COMPUTERS, SOFTWARE, GUNS, AND US: NOT A RANT, JUST A RAMBLE

Yesterday, I tried to download a book from my Audible.com library and got a message telling me I didn’t have adequate permission.

I’ve been an Audible member since 2002 and I’m pretty sure I have more than adequate permissions. I tried what I thought I knew, then gave up and called Audible. Which is not as horrific as, for example, having to call Dell. I think I’d rather have a root canal than have to deal with Dell service people. The folks at Audible are nice. Helpful. Mostly knowledgeable. Pleasant and patient. Which is good because when my computer is playing up, I transform into a very cranky old person. I depend on my computer. I expect it to just do its job, without complaint. Without hesitation and without any special massaging. I don’t burn incense to it as I used to with some of my more persnickety machines through the years.

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We went through every menu and fixed permissions. Edited the registry. Nope, permission still denied. Which was when I realized that the application denying permission was actually Chrome, not Windows or my operating system. Good news? I wouldn’t need to call Dell. Bad news? What are the odds of actually getting a person to talk to at Google?

But my new friend at Audible had a secret weapon. He gave me the tech support direct line for Google! How cool is that? I was dubious, but I finally womaned up and called them.

Two dogs and a computer

Two dogs and a computer

They answered. It was human, not a robot. We got it fixed. Something had corrupted between when I signed off last night — well after midnight — and when I arose in the late hours of the day and signed on. This confirms my belief that our dogs secretly have opposable thumbs. They do stuff on the computers while we sleep. How else can a perfectly good browser go bad while nothing is happening? It’s got to be the dogs. J’accuse!


One of the many conversations Garry and I had yesterday had to do with weapons and shooting people to protect ourselves or others. He said he might not be able to kill anyone unless they threatened me. Then, all bets were off. I said I was afraid, unfamiliar as I am with guns except for the 22 mm target rifle I used to slay paper plates almost 50 years ago. On vacation in Maine. Even then, I didn’t load the rifle or clean it. Someone just handed it to me, loaded and cocked, said “Hold it this way” and I shot the crap out of that paper plate. It never stood a chance against my wrath.

That same long ago day in Maine, as my friends and I were passing the rifle around, shooting those paper plates (which we had tacked to an understanding pine tree) … a pheasant wandered by, and decided to hang around awhile. He wasn’t impressed with our fire power. He just stood there, in front of the tree, looking at us.

pheasant

An argument broke out. Who would shoot the pheasant? What if we shot him, but he didn’t die? Who was going to shoot him again? Who would pull out the feathers and what else did you need to do to make that pheasant into a meal? Eventually, we just shooed him away. Mighty hunters we were not.

Given that little piece of history, I have no reason to believe in my ability to kill anything. For any reason. If I started to think, by the time my brain registered the need for haste, I’d be dead. Unless that other part of me kicked in, that “emergency response unit” that seems to pop up only on an “as needed” basis. At which point all my thought processes stop and I just do whatever I need to do to survive. That could happen, right? But I wouldn’t count on it.

Garry has at least had the benefit of having gone through basic training in the Marine Corps. Once, a long time ago, he could take his weapon apart and put it back together with his eyes closed. Not that we have such a weapon, but at least he has — somewhere in memory — a fundamental familiarity with a weapon.

Lucky that we’ve never been tested, eh?

WHY CORRUPTION MATTERS: QUOTE OF THE DAY, PART 3

The entire quote is from Paul Krugman of The New York Times:


Why corruption matters. Hint: It’s not the money, it’s the incentives.


When money corrupts the decision-makers, the decisions they make may ultimately have nothing to do with right, wrong, public interest or anything but how the decision affects a business interest or a pay-day.

Vermin Supreme poster

If everything is about money, the moral and ethical elements that would normally be part of the decision-making process disappear.

You might want to read the article “Why Corruption Matters” by Paul Krugman. Click this link.   And please check out Sue Vincent who started this rolling at THREE DAYS, THREE QUOTES.

STANDING WITH STANDING ROCK

You’d think, after all these years, as a nation we’d have grown enough to treat the Native people with respect. But you’d be wrong. We haven’t grown at all.

Dogpaddling Through Life

Friday I went on a hike where I learned about the Trail of Tears. How white people forced the Cherokee to give up their lands and walk from Georgia to Arkansas and eventually to Oklahoma. How whites kept pushing the Cherokee out of their way for years, and how the Cherokee fought for the right to remain on their lands all the way to the US Supreme Court, who ruled in their favor, but President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce the court ruling.

ictotmapnps There were several routes taken by the Cherokee to Arkansas and eventually Oklahoma. Those forced to walk the northern route (dotted line) went through downtown Nashville. 

