Category Archives: opinion

The internet has made me brain dead

Greetings, readers. Computers and the internet were created to make our lives easier and they have. In the process, however, I think they have turned my brain into oatmeal. Yesterday, I went to look up something in a search box on the Google homepage and before I could type it in I had forgotten what I was going to look up. OMG!

Now I know I’m no spring chicken any more, but if I can’t hold a thought for more than three seconds you might as well put brown sugar on my brain, add a little milk, and eat it. This is how I remember things being when I was a child.

If I needed to have a phone number, I went to something called the phone book with white and yellow pages and looked it up. Then I called out on something now called a landline phone. And in my earliest years, I put my finger in the little hole and used the rotary dial. Now, I bring up a name on my cell phone with a pre-loaded number and it auto-dials it. No fuss, no muss, no remembering phone numbers. If my mom wanted to cook or bake something she used something called a cook book and read it off the page. Today you go on your phone or tablet, punch in the recipe and read it from there. Also there are gizmos like Alexa that can talk to you via the internet and probably give you your cooking instructions. Another thing I used to do by myself is drive a car. Readers, as scary as this sounds, there are now cars that can basically drive themselves. Two words for you: No way! I’m going to be in control of any car that I drive. “Oh, but it is safer.” Yes, but if it breaks down and you think it is still working, then you better start digging your grave. You get my point.

When I was little I used to play something called a record made of vinyl. Then we switched to 8-tracks, cassettes, and eventually CDs. But now with companies such as iTunes and Spotify, you pay $9.99 a month and all your music is at your fingertips on phone, tablet or laptop.

I recently watched an episode of the X-Files from this brand new season where Scully and Mulder were eating in this restaurant run completely by machines. Mulder inserts his credit card and decided to not leave a tip because his meal wasn’t prepared correctly. All the sudden they find themselves prisoners in the café, have to break out, and spend the rest of the episode evading machines trying to get them. I’m going to have to watch the episode again because I really don’t understand why they were in Asia in these ultra modern houses where everything was run by computer.

Now let me explain something to you before I go much further. Do I use and enjoy any of these modern amenities? Absolutely. We couldn’t have done this blog without the internet. We would have had to put our thoughts down in book form or written articles for a newspaper. In the past, we would remember facts and figures either by writing them down or memorizing them, and children actually had to bring pencil and paper to school. Now in some places I’ve heard you can’t attend class unless you own a laptop. Have we actually begun to enter the Star Trek/Jetsons era? I suppose it is inevitable. In that respect I admire the Amish and the Mennonites. They try to keep it as simple as they can.

This afternoon, I have to go pick up two baseball tickets I purchased via the internet; yes, it is convenient. I am taking a friend of mine to a State College Spikes minor league game. Even in the age of the internet, we still have personal interactions.

Next week will go like this. Wednesday will be a regular day and Thursday I will have a doctor’s appointment, so I will dictate a blog via speech recognition to be edited later. I bid you a wonderful weekend, take care, and as always, happy reading.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is a hit, despite the boycotts

Greetings, readers. Last night I went with friends to see the latest Star Wars flick. I had heard mixed reviews and quite frankly was expecting to be disappointed. I was not! As the first film in a possible trilogy, I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story as much as Rogue One, if not better. I do have a few light spoilers below.

Alden Ehrenreich did a wonderful job in my opinion of making the viewer believe that he was the younger version of the character Han Solo. He had all the mannerisms down correctly, and even looked like he could be Harrison Ford’s son. The only problem I had with him is he also looked like, in certain scenes, Chris Pine from the new Star Trek film series. But I easily gave that a hand wave.

Another major player was the younger version of Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover. He also looked and sounded even more like his character than Alden Ehrenreich sounded like Han Solo. Of course for all Star Wars fans, we were introduced to Chewbacca who was not, unfortunately played by Peter Mayhew. His health would not allow all the walking around and physical things for the part. The growling voice, however, sounded identical. It could be that Peter did the voice acting for Chewbacca. When we were introduced to our furry friend, played by Joonas Suotamo, he was the bad guy’s pet, kept in a dungeon filled with mud on the floor. Han Solo was thrown into said pit to see how long he would survive against “the beast”.

