooklyn. So far as I know, there isn’t much going on in the world, i.e., no serious wars going on.  I mean that thing between 1914 and 1918 finally ceased, and it was replaced by great uncertainty, but then the 20s hit and the world started dancing and singing again.

1939 – ok, I’m now 5, not yet in school. Rudy (my dad) has begun his thing, which is to get drunk a lot and stay out for long periods. That means Daisy, the Mother, has to begin working to support us. Of course, the Germans under Hitler have begun acting out, sort of like my father, except the Germans are killing people, just cuz. Yeah, the beginnings of a second bigtime war have now begun in earnest.

1941 – OK, I’m now 7 and enrolled at PS82 in Manhattan. The Japanese drag US into the War by doing something terminally stupid—bombing Pearl Harbor. And so we got into it big time. Lots of Blackouts in Manhattan. Nothing much said in school about all the booming going on around the world. But to be fair, we weren’t getting boomed. Just everyone else. That continued until 1945 when Germans and Japanese both threw up their hands and said, “OK, we give up”.  Course, we had to drop a couple of those big nasty nuclear things on Two Japanese cities before they made that decision.

1946 – ok it’s now post World War II, and, Hey, I’m now 12. So roughly half of my kidlife so far has had killing wars going on. But now things calm down for a few years.  And then I turn 15 and North Korea, supported by China decides to invade South Korea.  And, “So What” you say. Well, after that nasty Second bigtime War. America decided it kind of liked wars, so we decided to step in and help South Korea, by sending our guys with some arms to help out.  And that went on til 1953, when I am already in college at Stanford.  And I had to register for the draft when I turned 18 in 1952. But since I am officially a college kid, I get a deferment from the draft, so I can avoid going off to get killed in some far-off place.

1954 – I’m now entering my junior year at college, and we begin to engage in Vietnam. The French had been in control throughout Vietnam, but they were never too good at the war thingie, so they just opened a nice bottle of wine and sat back, as we entered.   Then in 1955, I was entering my senior year, but my really my bigtime event is getting married in July. Yeah, but, guess what?  This War is a bit bigger than the war in Korea. So, China backed North Vietnam, and we decided to back the South.  And America becomes engaged again.  We do so love War, as does apparently almost everyone on this Planet.  I guess God decided that humans killing other Humans is just a normal thing to do, and perfectly ok with her.  But again, I am deferred from entering. First, I’m still in college, then I get married and have a kid. And then, the Biggie, I obtain a secret clearance and become involved in the development of big missiles. So, it’s almost like I’m in the military, except nobody’s shooting at me.  This shoot’m up goes on through several presidents. Dwight Eisenhower got us involved in 1954, by sending troops to train the South Vietnamese army. Then Kennedy in 1961 sent in more troops to advise, followed by Lyndon Johnson who expanded our role because he said the North had attacked one of our warships. Then Tricky Dick Nixon took over and promised to end that war, yeah right, hahahahaha.  So tricky Dick kept the war thingie going on, ensuring that we would lose more thousands of our troops.  Finally, we got the hell out, with Nixon resigning with dishonor from his post.  And, I guess if we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that this is the first War we actually lost. Well, we didn’t say that, but we just left with our tail twixt our legs. We didn't even open a nice bottle of wine like the French.

1979 – 2023 – The Middle East. Yeah that place.  For reasons I fail to properly comprehend, the Russians got themselves into a war in the Middle East, if you can count Afghanistan as “The Middle East”.  And where’s “The Middle East”? Well, I guess it’s anywhere from Pakistan westward all the way into Northern Africa. If Muslims are either in charge or at War, it’s “The Middle East”.  And then, we helped the Afghans and the Russians got their asses kicked out. But then the Middle East erupted in wars all over the place. Turns out Muslims love war even more than we do. And Israel being set up in the midst of all those armed Muslims was probably less than the World’s best idea. I guess everyone thought they would just get over it, but apparently these folks don’t get over such things. So, the bombs have kept flying ever since.

And now, I’m in my 49th 39th year of age, and I have difficulty looking back to a “peaceful age”. I wonder whether Neanderthals knew peace.  Apparently their replacement humans were born to kill.

And that is a truly sad commentary on life. Why can’t we all just get along? Evidently, if humans were truly invented by God, then she has a weird sense of humor. I mean, I doubt that Trevor Noah or Jon Stewart would have invented humans. And since comedians seem to be the smartest people on the planet, how come God didn’t just put them in charge> Are all these killing machines part of some other God’s Plan, one she hasn’t told us about?