I learned that gold was found on Cherokee land in Georgia. White people wanted that gold, so the US army forced Cherokee people from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, held them in interment camps for months…

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HAPPY 184TH BIRTHDAY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT – AND ALL THOSE LITTLE WOMEN

women's suffrage-2In an alternate universe, Louisa May Alcott would be 184 today. In my alternate universe, we all live — as a matter of course — to at least 200. And because of our extended life span, we are better custodians of our earth recognizing that we will have to live in the mess we make of tomorrow when we despoil our world today.

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet, best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886).

Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

Bronson Alcott was a dreamer, not an earner. The result was that her family went through extended periods of dire poverty and Louisa was required to work to help support the family from very early on.

louisa_may_alcott_5c_1940_stampPublished in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, later renamed Hillside, then the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on an idealized portrait of Alcott’s childhood experiences growing up with her three sisters. Real life was much harder than the life she lived in “Little Women.”

“Little Women” was high successful almost immediately.

As Joan Goodwin explains, “from this point on Louisa May Alcott was a victim of her own success. Though she yearned to do more serious fiction, children’s books flowed from her pen for the rest of her life because their sales supported her family. Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose.”

Following in her mother’s path, Alcott pursued women’s rights with fervor, enlisting the aid of famous colleagues such as Thoreau and Hawthorne to her cause.

Goodwin goes on to write that now “Alcott gave her energy to practical reforms, women’s rights and temperance. She attended the Women’s Congress of 1875 in Syracuse, New York, where she was introduced by Mary Livermore. She contributed to Lucy Stone’s Woman’s Journal while organizing Concord women to vote in the school election. ‘

“I was the first woman to register my name as a voter,’ she wrote. “Drove about and drummed up women to my suffrage meeting. So hard to move people out of the old ruts.” And again, “Helped start a temperance society much-needed in Concord]. I was secretary, and wrote records, letters, and sent pledges, etc.”

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Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts

Louisa continued to publish children’s books, and in 1880, after her sister, May, died after childbirth, she adopted May’s baby who was named for Louisa, but called “Lulu.” In 1882, after her father suffered a stroke, Louisa settled the remaining members of her family at 10 Louisburg Square. Her own health was failing. It is generally believed from her pictures and other descriptions that she suffered from Lupus. There was little knowledge of Lupus at that time. No cure or medicine to lessen its impact. Louisa moved “from place to place in search of health and peace to write, settling at last in a Roxbury nursing home,” according to Joan Goodwin.

Jo March - By Madame Alexander

Jo March – By Madame Alexander

Her father, Bronson Alcott, who she faithfully tended even as her own health declined, died on March 4, 1888. Louisa outlived him by only two days. She passed away at age fifty-six.

She had known her death was near, despite her relative youth. She had adopted her widowed sister Anna’s son John Pratt to whom she willed her copyrights. Through him, all income from her books would be shared amongst her nieces and nephews — Anna, Lulu, John, and Anna’s other son Fred.

Louisa May Alcott never married, in part because the right person eluded her — but ultimately because she was unwilling to give up her freedom and personal power to a husband.

Louisa May Alcott was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord on “Author’s Ridge” near Thoreau and Emerson. A Civil War veteran’s marker graces her gravestone. During her lifetime, she produced almost three hundred books, but the one that most every knows remains “Little Women.”

GREENING IN MY DINING ROOM

There’s not much going on outside, but in the dining room, we have a new friend and more blossoms on the Christmas cactus.

And then, there is the bouquet, still going strong in the living room.

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And then, there’s the new kid in town, a baby jade tree.

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FLOWER OF THE DAY: THE GARDEN BY THE FRENCH DOORS

KOMOREBI AND BOKEH: JAPANESE – THE PHOTOGRAPHY LANGUAGE

When talking about photography, English doesn’t cut it. As it turns out, Japanese does.

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The Japanese have a word for everything, it seems. I just learned “komorebi.” It means “sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees,” and by extension, the natural filtering of light through anything. Like glass or curtains, for example.

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It’s just the word I’ve needed. I’ve been chasing that light for more than 40 years.

Bokeh is my previously learned favorite Japanese photographic term. It defines something difficult to say in English: “Bokeh means the aesthetic quality of blur in the out-of-focus areas of an image produced by a lens.”

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Like this?