Hon’s love interest, Qu’ra played by a marvelous British actress named Emilia Clarke was in the first part of the movie and then reappeared a while later to be happily reacquainted with her love, but she had secrets to hide.

The movie came out a couple of weeks ago, and unfortunately in its third week the box office sales have fallen off the table. My good friend’s brother told me that this was because many people were very upset with the previous Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, and many people boycotted the Solo film; it is a shame. I give it a solid 8 out of 10, with good acting, a reasonable storyline, and plenty of action.

Well, after reading this you may or may not want to see the film. For those of you who are die-hard Star Wars fans, trust me, you will love it. Don’t boycott it. Go treat yourself.

I’m taking a personal day tomorrow, so Rebecca will have the blog entry up. Until next Wednesday, have a great week, take care, and happy reading.

It’s going to be a hectic few weeks

Greetings, readers. Until further notice, Rebecca and I are going to have a different work schedule. She will come in on Wednesdays as usual, and we will write the blog entry, check the mail, and have the weekly meeting with my accountant. For the next two to three weeks, quite possibly, I will have work shifts at my job on Thursdays, in addition to my regular shifts on Fridays and Saturdays. My poor aching feet! This means that Rebecca will be working from home and doing that day’s blog entry. It’s not an ideal situation for my creative writing, but we can make do.

I’m kind of in a dark place right now emotionally, but that never lasts very long. I feel myself slipping into a rut, then every other Friday I see my pay come into my bank account and all is right with the world again. In the next few days I am going to sit down, re-prioritize a few things, and get back to my happy place.

Today is the last day of our Indian Summer, thank goodness. Today’s high is 86 degrees fahrenheit and tomorrow might not even reach 70. Yes, I will admit it, it is going to feel so good. I know I tend to talk about the weather too much here in the blog, but 86 degrees in late September is a bit much. President Trump, are you sure you don’t want to change your mind about climate change?

After work hours today, I have to do a quick load of laundry and go visit my friend Traci at the hospital. The poor dear broke her ankle yesterday. It was not exactly the birthday present she was hoping for. After that is home to bed to get ready for job work shifts Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

I enjoyed the football games this past weekend, with one notable exception. I want to speak briefly about the trend in sports with players failing to show respect for our National Anthem. Before I get to that, let me mention my biggest pet peeve about the whole thing. I’m going to say it once and once only: Black players talk about their race; are we not all of the human race? I do believe they are referring to their ethnicity. I am the same race as all other people: Black, Asian, Latino, etc., but a different ethnic background. There I have now scratched the chalkboard with my nails. I hope in the future people will learn not to mix up these two terms. Now back to the games this weekend. For a couple of hundred years or so at sporting events there had never been a problem that I know of with putting your hand over your heart for the National Anthem, why should there be a problem now?

After I dictated the paragraph above, Rebecca and I got into a discussion to answer my question. She talked about the reason that the original player, Colin Kaepernick, began to take a knee during the National Anthem, to protest black people getting killed by the police and not getting justice in the courts for it. I didn’t know that. She acknowledged that this weekend many of the people on the fields taking a knee or linking arms were protesting being told to give up first amendment rights by the President, or having him tell the NFL who to fire. Which she knows is also a worthy cause. Though she also hoped that the linked arms were also a message to black people that the NFL supports their rights, too. It was a good discussion. Here is my take on it.

Although I agree with the right to protest, I am just afraid that this might mushroom into something where people putting their hands over their hearts will be the exception rather than the norm. Personally, I’ve not gone to many live games, but the few I have, I’ve either placed my hand over my heart or saluted the flag. The flag of the United States means a lot to me. Even though I never lost a family member to war, I know that the military protects those freedoms that sometimes I take for granted. The flag represents those freedoms.

