VOTE YES ON ONE !

I know there are a lot of important issues. COVID-19. Climate change. Anything having to do with Prez 45 and/or any of his cohorts. The collapse of our and the international economy. Systemic racism and an out of control police department. Pointless wars. Destruction of our national parks . I can’t even list them. I get dizzy and physically ill.

But here’s an easy one for you, if you happen to live in Massachusetts:


VOTE YES ON ONE!


What, you ask, is ONE? It’s the big car dealers effort to make it impossible for you to get your car serviced wherever you want to get it serviced because they want all the money for themselves. Not only would this cost you a lot more money for repairs, but the dealers are not equipped to handle that many cars for servicing.

The thing is:

THERE IS NO PERSONAL DATA ENCODED IN YOUR CAR’S KEYS OR COMPUTER. Not to mention that when you put our car in for servicing, you are already giving the mechanic your keys, registration, and YOUR CAR. If you are that concerned about what your mechanic is going to do with your car and all that personal information — which you just handed to him — why are you giving him your vehicle, your phone number, and your registration? They don’t need to go searching for your data. You have already given him all of it. No one is going to work on your car without this information, not even an oil change or or an inspection. None of this information is encoded anywhere in your car. Not in its computer, circuitry, keys, or anywhere else. But it is on your registration and anything missing is on your driver’s license — which you also have to hand over.

Every time you need work done on your car, you are giving away all the information anyone who wants to rip you off could possibly need. There is no information in your car which would enable someone to take control of your car — or cause you to crash. Or attract sexual molesters to your home. No one needs to go searching for it in your keys (it’s not IN your keys) or in your engine’s computer (it’s not in there, either). If you have a bad feeling about the guy working on your car, go somewhere else to get work done on it.

That’s the joy of saying “YES” to ONE. You can go wherever you want.


VOTE YES ON ONE!


Your car’s functional data (engine, parts, etc.) isn’t a secret now nor has it ever been. Anything locked in your cars circuitry has to do with the functioning of your car’s engine and its parts. As far as the rest of it goes, you’ve already your mechanic your phone number, address, registration, AND keys, so what are you worrying about? And why? If you vote no on ONE, what you are doing is putting about 20.000 mechanics out of work, closing all the private garages in Massachusetts. Now your dealer can really rip you off. Again. At a time like this with so much unemployment, is this the best time to take a whole profession and eliminate it so the big dealers can be the ONLY ones who can work on your car? What if you live in the country? What if you bought your car in another state? What if you traveled a long distance to get your car at the best price — and now you’re stuck trying to find some dealer willing to work on your vehicle?

If they pass this law, you will be forced to line up at a dealer to get any work done on your car. As it stands right now, if you have work to be done under warranty, it can be months before you get them to find a date. Ever tried to get a recall notice dealt with? They never have the part and if it’s important, you can be driving around for months waiting for them to get around to you.  No matter what work you get done at the dealer, it always costs more than it ought. If you want “standard” work (oil changes, tire rotation, tune ups, etc.) done on your car, your dealer will charge you at least twice as much as a local mechanic would charge AND take a lot longer to boot.

How much do you trust your dealer? Or your dealer’s worker’s mechanics? Do you believe they are less likely to rip you off than the guy you’ve been going to for years? Why would you think that?


VOTE YES ON ONE!


Yes means “Yes, I want the freedom to take my car to anyone I want. I don’t want to be trapped by my dealer.”

We may not have a lot of power in this world, but at least we can still choose where we get our cars fixed. Freedom has to start somewhere.

REMEMBER “LOOK ALIKE, FEEL ALIKE”?

“Look alike, feel alike” used to be the motto of the User Interface area of software development. The idea was that as you developed a product, each new version should “feel the same way” as the one that came before it. Doing this made it much easier for users to understand additions and fixes to the software they owned and when properly trained, developers understood how to “tune” the software to make the lives of customers easier and better. That was way back in the days when software engineers and company owners still cared about customers. Making good software was what they wanted to do — not necessarily squeezing the last dime from each and every customer.