 

72-romantic-flowers-10162016_01Or that?

Kaity

I’m sure there’s more, but this is my vocabulary lesson for the day.

LOSING: IT’S THE FLIP SIDE OF WINNING

It’s not just that Trump won. It’s that we lost.

Despite what I’m reading on social media, we didn’t lose only because of faux news, the FBI, unfair press, or badly handled emails, though all of that contributed. We also lost because of what we did, and should have done — but didn’t. This election was ours to lose and we lost it, good and proper.

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The bitter battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton planted seeds of deep suspicion that she was corrupt. It went on a long time and left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, many of those mouths belonging to people who normally would have voted blue. Even worse, after finally bandaging that wound, Hillary Clinton didn’t listen to the people. Up in the usually Democratic rust belt, people wanted to talk about the economy and jobs. She wanted to discredit Trump.

If you want to win, you need to listen. To address the concerns of the voters — or they won’t vote for you. She knew that and so did her people. So she won the popular vote, but lost the majority of states. In each of those lost states, she lost the popular vote in too — unless the recount in Wisconsin shows something else. Regardless, I doubt even a recount will change the result. I would be astounded if it did.

You may not like or fully understand the system, but it is our system. It has always been our system and the candidates fully understand how it works. Hillary Clinton has been in the political arena her entire adult life. She has no excuse.

And. Bernie Sanders needs to ask himself: Was it worth it? He blew up his own party. Is he going to stick around and help put it back together? Or was destruction his goal from the beginning? As liberals, Democrats, and voters, we need to think about where we go from here.

There’s more than enough blame to go around. If we are going to indulge in finger-pointing, we may need extra fingers. Presumably we learned (relearned) at least one lesson: corrosive in-fighting is not a winning strategy.

It’s time to start walking a more productive path. To make positive changes. Put together a winning strategy for 2020. Unless, of course, we want Trump for eight years rather than four.


 THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS HERE TO STAY


The electoral college was created by the founders of this country as part of the constitution. It’s not a recent law we can change or rescind. To remove it would require an amendment to the Constitution. Which is not happening. The assigned electors per state can be (and are) adjusted to make the college more representative and reflective of the U.S. population. But eliminated? I doubt it.

The electoral college was created to balance the power and interests of populous, industrial states and make sure agricultural, rural states with lower populations don’t get trampled in national elections. 

That is exactly what it did. Although Hillary Clinton (my preferred candidate) won more popular votes, she won all her votes in the big, urban, industrial states. Trump got fewer votes, but won far more states. You and I may not like it, but the electoral college was designed to make sure that popularity and population are not the only things that factor into electing a president.

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Is it fair? I think it’s rather like the referee’s call in a football game. It depends on whether the call favors you or the other team.


THE U.S. IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. 


The United States is a constitutional republic and popularity is not the only factor that counts in a presidential election.

The electoral college is an integral part of the structure of our government and its presence is exactly what makes us a republic rather than a democracy. Before you start howling about abolishing it, recognize that it was put in place for a reason, even if you don’t like the reason. If you lived in Wyoming, you would feel it was protecting your interests … and you’d be right.

If you live in a big, blue state, do you really believe you are entitled to enforce your will on the entire country? Does it mean you always get to pick the winner?  I don’t like Trump, but our system works the way it is supposed to. It isn’t a cheat or a scam or something that’s been overlooked and needs fixing. It was designed and included intentionally so you don’t get disenfranchised because you live in the country or on a farm.

I’m surprised how many people apparently don’t understand how the Constitution or our government works. Didn’t we all learn this in school?


If you are interested in learning more, you can start here at History.com ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Or, just Google “electoral college” and poke around. There’s plenty of information easily available.

ONE DOG OR TWO? by ELLIN CURLEY

Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have had four dogs, three dogs and two dogs. A few weeks ago we lost our 16-year-old dog, Lucky. Now, for the first time, we are down to one.

Our one dog is a 40 pound, 7-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She is smart, sweet, and the most people-oriented and communicative dog I’ve known. She is also fearful, skittish. and has anxiety issues. She is on medication. We have also worked with dog trainers to reduce her anxiety. She is better than she was. but is still a dog with ‘issues’.

We were sure that we would always want at least two dogs. We were sure that we would definitely get another rescue dog as soon as we had mourned appropriately for Lucky. Now we are not so sure. We have a wonderful thing going with Lexi. We’re a close-knit family and we all mesh perfectly with one another. Part of us is just afraid to rock the boat.