Okay, I’m done ranting now. For tomorrow’s blog post, Rebecca is going to go back into the archives to pick a good entry that hasn’t been viewed much and share it again. I will be back next Wednesday with a new post. We will get back to our regular two-day work week as soon as possible.

Finally, prayers and good wishes go out to the people in Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean islands who have been so devastated by Hurricane Maria. Also to the folks in the Everglades and all the victims of the recent storm activity. This also includes the people in Mexico still recovering from the earthquake and aftershocks.

Until tomorrow for Rebecca and next week for me, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Penn State did not cover up fraternity crimes

Greetings, readers. As I dictate this entry today, I’m trying to hold on to my sanity. Last night was not a good night. My neuralgia head pain would not let me alone. I finally got to sleep around 1am. With knitting needles poking me in the head every half-minute, sleep, concentration, and work is difficult. But Rebecca and I press on.

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to blog about the charges against the Pennsylvania State University students at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity concerning the death of one of their pledges, Timothy Piazza. I was shocked to hear that after the young man fell down steps the rest of the fraternity members, except one, did nothing. They wanted to sober up first before they called 911. As I understand it, one young man wanted to get help immediately but was overruled by his fraternity brothers. He is not being charged. Eighteen frat brothers are facing many charges related to his death, including reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter. I applaud Penn State and the authorities for throwing the book at these young men. They were old enough to know better.

The two things that really angered me were how long they waited to call authorities and the lack of urgency in the caller’s voice (the 911 call was released the other day). As I was listening to this 911 tape on an Inside Edition YouTube blurb, it was evident that the caller was desperately trying not to get into trouble but knew the situation was much more serious than he was letting on. He made no mention of the young man’s head injury. The only thing he did right was he said yes when the 911 operator asked him if alcohol was involved.

If I had my way, all fraternities and sororities would be shut down for five years. But, as Rebecca pointed out, most of them do a lot of good for charities, especially in regards to our annual dance marathon for children’s cancer research every February. The fraternity in question has been closed permanently. I applaud this move. My heart goes out to the parents of this young man who wanted to be a brother so badly that he agreed to be hazed, and lord knows what else, and consumed enough alcohol to not to be able to navigate steps. I hope underage drinking was not part of this but I believe it was. To all those young men in the fraternity who endangered someone who trusted you and then did nothing to help him, I have news for you. You’re lives are fucked. Enjoy it.

I know I am not usually this upset when I dictate a blog entry but I hate senseless deaths and this was certainly one of them. This was absolutely avoidable.

Next week we will have two more blog entries for you, on a much cheerier topic I’m sure. I bid all the moms a happy Mother’s Day and I bid my readers a good weekend, and as always, happy reading.

Donald Trump has ruined the country I love

Greetings, readers. I am a nervous man. I read the headlines on the internet news pages and I am seeing things going horribly wrong. What’s worse, President-Elect Trump is not even in office yet. He is making choices that I highly question, such as appointing people to head government departments when they oppose the work of those departments, and he does not intend to get daily intelligence briefings. Today I learned that four Republican electors might change their vote to change the outcome of the election. The problem is, who would go in next? Vice President-Elect Pence is no better than Donald, in some ways he is worse. What I would love to see happen is to allow the American people, who overwhelming gave Hillary Clinton the nod in the popular vote, their choice. Is that going to happen? Hell no. Why? Because that would be the right thing to do, and the United States of America hardly does the right thing anymore.

We need gun laws, but no, that interferes with our right to bear arms. So, teenagers and children can get shot up in schools and drive-by shootings. Sorry parents, that’s the Constitution for you. The American dream has become the American nightmare. When I was a kid, the American dream stood for enough money to buy a house, at least one car, and to be able to pay your bills without worry, and maybe even have a little left over for a week’s vacation at the beach. Now, both parents have to work at one or more jobs that don’t pay much, and between child care costs, bills, and grocery bills, people are lucky if they have any savings at the end of the month at all. I’m 51 years old, and for the first time in my life I look around my town and I am scared. There has been an increase of homeless people here, folks who just can’t seem to make it anymore and have given up.