Well, maybe God is waiting for all the killing doofuses to leave—that is idiot-malenfants like Putin and Trump and DeSantis, and MTG. Maybe God is waiting for our Great Grandkids to become a little bit more mature before she just turns everything over to them.  Too bad I won’t be around to see all that peace and kindness spreading around the world. It’s really overdue God. Can’t we accelerate the changeover a bit . . . PLEASE? Some Peace would be really nice.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Not So Great Salt Lake

I was just reading an article about the coming demise of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. It has shrunk to a shadow of its former glory, and it is threatening the entire state. Partly, it is the loss of water in one of the driest states in the nation. But partly, the residue left behind as the lake shrinks is apparently filled with potentially poisonous debris. Apparently arsenic, mercury and lead line the desiccated lake bed, and those toxins are being picked up by winds, creating clouds of polluted air that threaten all who live even remotely close to the lake. The entire state is at risk.

Exactly what a solution would look like seems unclear at the moment. Water drainage from the lake (mostly agricultural) from farmers and increasingly from the state’s growing population continues to threaten this formerly huge body of water.  Some reduction is vital, but how and when are questions not open to easy answers.

The retreat of The Great Salt Lake is sometimes compared to the drying up of Lake Owens in California, producing one the largest sources of air pollution in the country. But in fact, the Salt Lake is more akin to the loss of The Aral Sea, straddling Israel and Jordan. That sea was largely killed off by the Soviets via irrigation projects.

The main issue in Utah is the likely air pollution that may infect much of the state’s population.  Perhaps the state, and in fact the Nation may move to somehow resolve the current dangers, but, given our record, a successful solution seems unlikely. I am thinking of Climate Change of course. We have known of the need to act for at least 50 years, yet we seem incapable of useful solutions, even though those solutions are staring at us in our collective faces. The solutions to climate change, now likely beyond our grasp were available had we acted. But we didn’t. Instead, we dithered and allowed political shouting matches to substitute for serious adult actions. So, now it may well be too late.

And then, I was just reading in a newsletter called Nautilus about the possibility of humans turning into dinosaurs—remember them? Yeah, they disappeared some 60+ million years ago, due to the after-effects of a rather large meteor striking Earth. It was a pretty big dude as meteors go—several miles wide.  And No, the authors are not predicting a similar event. They are merely speculating that such an event is at least possible, given the amount of crap continually wandering about in our galaxy, and sometimes striking home.  So, they speculate that it is at least possible we might encounter a meteor akin to the one that did in the dinosaurs. If so, we would be screwed, much like the Dinies. What they are suggesting is that, unlike Climate Change where we mostly suck our thumbs and argue amongst ourselves, that we actually begin preparing for such an event, by figuring out ways to avoid it.

Now you and I will likely not be a direct part of such an effort. Much like Climate Change, and even the cataclysmic Great Salt Lake event, most of us don’t get to participate in avoidance of such things. But also, like World Wars, we can at least participate from afar. How? Well, by voting of course.

We seem to have two kinds of people in our once Great Nation—folks who read, and therefor think, and folks who prefer to allow Fox News to do their thinking.  And we all know what Fox News does to brain cells. Ugh.  So, for the folks who still consider themselves thinking creatures, regardless of which side of the political aisle you inhabit, it really is vital to become involved politically. At a minimum, register to vote. And then, when it is time, actually go to the polls and cast your vote for those persons who are more likely to be treating such issues as Climate Change, or meteor-prevention seriously. See individually, we are not big enough to have any effect. But collectively, we can act with intelligence to keep our planet reasonably healthy. But we must read, and we must think. And then we must act through our elected representatives to act collectively as an intelligent force for good.

Do it folks.  Otherwise, we might follow the Dinies. And we really do not want that. So Do It!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Dismal Times

This weather begins to make me wonder about my non-belief in a greater being up above us. It really begins to look like someone just got fed up with Humankind, and then tossed a switch to change everything about the weather, and then sat back to enjoy the resulting chaos.  We here in North Carolina have been lucky so far, having missed out on California’s Atmospheric Rivers falling from the sky. But, we used to live in downtown San Francisco, and so we feel their pain.  And then there’s Texas. They cancelled, what, 6000 flights into or out of Texas airports?  How awful is that? Especially for folks trying to leave Texas.  

And then, right in the middle of this weather chaos, we have republicans beginning to gain speed in their zeal to become the Evil Overlords of America. They’re busily banning books that make them uncomfortable. They are threatening teachers with felony convictions should they dare to reveal to their students how the world actually works.  But then republicans really do so hate educated people. They ask so many embarrassing questions.   And then those same educated people seem to insist on voting, and we know how that works out for republicans.  All in all, the chaos here in America makes me think about moving, except for two things. One, I’m 88 and have no serious wherewithal to pick up and leave to some other country.