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We have read a lot about dogs and talked to canine experts. We understand that pack animals do better with other dogs around. Our trainer also told us that the ‘right’ dog could be wonderful for Lexi. Our older dog stopped playing with Lexi years ago. The trainer thinks that it would be good for Lexi if she could actually run around with and interact with a new roommate. It could make her less nervous, happier and less dependent on me, her primary person (who she feels she has to protect).

On the other hand, it might not be that easy to find a dog that would be a positive for Lexi. She is quirky and difficult in many ways. She loves to play with other dogs, but playing with another dog is not the same dynamic as living with one. They have to eat together, and share toys as well as human time and affection. Lexi has been jealous of our other dog in the past so this could be a delicate situation. If the dogs don’t ‘mesh’ well, we humans will become constant mediators for our small pack. We’re not sure we want to take that risk. (NOTE: We don’t believe in sending a dog back to a shelter because it doesn’t meet all our needs perfectly).

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I have an image in my head of two dogs playing ideally in the backyard and sleeping cuddled up together on the family room floor. I see them loving each other as much as they love us. We’ve had this ideal in the past. But we have friends who have had tense and difficult situations at home because of badly matched dogs.

We’ll have to decide if the reward is worth the risk. We will of course have Lexi meet potential dog rescues and see how she relates to them. Hopefully we will be able to minimize the uncertainty by being cautious and intelligent.

Maybe Lexi will find a way to tell us what she wants. As long as we’re dreaming about the future, we might as well add that to our wishful scenarios!

THE VIEW – BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

The first photography —  the first landscape photography — I loved was in black and white. It was the work of Ansel Adams and it was pictures of our national parks. The mountains, The glories of the American west are forever in my mind in monochrome, not color. No color photography has ever touched me as deeply as those first Ansel Adams pictures.

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Dam over the Mumford River

I am not he, not even close. But he was one of the two of three most important influences on my love of photography. And, to a degree, the kind of photography at which I work hardest.

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Attean View, Jackman, Maine

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: LANDSCAPE

TAKE THE LONDON UNDERGROUND

Mind the Gap, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


There are a lot of great walking cities in Europe.  London is certainly among them.  Wherever you are in central London, you will be walking distance from many interesting and historic sites.  If the weather is fine, which is often in doubt, then it is good to have some comfortable shoes and take to the streets.

The day we arrived in London, we walked all around the Paddington area.  I always find it fascinating to see the shops and restaurants and various local business. Although I have been slowed by a chronic foot problem that caused for two corrective surgeries which did not seem to correct anything, we still logged a great distance.  We made it down to Hyde Park, saw the Marble Arch and crossed over to Kensington Gardens before heading back to the hotel.  It was a lot for a couple of weary travelers.

The Underground

The Underground

At night we purchased an Oyster Card which is the equivalent of a debit card for the Underground train.  You purchase one and then add money as you need it to get onto the train.  By the way, you need it to get out also, but it takes no additional value from the card.  We have something similar in Chicago called Ventra cards.  You can also buy single ride tickets, but if you are going to make a few trips around town, the Oyster Card is the way to go. It is more economical and it saves time from buying tickets.  You can get your card deposit back and any value left on the card when your trip is over, so do not be afraid to load up the card.

Since I had been to London before, I was aware of some places my travel companion should see.  We left from the Paddington Tube stop (see arrow on map above, a little left of center).  The train system is vast and has many intersecting train lines.  It is one of the best in the world and you can take it almost anywhere in the capital city.  Buses can get you to some spots more quickly, except in rush hour perhaps.

We took the tube to Piccadilly Circus, London’s equivalent to New York’s Times Square.  It may be a bit grander.  I can say that as I have been to both.  From there we walked to Leicester Square and found a Pub for dinner.  Then it was off to Trafalgar Square and down to the Thames River.  We crossed a pedestrian bridge to the London Eye. We came back  across the Thames River on the Westminster Bridge toward Parliament and watched Big Ben strike midnight.  This was all done in a few hours time. Of course, if you stay at the pub too long, there is a tube stop at Leicester Square for your trip home.

On our next great excursion around town, I followed the lead of my companion who wanted to see certain structures for their architectural significance and others for the historic value.  He picked the tube stop that would be closest to some building he wished to see and we wondered just how close that would be to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  If we could not find the church, we were willing to look for it another time.

Approaching St. Paul's Cathedral

Approaching St. Paul’s Cathedral

As we continued our walk toward the Thames from whatever building we checked out (one of us has an architecture degree), the church loomed in distance, and I do mean loomed.  Built at the highest point in London, it was mostly constructed in the late 17th and early 18th century, opening in 1708.