The economy has grown somewhat, as I understand it, but to me those are just numbers. It seems that a lot of people have not seen better times yet. I don’t know how well off we really are, and I certainly don’t think we should have changed the political party in charge at this particular time. Although President Obama had his flaws, the economy did seem to pick up and we have a skeleton health care program which can be improved on. The Republicans wish to scrap it and begin again, leaving everyone who benefited from the Affordable Care Act in the lurch.

I feel like hopping on the ship Queen Mary II, or the Queen Victoria, and doing the immigration trip in reverse. I could visit my family in Holland for four years. Would I move there permanently? No. But right now the U.S. of A. is leaving me with such a sour taste in my mouth that even Listerine isn’t helping. I suppose I’ll be forced to give Donald Trump a chance, but I won’t wait long to bail. My nerves can’t take it. Do I want the President-Elect to drop dead? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. But it would be nice if he just left office on his own. No other President-Elect since I’ve been born has made me this jittery. Time will tell if my mind eases.

Until tomorrow when we will have another blog entry for you, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

The United States of America has chosen their President

Greetings, readers. I never thought it possible that a person with no political experience and no military service could obtain the White House, but that’s exactly what happened. Shortly after 3AM, Donald J. Trump became President-Elect of the United State of America. When sworn in, he will be the country’s 45th President.

I knew things were brewing at 9:20 last evening when I saw on a man’s laptop at Denny’s, that Trump owned the entire part of the country known as tornado alley. That’s when I knew Hillary Clinton was in for a dog fight. I still believed she would win.

By the time I got home at ten o’clock, the electoral college was 163 to 109 for Trump, and my hopes of being able to say that I was alive when the first woman President was elected were fading fast.

I watched the NBC broadcast from 10:00 until 3:15, when Donald Trump made his acceptance speech. Even though it pains me to say it, his speech was gracious and eloquent. He thanked Mrs. Clinton on her hard-fought campaign, as well as his family and all the workers who helped him. After the, “We’re going to make America great again,” part of his speech, I went to bed.

What does a Donald Trump Presidency mean to our country if his temper and mouth explode? Well…, it will mean loss of allies for certain, and in the worst-case-scenario, a war with an angered foreign country. Let’s hope that does not happen. Please, President-Elect Trump, let cooler heads prevail. War is never the answer.

We’ll have to see if Mr. Trump can make good on his promises to the people. I’m not sure he can. I just don’t think he can ‘play together with others’ well enough. We’ll see how he responds the first time he doesn’t get what he wants. Time will tell.

Until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care and happy reading.

I’m getting into controversy today

Greetings, readers. I was going to write a blog entry this morning about how upset I am with CBS and Paramount’s decision to clamp down on Star Trek fan fiction films and episodes. I still need to do a little more research into the guidelines that they have set up. So far I am not impressed. I do understand that Star Trek is the intellectual property of Paramount and CBS. However I am a firm believer that any non-profit fan fiction production is simply a love letter to the series, and really will not hurt the new show coming out in 2017. Could I be wrong? Most definitely. To me though, if I owned a song or film and someone honored me with a tribute, I would be flattered as long as they weren’t making a gazillion dollars off me. As I understand it, fan fic films make little or no money. It is all for the love of the series.

My topic today will be about how disgusted I am with the political onslaught the American people have to put up with until voting day in November. Let’s go over the main candidates. First is Hillary Clinton. There is speculation at this moment about her health concerns. Some folks would have you think she is dying. The truth is that she has a case of pneumonia and will most likely be fine.