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I worked for (mostly) newly-hatched development companies. A lot of them never got their products to market because when the “dot com” bubble burst, they lost their backing. When an economic bubble pops, it’s like dominos going over. Nothing stands alone. The little 10-person company for which I worked is being funded by another, slightly larger company, funded by possibly several somewhat bigger organization. Many of the products we were working on eventually did come to market after going bankrupt, but the same people found new funding after the economy righted itself. Always and forever, our goal was to create software that could be easily understood by the customer, NOT just by the developers.

This is why I did so much testing as part of my job. I had to make sure that whatever the developer was attempting to do actually worked the way he or she said it did. Developers don’t test the way users need products tested. Developers have all kinds of shortcuts so they don’t have to go through every step of the process. Their “quick tests” are fine for them, but users MUST go through every step of the process because they have a job to do and they can’t cut chunks of their work out to get to the end result without doing all the parts in the middle. For example, since I worked most of the time on databases, the end point of the process was that a company would enter its products and all of the pieces that were part of the product into a database. You could call up the product and see all its parts, or you call call up any of its parts and see the larger product. It didn’t matter whether it was a truck or an engine, or a part of an engine or some kind of aviation monitor. In order for the database to do its job, ALL the parts of the product had to be listed in a variety of ways to make it possible for the customer to find the piece — even if it was the nut on a screw — he or she needed to fix something. And this had to work quickly and be extremely accurate. It had to be easy to remove an old part that had been redesigned or eliminated from inventory as it was to enter a new product and all its parts.

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The easier you made the product, the better ratings you got. Most of the little companies I worked with who invented stuff were ultimately bought by larger companies who took new stuff and included with existing technology. That was how business was done.

It wasn’t unusual for these small companies to be funded by larger companies in the first place. It gave the baby company a lot of freedom to invent products that bigger organizations would never have created. But — at no point did anyone produce a new version of an existing product that would require a corporation to retrain an entire organization to use it — which is what WordPress has done. In a real business world scenario, this would probably put them out of business and if the market for blogging weren’t so minimal, I don’t think they’d survive this current scenario.

So for all of us who find ourselves pushed into a corner and having to use the block editor for work that doesn’t need a block editor while discovering a post now takes twice as long to complete as it did before, welcome to what we used to call “badly designed software.”

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I didn’t just write documents. I was part of a team and worked with developers — each of whom had a specific area to develop — to build software which was intuitive (read “easy”) to use and as bug-free as possible. Upgrades always included real improvements to functionality or major fixes to bugs, not just glitzy overlays. It had to integrate with a previous version and add VALUE to the software.

These days, many products are so overlaid with bells and whistles no one wants or needs, the functions of the customers (us) are lost beneath whatever a developer thought was a “really cool idea.”


Thus when you find yourself using the “classic” block in the editor to get an imitation of what you did before and you wonder what the point of all of this confusion was? Money.


In this case, it’s trying to make the editor able to build something that imitates a fancy, commercial magazine site. It has nothing to do with what most of us do. The developers who have been doing the work never asked us what we wanted or needed. They are developers who have never written a post or a photograph.They have no understanding of writers or artists. If you ask them, they also don’t care.

Yes, the “classic” block more or less mimics the older classic editor — leaving one with the sour taste of why they couldn’t leave us that to use if that’s what we wanted. If you buy their higher priced packages you CAN get the classic editor back, by the way. You just have to pay more than twice the price for something you used to get as part of your package. You just have to love price gougers, don’t you?

The “classic block” is not the classic editor. It’s an imitation and they can take it away, just like they took away all the high quality customizations we originally paid for and that’s why I am very loathe to pay them more, even if I had the money. I used to get all this same stuff for the price I’m paying, but they stripped it out and put it in a more expensive package. They did it once and they will do it again. You can’t trust them.

This IS what I did for a living. I didn’t just write manuals. I worked with a team of developers to create software which did what customers needed done.