But then I also have this other issue. Even if I were able to move, where would I go?  I used to imagine New Zealand. But then Jacinda Ahern left as their political leader, and the weather Frankenstein moved over their country, creating chaos there. I mean, Britain seems totally screwed up politically, Australia isn’t any saner than America. So I guess I am going to have to look around a bit more cautiously.  Politics does seem kind of screwed up so many places.

And then, and then, our police started thinking it was ok to kill people, just to demonstrate who’s really in charge.  And that is never a good thing. We need our police. Really, we do. But we really do not need police acting out their worst instincts.  First, five Black cops, belonging to some elite unit, decide it’s ok to beat some other (Black) dude to death. And here I thought we learned something from the George Floyd disaster.  And then, some other White police dudes decide it’s ok to chase after a guy with no legs and then shoot him. Wouldn’t want him getting away, would we?  Makes me think maybe the Brits have the right idea by denying arms to their beat officers.

So, now, as I gaze outside at the dismal weather, I have to resist the urge to watch any TV news, or even to follow any Newsie outlets in my computer, since we seem to have all bad news all the time. Remember that Ukraine place? Yeah, it’s still there, and Vlad the Impaler continues to sit in his comfortable Moscow office and issue orders to kill and maim as many Ukrainians as possible. He is so bad that even Russians have begun fleeing their country to escape the possibility of being drafted into Vlad’s Evil Army.  Begins to bring back memories of both the Cold War and that war in Southeast Asia. Remember that? Such fun.

When did it used to be fun living in America?  Remind me, please. I’m really old and have begun to forget when those good times were a’rolling.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Waiting for God

I guess this is a function of turning 88 last December.  And what is the “This”? Well, “This” is noticing that folks are dying all around you.  Now, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. I mean, folks die every day, and famous folks seem to appear in my social media outlets with some frequency. Seems at least a few times every week, I note a posting in some newsie outlet that someone has just died.  Mostly, they are folks in their 70’s or 80’s. , but some times they are just in their 50s. Sad, very sad.  Well, it’s sad whenever someone dies, but to die in your 50s or 60s seems truly sad. The husband of a friend who is one of our favorite Farmers’ Market folks just died and we think he was in his 60s. The truly sad part of that passing is that when folks arrive in their mid-60s, they begin to imagine life without a daily truck’n off to work. Yeah, Retirement.  And assuming you have been reasonably careful, you can even imagine retiring with enough money on which to live.  So, dying right at that stage just seems like you were cheated by Life.  Takes the smile right off your face.

And then, of course, because we are old, many of our friends are old also.  So, seeing as how we are now in our 80’s, so are our friends.  And that’s really when folks begin to leave.

But then we have this term we always use—“Leave”. Sometimes we say that folks have “passed on”, or they have “departed”.  And then many folks engage in the fantasy whereby they envision the departed as sitting up above us, on a cloud somewhere watching us.

In short, they imagine that Life continues, but in a different form.  They can observe us, but they are no longer able to interact with us. But does everyone believe that Life After Tale?  Well, No. I, for one, have a different view of what happens “After”.  And what is that view?

Well, I imagine that we suddenly lose awareness and we do not even realize we are dead, because we no longer realize anything.  That is, our mind stops functioning altogether. It isn’t that it stops being capable of yelling at other people. No, it stops being capable of seeing/knowing/sensing. It goes blank, AND, it remains blank.  Further, it (the mind) does not suddenly allow us to see other dead folks, or to watch our trials and tribulations down here on Earth. Nope. We no longer sense anything.

Now, I suppose that scenario is both a plus and a minus. The plus side is that, we are not going to Hell, because there is no Hell. But on the minus side, we are not going to Heaven for the same reason. There is no Heaven.  And that’s the part that keeps my attention. I can’t decide whether that’s a good thing, or a bad thing.  We will simply shut down . . . Forever. We will never become born again. We will never be aware again. But then we won’t even know we are “not aware”.  To be honest, I have never really understood that Hindu reincarnation thing about being “born again”.  If you have no memory of your prior life, you also have no awareness. How is that different from what I imagine?

I realize that our population of “Believers”—generally churchgoers of any persuasion—will take serious exception to what I think and believe. And surely they are entitled to that viewpoint, since, to be fair, I have no more actual data than they do. Again, to my knowledge, no one has come back from Death.  Now, some folks get brought back to Life after they have technically died, i.e., their heart stopped beating and they seemed technically dead. Then through CPR or some other shock, they regain Life. I think that doesn’t count for much, since most have no cloud-like memories. They stop breathing, everything goes blank, then they return to breathing and Life again.  But none, to my limited knowledge, have anything to contribute to the debate about what happens after we croak.