I want this understood right now before we go any further. I have not gone on to any websites for the front running candidates. Former Secretary Clinton is a Democrat and her opponent Donald Trump is running as the Republican candidate. Gary Johnson and his running mate are the Libertarian candidates who, I feel, have zero chance of obtaining the presidency.

I don’t particularly like Hillary Clinton. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because of all the accusations against her all these years. Maybe it is because she comes across as a cold woman. She and her husband have been in trouble since Arkansas. Rebecca has explained to me before what she knows about the scandals and accusations against Hillary Clinton, but I just can’t shake the feeling that she did something wrong and got away with it. Is anybody perfect? Of course not. Everybody has faults, but when you are running for president they are always magnified. I do like some things about Mrs. Clinton. She is highly educated with way more foreign policy experience than Donald Trump. She might not be as powerful a speaker as her opponent, but she can back up her claims.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, comes across to me as a pompous, arrogant ass. He is a racist, a bigot, and on at least one occasion, made fun of a handicapped person. That is when he lost any hope of my vote. Even though my handicap is mild, I will not support anyone who makes fun of a physically challenged person, for political gain or to prove a point.

Mr. Trump’s idea to build a wall between Mexico and the United States and have the Mexicans pay for it, is, quite frankly, absurd. Do I want illegal aliens taking our jobs? No. But there must be a better way than duplicating the Great Wall of China. To be perfectly honest with you readers, I did watch a couple of his speeches on YouTube, and I’ll give you that he is a rousing speaker. But that is it. I don’t think any one of his policies would work. Now let’s go into his economics. Multiple casinos – bankrupt. Trump Airlines – failed. A lot of his business ventures have gone belly up. I don’t know what makes him think that he is qualified at all at being our president. Here is another point for you. Does Donald Trump have any foreign policy experience? I would wager no. If Mr. Trump squeezed through by some miracle to win the White House, he will have to have advisors on top of advisors. And as is shown many times on news clips, Donald Trump likes to talk, not listen. Donald Trump would make George W. Bush look like a great president. With Donald Trump’s big mouth, we just might get into another war. One we might not be able to win.

Do we really have a great choice for president this time around? I suppose Hillary Clinton is the lessor of two evils. And her foreign policy experience is a plus. As long as the Clinton’s can keep their noses clean for four to eight years, we might be okay. If Donald Trump wins, I might be blogging from Canada. Ha ha.

This might not be my greatest blog entry ever, as I don’t go into politics often. I did want to put my two cents in about the major candidates. You may be wondering who I am going to vote for. Quite honestly, I’m not certain yet. Could it be Bernie Sanders? Possibly. Could it be Hillary Clinton? More than likely. Will it be Donald Trump? ROTFL. Definitely not.

One thing I do know is that the mud-slinging from this election has gone on way too long. It is the reason I rarely watch TV anymore.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Please get both hands on the wheel

Greetings, readers. With the Penn State students coming back this week, the downtown traffic has increased. Today as Rebecca, Traci, and I were crossing the street in the cross walk, a car turned left, getting a little too close to Traci for my liking. I glared at the driver and saw that she was on her cell phone, not hands-free, and had only one hand on the steering. Folks, that is illegal.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard horror stories in the news about car accidents where the driver is on the phone either talking or texting. If you do not have your concentration fully on your driving, pull off the road. It is not very often that I yell at someone in a car but this vehicle did not yield for Traci. The driver’s mind was elsewhere.

Have I talked on a cell phone while driving? I must confess yes, but usually just long enough to say, “I’m driving, I’ll call you back when I pull off the road.” Unless it is an absolute emergency, whatever someone has to tell me can wait until I get to a rest area.

What are some other things I wish drivers wouldn’t do? Well, lets see. I saw a man shaving once while driving. A young woman trying to put on mascara. And the scariest of all, on an interstate no less, a young child steering the car, sitting in daddy’s lap, while daddy controlled the gas and brake. I would have suspended that man’s license indefinitely. But I guess junior just had to drive that day.