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The point of setting up this kind of process was to make the software “intuitive.” Things that worked in tandem were grouped together. It should not take more than 10-minutes for a user to grasp how an upgraded editor works. It doesn’t have to be this way. Properly done, new software can and should be easier to use. Also, the result of the effort ought to be a better product or why bother with an update at all? Oh, right. I forgot. Money. I keep forgetting that this isn’t about customers. It’s about money.

Still — why make it harder? Usually, it’s because no one is in charge who understands customers. There is no excuse at this point in the software development cycle for creating a stupid User Interface. It’s not as if we went blindly into the interface biz. What the software does “underneath,” its essential functionality, is one thing. How it’s presented to the user is done by developers who specialize in designing a user interface.

This isn’t 1982 when we’re figuring out how an editor is supposed to work. We’ve been there. Done that. If WordPress listened to their customers, this didn’t need to be such a mess. It didn’t need to have so many pointless complexities. I shouldn’t NEED to go searching for the “sticky” function. It should be grouped with other publishing tools. It’s sloppy work at its best and it will be years before they get it sorted out IF they sort it out. They fix bugs only when they consider them bugs. Just because it’s inconvenient and hard to use, they don’t have to fix it.


It’s not a bug. “It’s a feature.”


Since they often just leave things (no matter how poorly thought out), but keep adding stuff on top of stuff that doesn’t work well, issues lurk. It won’t matter how much money you pay. Badly designed software gets worse over time. It only gets better if and when someone cares enough to make it better.

FALLING BETWEEN THE CHAIRS, PART DEUX

Trying to get a loan to install a new boiler in this house ought to be easy. I’ve been paying off as many debts as quickly as anyone on social security can, but apparently not fast enough. Never mind that the money has almost entirely been spent trying to keep the house from falling apart. What I don’t “get” is that this is a zero percent loan. They aren’t even paying out the money. National Grid is paying the money.

Also, It’s not a huge number. At zero percent, it’s easy to pay off. But they have a computer. When it dings, you’re donged.

So I have a choice: find a lender with a soul, or not pay my mortgage until I have saved up enough money, and then pray that the the bank will make a deal. Or we wind up on the street. I’m hoping we won’t wind up in the street because I don’t think we would last long. We’re a little old for that. It’s ironic. We make too much money to get housing assistance, but NOT enough to really afford housing. Once more, we have fallen between the chairs.

There turned out to be a third solution. Refinancing the house. This got a little complicated because we are on a H.A.R.P. program which was one of Obama’s programs to get mortgage rates down and under control. To do that, our existing bank refinanced us at a substantially lower rate (4.8%) and HUD took over $80,000 of the mortgage. It dropped our mortgage payment by almost $1000. This was good because I had cancer at the time and being on the street didn’t seem a practical solution for us.

One wet daylily

In the meantime, thanks to Trump’s astounding management of our economy, mortgage rates have dropped to the lowest they have ever been, at least in my lifetime. We locked in at 3%. That gives us a slightly lower payment even though the new mortgage INCLUDES the $80,000 HUD was holding and gives us enough cash back to pay for the boiler, fix the back door, and maybe replace the toilet in my bathroom. And if we are very lucky, maybe we will have enough to put some cabinets in the kitchen. A girl can dream.

Daylilies

We still have to get through the appraisal, get a couple of pounds of paperwork to Missouri — which is interesting because Missouri just went back into lockdown and everyone is working from home. I hope the appraiser “gets” that we are a home “in progress.” That’s why we need the loan. Meanwhile, we have a tentative go. We couldn’t get a $7000 zero percent loan, but we CAN get a $262,000 mortgage? Does this make any sense to anyone? This is a standard 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If any of you are looking to refinance, this is a good time to do it. We are working with Mutual of Omaha. I decided to go with someone I’ve heard of this time. People who know how to manage a mortgage? At least they’ve been in the mortgage business for 111 years. Some of the people who called us have been in the mortgage business for about as long as a week. Been there. Done that. I didn’t feel like doing it again. They give you a mortgage, then they sell you to someone else in a matter of days and then you get sold again and again until you are dizzy and have no idea to whom to send your payment.