And so, when I am told of a friend who “passes on”, or I read something, I feel a bit of a sadness, or even a shock. And it adds to my own awareness of the nearness of that event to me.  But I still do not know what to do with those feelings. I can prepare for the folks who I will leave behind, e.g., that Will thing. And I can even write notes (no this is not such a note) But I can’t do much else.

What I can do, more importantly, is to try to spread some more love and some more good feelings. I can try to make people around me happy.  Smile Richard. Make believe you’re on TV. Quit Hating things and people, even Trump MAGAHeads. They’re idiots, yes. But they don’t even know they’re idiots, and that is important to them.

So, maybe I should apologize for writing my tale here.  

And, when it’s time, Have another glass of some nice wine, look at your Love One and Say, To Us.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

World War End

I have been alive a long time by almost any count. I still remember the beginning of that first war I remember. No, not World War I. That was my granfolks war.  Yeah, they watched it, although to my knowledge, none of them were ever engaged within it.  No, it was World War II, beginning with that Pearl Harbor thing, you know, when our enemies dropped all those bombs all over our bases in Hawaii. Yeah, I remember that one.

And then we entered what became World War III, the war without endings.  Yeah, it began in 1950, soon after WW II ended. Koreans started shooting at one another and, of course, we had to take Sides. Then, vaguely after that seemed to want to end, The Vietnamese began shooting at one another, and, again, of course we had to take sides. And that one went on for years. But then, relatively unnoticed it would seem, people had been shooting at one another in that place called The Middle East, for years. And that has never really stopped. As soon as one group stops shooting there is a waiting line for the next group to begin shooting.  Yeah, turns out that Humans just really like killing one another. Think on that six-year old who went to school recently and just shot his teacher. Yeah, humans learn really early. Apparently, the Bible tells us that “Thou Shalt Kill” in any way we can.

And so, folks have been shooting up the planet almost ever since I came into being in 1934.

And now, we are beginning to notice, when we turn our attention away from people killing people that is, that we collectively have introduced what we might call the War that ends all Wars – Global Climate Change. Only, now it is US against The World. Yeah, we are now engaged in a war being waged by our planet, because we have been too stupid to take action to prevent it.  Apparently, at least 70 years ago, our scientists have been telling us that, unless we reduce our carbon emissions, our global climate will change and may well begin killing us all.  But they were predicting potential disaster many years in our future, and, whenever we do that, humans say, “yeah sure, but just not now”. And, so, predictably, we have been ignoring their advice to reduce carbon emissions.

So, now we are approaching that 2-degree temperature rise that predicts a cataclysmic climate change. Global warming will give rise to more extremes in all kinds of weather—droughts, catastrophic rainstorms, ice-free arctic zones, giving us even more wildass weather.  They are now coming up with new terms—Bomb Cyclones, atmospheric rivers. And many of the folks who produce our food are beginning to experience the worst of their predictions. California has been hit by both serious droughts leading to wildfires, followed by rainstorms leaving behind rivers overflowing everywhere.

And we no longer just get rainstorms—you know, those cloudy days when rain falls for a few hours, leaving behind an inch of water. No, now, it rains for a few hours and leaves behind 3-5 inches of water, which floods many areas, accompanied by wildass winds. Yeah, much of our weather now seems intent on destruction.  

Now you might imagine that all this catastrophic weather might provoke our industrial and our government leaders to sit down and prescribe some serious changes to prevent even more destruction. But instead, we have industrial leaders mounting serious charade campaigns to misinform the public. And then, just to follow suit, the America people voted to elect even more republicans into office. How does that change things? Well, republicans are now opposed to government. Yeah, folks elect republicans explicitly so that our government will cease functioning.  And that Kevin McCarthy charade just illustrated the point beautifully.  Yeah, Kevin basically gave away the candy store in order to head up the group that hates government. So what you say? Well, what that means is that, while our industrial leaders continue lying to us, in order that they can continue doing nothing, now our government will be too dysfunctional to do anything either. And so, global climate change will continue unhindered, and even accelerated by humans.  Yeah, aren’t we proud folks? And I was just reading about Norway which is achieving zero carbon emissions, while we piss away any chance of emulating their responsible behavior.

And so, our war with ourselves continues unabated. Aren’t we proud? But, just remember, there is no bogeyman enemy in this war, folks. We are our own enemies. And that is why this is perhaps our last war. So play on. It may not be long.