Readers, please, if you are a driver, heed the laws of your state. Here in Pennsylvania the law is no talking on a phone at your ear, no texting, but you can talk on a hands free device. It is just too dangerous, and if you injure or kill someone you will have to live with the consequences the rest of your life.

My next blog entry will deal with my wonderful vacation, where almost nothing went wrong. Suffice it to say for now, I had a marvelous time. Details to follow.

Until Friday, take care, many thoughts and prayers to the folks down south and in Louisiana who are dealing with the flooding, and happy reading.

My thoughts on Window 10

Greetings, readers. We are back in action after my Friday off. Today I am going to share with you my thoughts, likes, and dislikes about the Windows 10 upgrade I downloaded on the computer last Thursday.

It did take quite a while to finish; well past the time Rebecca left. Here are some of the good points.

By clicking the start button I have several choices at my fingertips, or in this case a mouse click, with lots of new and interesting features. From that button, I am enjoying a very easy-to-use calendar, I can link multiple email accounts there, manage my photos, and much, much more. Also, I can finally download many desktop themes, which I could not do with Windows 7. I love variety and all those extra backgrounds have really given my computer a new and exciting look. I can choose from multiple sandy beach pictures, photos of the forest, wonderful city skyline pictures, and the snowy Christmas set. These have really made my computer look nicer and come alive. The computer seems to start up, boot up, and shut down much faster, which is good.

What did the Windows 10 update not do? I was hoping beyond hope that it would help the AVG antivirus eliminate the pop-up ads that have plagued this computer for about 2 years. The first day it seemed to, after that not so much. I’m still learning exactly what Microsoft Edge is. I believe it is the new browser they have. I like the look and so far I have had no problems with it.

Time to give ratings. For the Windows 10 look: a 10 out of 10, no pun intended.

For new features: a good solid 7.5.

For problem fixing: well I really wasn’t expecting it to run like a new computer, only a 5 out of 10.

On a side note, on Friday, the blog will be a R.I.P. tribute piece to the great Muhammad Ali who passed away on Friday, June 3rd. And next week will be another short week for us with blog entries on Wednesday and Thursday. Doctors, doctors, doctors, ugh.

That is all the news I can think of for now, so until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

The technological age is starting to scare me

Greetings, readers. I have seen YouTube videos and read on-line articles dealing with the wonderful new technologies in computers and robotics. It is causing me to wonder how much technology is too much. One TV commercial sells a doorbell with a little camera in it that, via your smart phone, you can see who is standing at your front door. The only benefit I can see from this is to make it look like you are at home even when you are not, in case that person is up to no good. Or, if you have forgotten an appointment that someone shows up for, you can apologize and tell them you will hurry home, if possible. The big problem I have with it is, depending on how much it costs, is it could be a waste of money. If the UPS man shows up, and you miss him, you have the option of asking him to leave it at the front door or hold on to it if you are afraid of theft.

Another interesting invention I’ve seen, created in Asia, are life-like humanoid robots which come complete with inter-active learning skills. Most can carry on a conversation, and some can get you your favorite beverage, and actually remember what it is after they are told once. I have no problem with that to a point. But when are humanoid robots going to take jobs from humans, such as working at a retail store, because they are so much smarter? These robots are absolutely incredible, but we need more jobs for people, not fewer.

As far as automobiles go, back in the 1950s and 60s, anyone with any kind of mechanical know-how could fix his or her car. Today we are driving junior space shuttles. A friend of mine told me that her car quit and would not start and all that was wrong with it was an oxygen sensor. Not the oxygen intake, the sensor itself. Think of it, folks, one sensor and the whole car shuts down. Too computerized for my liking.

Do I want to go back to the 1800s and live a life where there is no technology? No, I’m not saying that. But there has to be a point in time where we say an invention is just a little bit too scary. If that turns on us, we could be in trouble. Enough is enough.

Please chime in, in the comment section, with what you think about the technical advances of the modern world. Until Friday, have a nice day, take care, and happy reading.