The daylilies and roses are blooming. Now that the feeders are back up, we have flocks of goldfinches and red finches … and very young squirrels.

WILL WORK FOR PIZZA – Marilyn Armstrong

There is a rumor, perpetuated by television shows, that bloggers earn a living. By blogging. Someone in Hollywood seriously thinks people like me make money doing this. I am depressed to admit it, but not one cent have I ever made from this site — not counting the occasional free book for review.


I don’t advertise on this site. In fact, I pay WordPress to not put their advertisements here. My dream is not to monetize my site, but be such an incredible writer that the world will shower me with money — just because I’m me. I won’t have to ask, and I will owe nothing to anybody. And I could pay the bills! Yes!

Money for nothing. It brings tears to my eyes.


Somewhere, a blogger must be making money on his or her site, but I don’t know them. I’ve been around the world, blog-wise. I have yet to see a single blogger bringing in the big bucks. A few people have tried to at least keep even by putting advertisements on their sites, but the amount of money this earns them wouldn’t add up to a good meal in a fast-food joint.

Anyway, advertising annoys readers. Sites with spammy ads and weird pop-ups make me want to go somewhere else. Since the Internet remains one of the last, free places on earth, that’s what I do. I go elsewhere. I don’t do this for money. I don’t even do it in the hopes that someday it might make money.


I don’t run advertisements, have no connections to any organizations with money. I get offers for free applications for an “honest review,” but between the lines, I read “positive, glowing review.” I turn them down. But no one has offered me a Mercedes yet.

I turn them down. “Money for nothing” is a delightful dream and that is all it is.

If for some obscure reason, you want to buy me off although to be fair, I can’t for the life of me imagine what anyone would get by buying me off — unless you want my bills. I’ve got a lot of them. Regardless, you’ll have to do a lot better than any offer I’ve gotten to date. I’m sure everyone has a price, so I probably have one too, but no one has come close to meeting it. And on top of that, I’m not sure what I have to offer that anyone would pay for.


Meanwhile, if all else fails, I will work for a really good New York (preferably Brooklyn) style pizza. With extra cheese, extra sauce, onions, peppers, and maybe meatballs. Or high-quality pepperoni.


MEDICARE AND WHERE ARE MY GLASSES? – Marilyn Armstrong

An advertisement I couldn’t abide showed up on an email this morning, as follows:


Content from Partnership for America’s Health Care Future
American families can’t afford Medicare for All.

Studies confirm that Medicare for All would force Americans to pay more for worse care. Economists agree, there’s “no way to pay for Medicare for All without tax increases.”


After I got on Medicare, I’ve had the best medical care I’ve ever had in my entire life.


I’ve had the best doctors, been to the finest hospitals, and not been afraid to see a doctor when I thought I needed one. I’m pretty sure without Medicare, I would be dead. The only thing better than Medicare alone is Medicare with Medicaid.

I don’t know what it would cost, but compared to commercial insurance, Medicare is cheap. When they calculate what “national” Medicare would cost, they never calculate what medical care is already costing Americans.

How about subtracting the current cost of care from the total and THEN tell us what it would really cost? Because we pay a fortune for medical care in this country, far more than they pay in other “first world” countries. We do NOT get better care for the money.

Then, how about calculating how many people die for lack of any medical care? What’s the price tag on that?


PART II: WHERE ARE MY EYEGLASSES?

How in the world can you lose your glasses when you essentially never remove them except to sleep? That is this morning conundrum. I tried to fit it into someone else’s prompt, but no matter how hard I shoved and pushed, it just didn’t fit.

I know I was wearing my glasses last night. I’m pretty sure I wore them into the bedroom and obviously at some point, I took them off. I always put them on either my little computer table or my night table. Occasionally, I put them on the headboard which has bookshelves and every once in a blue moon, I discover I left them in the bathroom or they are caught in the bedclothes, meaning I fell asleep with them on.