Hard building to miss

Hard building to miss

We walked around the entire structure and even peaked inside.  We avoided the high entrance fee that tourists must pay when there are no church services, so we could move on to find other architectural wonders.  I am not a fast walker and my friend was seemingly content with my pace of sightseeing.

Pedestrian Bridge

Pedestrian Bridge

A new pedestrian bridge is very popular and a good spot for pictures.  It is not a far walk from the Cathedral, which stands magnificently in the background.  Yes, there are many places to get a good picture of the church so no need to start purchasing them.  By the way, it is not as close as it looks from the bridge.

Formerly London Bridge Tower

Formerly London Bridge Tower

From the pedestrian bridge we could easily spot another stop on our architectural tour.  The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom at 95 stories and by far taller than anything on the London skyline.  You can find a tube stop by the river or by St. Paul’s and ride to the London Bridge stop, but we walked our way over to the Shard.  Unless you have a lot of time for sight seeing along the river, you will want to take the tube.

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge

Along the river we saw the HMS Belfast, a British Naval cruiser that was originally launched on March 17, 1938.  It was put on “reserve” in 1963 and serves more as a museum now.  Behind it is the Tower Bridge, not the London Bridge which is actually in Arizona (look it up!).  You can look back and see the new London Bridge, put it is really a rather ordinary looking structure.

When we finally reached The Shard we discovered a long line at the bottom to take a trip inside and up to the top.  It was not important to me as we have been to the observation deck of the Willis (Sears) and my friend was more interested in getting outside pictures anyway. I chose to grab the train near there and my friend went on to see City Hall and Buckingham Palace on his own.  I think he ran into James Bond before saying hello to the Queen, but I am not sure I trust him on these points.

By the way, when you get on and off the train, please “mind the gap,” the space between the platform and the train.

Related: “Heathrow Express”
London Calling,” Sunday Night Blog

THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE AS BASEBALL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Anyone remember Grantland Rice? “It’s not about winning… It’s about how you play the game”.

That’s how we used to feel about our national pastime. Beisbol — not Futbol — at this address.

Ebbets Field, over looking Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, was my field of dreams. Harry Truman. Then Dwight Eisenhower would issue special remarks about the significance of each new beisbol season. It was bi-partisan stuff and it pulled Americans together in the love of that greatest of all pastimes.

Each spring, hope sprung eternal.

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Growing up as a kid from Brooklyn, there were my beloved Dodgers. The Bums, one of 16 teams in the Major Leagues. Eight teams in each league playing a 154 game regular season.  We could identify the players on all the teams, including the batting orders. We respected opposing players, like Stan “The Man” Musial, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Bob Feller. Rivalry wasn’t war. It was part of the game and you cheered the winners, even when it wasn’t your team.

A young Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Red Barber, Harry Caray, and Jack Buck were prominent voices carrying the games across the country. St. Louis was the west coast. Virtues — not vices — were extolled. The pennant winners went directly to a September World Series.

Most games were played during the day, giving kids a chance to follow everything.

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The World Series champions were special guests on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Frequently, they were the dreaded New York Yankees. We still applauded, because they were heroes. We respected them for their prowess.

That was beisbol, when our world was young.

Everything has changed. Nowadays, there are too many teams and many more games. The season is like a Eugene O’Neill play, a long day’s journey into night.

The Prez Race has become like the modern beisbol season. Spencer Tracy’s “fictional” Boston Mayor foretold these changes in “The Last Hurrah”, 60 years ago. Tracy’s candidate would just be shaking his head now. It has all come true. Truer than true and worse than we imagined possible.

There’s the monumentally long regular beisbol season. You do everything you can to reach the post season. Lots of players are injured or burned out by the time the season’s winding up (or down, depending on which teams you are following) to the big finale.

The Post Season is the General Election race.

The World Series are the final campaign days. The hottest team of the moment will win it all with the best strategy — and a little luck.


Ike’s thoughts were noble. Pre-expansion beisbol. Another time, another world.

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JFK was a game changer.

Obama was Jackie Robinson.

Orange Head — Ty Cobb wins it all!!

In beisbol jargon, next year is 2020.

Grantland Rice is turning over in his grave. Let’s sign some good free agents, Maybe next season we’ll get the win!!


This post is also one of three responses to the “Three Days, Three Quotes” challenge on Sue Vincent’s site. Check her out, too. She is magic!