Garry and I hunted through all the places they ought to be and a lot of places they shouldn’t (but might) be.

Nothing. We then added the clothing I took off when I went to bed. No glasses. They aren’t under or behind the bed nor in the drawer in my end-table — OR the bag in which I keep my medications. Not in the bathroom, not forgotten in the living room which I considered unlikely since I was watching Colbert before I went to bed and no doubt was wearing them while watching.

I gave up and put on another pair.

Where are they? I didn’t leave the house. I didn’t go downstairs. They have to be up here … but where?

The worst part of hunting for your glasses is that you can’t see because you can’t find your glasses. Oh well. I suppose they will show up at some point, hopefully not crushed under my ( or someone else’s) shoe.

ANSWERED MYSTERY:  In the wastepaper basket.

LOSING EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

A lot of people figure that everyone “retires” on their own terms in their proper time. That hasn’t been true in our world. Certainly not in Garry and my world. Garry lost his job because the company he worked for decided to move on without “the old guy.” I lost my job because my bosses son needed one.

Many of the people I know were “laid off” which feels exactly the same as getting fired, except there’s no legal reason for it. They just feel like doing it. In Garry’s case, it was clearly age-related. In mine, it was just smarmy.

I’ve known at least half a dozen people who got forced out of jobs they’d held for as long as 40 years. They had no preparations for retirement, no significant saving, and no plans. They all figured they’d work until they hit the official “date” … but it didn’t turn out like that. Not even close.


All the awards you want … but no pension you can live on.


Garry, after 31 years at channel 7, was shown the door in literally five minutes. When he came home, he looked like he’d been bludgeoned. I should mention that Owen lost his job during the same week. It was a hell of a week.

I hadn’t been at that job for very long, but the boss had me “showing the kid” how to do the job. Sneaky. I was in my 60s. There wasn’t another job waiting for me and I was ill.

For two years, we lived on what Garry got as his union payout. No medical insurance — and I kept getting sicker. He was miserable too. He was terribly depressed and demoralized — while I was wondering if I was going to die.

He went to rehab. I found a doctor who would treat me for free and actually invented a surgery to “fix” me because I was very broken. We had no money. To keep afloat for those two years before Garry got his pension and I got disability, we refinanced the house multiple times which bloated the mortgage payment to an impressive amount we couldn’t pay. There was the HARP Program — which Obama started. The problem? The bank didn’t have to let you into the program. Great program, but all you could do was beg. Weird, right?

I had been negotiating with them for months. When finally I got cancer in both breasts, I called and said, “Well, now I have cancer. Can we please get into the program?” I think I actually shamed a banker because a couple of months later, our mortgage payment dropped by $1000 a month. That was the beginning of survival.

I found a doctor who treated me for free. A hospital that never asked for payment. A bank program that cut our mortgage in half. Finally, Garry started getting Social Security and his (very small) pensions … and I finally got Social Security Disability. We went from having no money (blessings on food banks everywhere) to almost being able to make it through a month.

I remember the day when we no longer needed the food bank. It was a small, but meaningful triumph.

Garry stopped drinking. I didn’t die.

These days, when I hear how people are melting down over getting laid off from their jobs and basically losing everything. I’m sympathetic … but mostly, I figure they’ll get over it. Not immediately. Eventually.

You have to get over it. It’s a terrible time. We went for two years without any income. None. Zero. Nothing. Whatever little we had put away disappeared. Somehow, we survived and damned if I know how. I got any help I could from anyone who gave help. I don’t even know how I did it.  We are both alive — and we still have the house. At some point, Mass Health (our version of Medicaid) kicked in. It was the idea on which Obama built his medical plan.

It was designed by our Republican governor. That’s one of many reasons it baffles me that the GOP has been so against it. It was their program.

When this was taken, I weighed 93 pounds. An XXS was too big for me. I wore a size zero and it was loose. It was not an attractive look.

Most people don’t get to retire like in the movies, with or without the gold watch. We get ditched, usually around age 59, typically 6 months before pensions fully vest.

For all of you who got dumped because you got “too old,” yes it was illegal to let you go. It’s called ageism, but it’s done all the time. You can sue, but unless you’ve got money to live on while you sue, by the time you get paid off — and you will get paid off if you can hold out long enough — you’ll be up to your lips in debt.

Did we have mental meltdowns? Sure we did. That’s why Garry needed rehab. I would have been more melted down, but I was trying to save my life and it was sheer luck I bumped into a doctor who introduced me to another doctor who took me in. I was days from my demise by then.

I developed a sort of yellow-green complexion. Which was also not very attractive

If you have had a life calamity and everything gets taken away, it will take a couple of years before you pull yourself together. It’s not just your finances that take a hit. Your soul gets maimed. Your self-esteem goes down the tubes.

When anti-medical care legislators say “no one dies from lack of medical care,” that’s bullshit. Lots of people die without care. They don’t get written up because they aren’t in the hospital or seeing a doctor. They just die. Kids, old people, and all the others in the middle.

Why am I talking about this?

Because those of us who had this terrible disaster overwhelm them need to know we aren’t alone. It wasn’t just us. It’s lots and lots of people many of whom used to be solidly middle class before their world collapsed.

So try to remember one thing:


It gets better. Somehow, someway, it gets better.


LET’S BAN PENNIES – Marilyn Armstrong

I got an email from AT&T. It was alarming. I was overdue on my bill! They were going to report me to collection agencies, send it to all those companies that decide whether or not you deserve to have a credit card or a mortgage.

I was surprised because I paid the bill. On-time. Online. I know I did.

Obverse side of a 1990 issued US Penny. Pictur...

So, after resetting my password — it doesn’t matter how many times I set my password … the next time I go to AT&T’s website, I will have to do it again — I looked at my bill. Somehow, I had underpaid the bill by a penny.

One cent. $00.01

In retribution for my oversight, AT&T said they would sic the collection agencies on me. I deserve to pay heavily for this lapse in fiscal responsibility. Though I think it was their error, not mine, but let’s not quibble.

There are many battles to fight in life. One must pick amongst them lest one be overwhelmed. This giant corporation is going to destroy my credit for want of a penny. This is what happens when computers run the world and no people monitor what they are doing. I’m sure this was all automatically generated.

I am sure if I’d called them, they would have canceled the bill. but that would take even more time and effort. I fondly believe my time, even retired, is worth more than a penny.

So I paid the bill. I wasn’t actually sure my bank would let me pay a one-cent bill, but they did.

One cent. Just one cent. Mind-boggling.

LOBBY AND LOBBYING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Lobby

I grew up in a world where “lobby” was the big room in a hotel where you got the keys to your room.

Today lobbying is a definition of what’s wrong with the country.

CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Cash

The first time I saw that sign in a package store, I stood there and gawped. CASH not accepted? But … isn’t cash our money? I mean, isn’t it supposed to be accepted everywhere?

These days, the sign is not so uncommon. A lot of places won’t accept cash. Why not?

CHANGE

Cashiers can’t make change. No one told them how to count backward to get to the right amount. They can’t do basic arithmetic in their head. I;f they are supposed to give you 99 cents and you say “Wait, I’ll give you a penny, and you can give me a dollar,” they look baffled.

If you repeat it, they look frightened. Are you trying to steal their money? Their register says 99 cents and by god, they are going to give you whatever the register says. They do not understand that if you add the penny to that 99 cents, it equals a dollar. It’s what modern math has done to the brains of our youth.

Furthermore, they don’t understand that 100 pennies make up a dollar. I’m pretty sure they are even less sure about half a dollar or quarter (a quarter of what?) and are equally vague about all the other coins. A lot of our quaint American speech — like “two bits” has gone the way of the dinosaur. Two bits equals 50 cents because a quarter is “one bit.” In case you aren’t from around these parts.

CASH IN REGISTERS GETS STOLEN

The guy with the Saturday night special (a cheap handgun for those of you not up to cop street language) isn’t looking for credit card receipts. He just wants cash to pay his dealer or his bookie or the guy who sells booze down the street.

YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES HANDLING CASH

Even if you know how money works and even if you can count properly, that doesn’t mean that the amount of money in the cash drawer at night is what it is supposed to be. I was (oh so briefly) a cashier before I was really working for a living and I don’t think I ever came out at night with the right amount of money.

Sometimes enough is not enough

I wasn’t short (or long) by much. Usually a few dollars and sometimes, even a few cents. But it’s got to be exactly right or your boss gets peckish about it and is likely to fire you.

A LOT OF MACHINES ONLY TAKE TOKENS

The baskets on toll roads often don’t take cash. These days, they just read your license plate and send you a bill in the mail unless you have a “reader” in your car. Why not?

Let us fondly remember the golden olden days when you were trying very hard to drive from New York to Washington D.C. and the entire Garden State Parkway (New Jersey) would only accept cash in its baskets. But NOT pennies because pennies are not real money. Certainly not paper money. So there you are behind someone who is digging through every compartment of his car including the floor, the trunk, glove box et al because he’s missing a nickel.

Squared toll booths?

Traffic cannot flow until he comes up with that nickel and his five pennies don’t count. Or a cop comes by and arrests him for lacking a nickel. I don’t think they hang you for that these days, but the other drivers behind you might.

PAPER MONEY CHANGE MAKING MACHINES

For that matter, you know those machines that are supposed to take your paper money and give you change? They were very popular for selling lottery tickets.

Except they don’t accept your money because it’s wrinkled. Machines cannot read wrinkles. Or, they don’t have enough change so they just keep your five or ten — and you get a very expensive soda or nothing — in return.

This is why you find elderly people using up the last of their physical strength trying to get a machine to give them their money back (assuming it took it in the first place) or at least give some change in return.

$100 BILLS NOT ACCEPTED

That’s because the cashier can’t tell a real $100 bill from a counterfeit and neither can I. My mother once got $300 in counterfeit money from her bank and they wouldn’t take it back. No, that’s not true. They did take it back, but she got nothing for it. Apparently, we are supposed to know if it’s counterfeit — AT THE BANK.

Banks are not supposed to give you counterfeit money. There are laws about that. That was at least 50 years ago, so $300 was quite a lot of money. In fact, it was school clothing for me and my sister.

So where can you use cash?

      1. Liquor stores. They get cash because a lot of drinkers don’t want it on their credit card. ‘
      2. The grocery store when the power is down and the registers won’t work.
      3. Your bookie only takes cash as does the guy who runs the gambling saloon in the basement of the liquor store.
      4. I never have any cash because even taxis take plastic these days and everything is so expensive, I’d have to carry a big fat roll of cash to even buy groceries.

If you want to look rich, buy 100 single dollar bills plus one 20 to put on top. Everyone will look impressed and you can pay for newspapers for at least a month and a half. Maybe even coffee and donuts!

THEY DON’T CALL THEM FILTHY RICH FOR NOTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Guileless but white

For all the right-wing evangelists, have any of you noticed that at no point in the Torah or the Gospels is there any mention of race or skin color? Nor any mention of superiority based on color, either.

It’s not that there was no such thing as color. Some people were dark, others much lighter. Especially in the Mediterranean area, colors vary quite a lot and no one seems to care.

Why do we care? What makes us so special? What makes white people superior? We aren’t better farmers or better people. We are cruel, vicious, and willing to destroy the world while guilelessly sitting on a fence saying “who me?”

Why is it important to be “white?” Were the Sphinxes built by “white people?” Not unless the Eqyptians have done some serious color shifting. How about the great Mayan and Aztec pyramids? They weren’t white either.  All the palaces and temples in India were built by brown people as were those in Tibet and other areas of Asia. No white folks there, either.

How about the Great Wall of China? A lot of white people building that one?

So other than our greed and cruelty to those who are different than us, what makes white people special? As far as I can tell, nothing. We invented a lot of technology which hasn’t done the world any good and is in the process of doing it permanent harm.

So as we sit around, guilelessly acting as if we are the world’s great innocents, ponder who has done the worst things to most people. Who has done the most slaughtering? Who has the biggest butcher bill to pay?

You guessed it. White people. Now we want to take over the world because we haven’t done enough damage.

Why not? We’ve been trying to do that for hundreds of years. We might get there yet. I’m not sure what kind of world we will be taking over or if there will even be a part of it that remains safe for humans to live.

We can be proudly white in a world of horror.

IT’S GONNA BE A HELLUVA WEEK – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

It’s going to be a rough week. We are supposed to take a vacation at the end of this week — visiting friends — but I need something to get worked out here and make sure we have a house to come home to. I at least need to know what’s going on around here — if MAPFRE is going to help at all with this repair or we are just left hanging.

And I have also very quickly hire a contractor who will do a good job at a decent price. Soon. I’m almost as terrified of finding a decent contractor as I am of somehow guilting the insurance company into not abandoning us.

I had hoped by now I’d know if the insurers would come through before I tried to find a contractor, but I don’t have any time left. Summer is disappearing and suddenly, winter will drop by — and then nothing gets done until next spring.

What a sky!

It is a bit tricky without money. It’ll get done. How exactly? Good question, but it’ll get done. Somehow.

Garry looking for the best shot

Sometimes, when you are looking at what is going to be a very difficult period of time, it’s good to get out and take a few pictures, which we did. There’s not even a hint of autumn outside. Usually by September — even near the end of August — at least the maples are beginning to shift colors and the aspens are yellow. But this time, it’s just solid green, green, green.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong — The perfect canal.

On the other hand, the weather was wonderful. Cool, dry, with puffy white clouds and reflections like mirrors in the canal.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn leaning on the fence and Garry taking great pictures.

Just be patient with us. There’s an awful lot we need to get done and we have very little time in which to accomplish it. I think the biggest miracle will be managing to get something happening before the snow flies!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – I made him leave the woods. I live in fear of lethal mosquitoes!

ANOTHER VOICE HEARD FROM – GUEST AUTHOR – BEN TAYLOR

WTF! Not Another Dime

We elect representatives to … uh … represent us.

They are paid healthy salaries, enjoy the best health care in the country and draw a salary after retirement, even when voted out of office. What a great job to have. I’ll take it!

Then, you ask for more money from us who have little more than an opinion to give.

So, here’s an idea: How about doing the job you were elected to do, without requiring us having to cough up contributions, for which there seems to be an endless number?

And what gives corporations the right to make huge donations and project opinions that are as likely as not unshared by employees? Employees who, for fear of losing their jobs, are hesitant to express any political opinion which is not in line with the handful of upper management rich people who have the funds to make those big donations?

Wouldn’t that donation money be better spent by passing it on to the employee’s salaries, not to mention, sharing those the giant bonuses given to executives they don’t need it since their already huge salaries are more than sufficient to cover any living expenses they might incur?

So, why do the wealthy need tax breaks? We don’t ask you to contribute to our lives, donate to our household budgets or help us pay our mortgage or car loans. All we ask is to be allowed to take care of ourselves with dignity. That you as our representatives, prevent the rich — who can pay for anything out of pocket — from taking away what little we depend on to scrape out an existence.

Just think of what kind of country we’d have if everyone was poor. Is this what is meant by making “America Great Again?”

Impoverishing everyone? Ignoring science? Destroying the planet to the advantage of the few who might profit? Maybe even returning slavery to create a cheap workforce? Employing social media to carry on petty quibbling while allowing foreign governments to meddle in our elections. Not to mention racial, religious, ethnic and other cultural injustices while great, and potentially greater natural disasters occur all around us, all over the world?

What small people Americans have become. We were great when we fought injustice, however briefly it lasted. Whatever happened to justice? Who ARE we?

And meanwhile, you want me to give you money?  Who are you? What makes you think you deserve my money? Or anybody’s money?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!
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NOT ANOTHER DIME!