No Affinity For Xfinity

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For the benefit of anyone who may be wondering, Xfinity is a trade name of Comcast Cable Communications, LLC; AKA an ISP with a MO that doggedly barks at / hunts down / chases after new customers.

So, just how doggedly is their pursuit?

Well, I’ve been rejecting their snail mailed come-ons 52 times a year for (at least) the past 5 years (likely longer); which begs the question:

How long before the Xfinity Team geniuses connect the dots to conclude that I do not respond well to hard sell tactics; that I’m hardly unique in this regard.

Look, I have no problem when businesses promote their products and services in a reasonable, responsible manner. How would I define that?

  • Reasonable: No more than one advert campaign per Earthly season.
  • Responsible: Business practices, which do not destroy planet Earth.

Alas, it’d appear Xfinity’s bite is even worse than its bark. Yep, it’s bye-bye bark, branches, leaves and trunks when their hatchet men chop down entire forests just to restock that LLCs supply cabinets with untold, metric tons of paper stock.

BTW, I did take a few moments to pour over Xfinity’s latest one pager and nowhere within the voluminous fine print is there any mention of that text getting printed out on recycled paper.

Worse yet, their bad for the environment SOP doth not end with deforestation; seeing how they frequently, pointlessly, manufacture utterly nonredeemable PLASTIC “gift cards” to glue to their mailers. As if what? Simply stating their offered discounts would not suffice?

And, lest anyone forget, low demand for recycled plastic means that it oft ends up getting dumped into our oceans.

So, what’s a beleaguered junk mail recipient to do? Well, were it not against United States Postal Service regulations (and City Ordinance), I’d park my recycling cart next to my front porch and ask my letter carrier(s) to deliver all Xfinity correspondence (and other junk mail) therein.

Yet, such an extreme could never even begin to reclaim the energy needlessly wasted during the manufacturing stage of such adverts AND the subsequent, secondary energy waste when the recycling trucks make their never-ending, weekly rounds to collect this pitched paper and plastic.

After all, it’s impossible to defy the laws of Physics.

At issue, too, is how everyone doesn’t recycle conscientiously. One needn’t look any further than the Post Office lobby trash receptacles; typically over flowing with the junk mail discarded by the renters of on-premises P.O. boxes.

After all, it ain’t easy to defy the laws of Human Nature.

Going beyond even these concerns, one has to question the reliability of Xfinity’s Internet connection and speed. Look, advertising doesn’t come cheap, which means wasted bucks means less funds allocated for the upkeep and upgrades of their Internet infrastructure. In other words inadequate funding equals inadequate service OR Rubbish In equals Rubbish Out.

After all, it’s unwise to defy the GIGA* law of Computer Science.

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* Garbage In / Garbage Out

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference

Glasgow

Service Interruptus

Subtitle: Ma Bell’s Bells and Whistles

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For the benefit of WordPress readers, who may not be American History buffs and, as such, are unfamiliar with what Ma Bell stands for, it all hearkens back to

“The common nickname for the Bell Telephone Company when it was the monopoly communications provider in the U.S.; a slang term referring to AT&T Corp., which provided the original telephone service in the United States, and thus was considered the ‘mother’ of the telecom industry.”

Non-Credited Google Search Goddess or God

Moving along to “her” Bells and Whistles…

Not long ago, I discovered a small, mysterious package on my front porch. Since Sunday deliveries are rare, this had likely been “camping out” there overnight.

With that WHEN issue readily resolved, the more ominous aspects became WHO delivered it and WHY something so valuable and visible (to both motorized and on foot passersby) would not get readily ripped off? Also, in an era WHERE OrangeMan has rudely awakened his rude, psychotic, domestic terrorist sleeper cells, I realized HOW a call to my local police department might not be a bad idea. Just to be on the safe side…

  • Perhaps one of their canines with a nose for nitro could give it a sniff?
  • Or, in lieu of that, the bomb squad could do a bucket of H2O “baptism”?

Anyway, my more rational head prevailed and remained, intact, on my shoulders, too; i.e., when, no Kaboom resulted from my DIY, more conventional box opening tactics. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean there’d be no explosions; after all, aggravation can cause one’s head to go BOOM, too, as it were. I’ll get into the brain strain particulars in a moment.

So, there I was, staring down a brand spankin’ new flip phone; one which I had never even ordered. Well, at least, my service provider’s accompanying cover letter dispelled any lingering notions that this might be some sorta diabolically designed IED.

Their “love letter” continued, (my word choice, not theirs): As you’ve heard by now (no I hadn’t) we’ll be sun-setting (how lyrical) our 3G network by next spring (Ahh, when love in the air hits the cell towers?). To ward off service interruptus, we’re providing you the latest 4G model; at no cost to you.

And so, I lived happily ever after? NOPE!
Service Intrerruptus? YOU BETCHA!
Check out this Litany of Laments:

  • Quick Start-up Guide sans open phone/install battery instructions
  • While online manual did resolve the prob, it soon led to a new one
  • Annoying Google Assistant’s (GA) spoken words oft unintelligible
  • Worse yet, “she” loved telling the time every minute on the minute
  • Yelled all incoming/outgoing phone numbers for the world to hear
  • Online tech manual’s TOC could not direct me to mute GA tutorial
  • Tech Support call led to agent who, help-wise, couldn’t phone it in
  • Techie’s www was down, so she could not research the prob, either
  • She recommended a visit to their brick and mortar retailer for help
  • Not wanting to go public during a pandemic, I re-boxed this device
  • Meanwhile, I wrote 2 monthly checks for a phone I could not stand
  • Eventually, I violated my tuff pandemic rules to visit the local store
  • The savvy techie needed barely two scant minutes to silence the GA

Naturally, I do recognize how folks, with vision issues, would find the Google Assistant a Godsend. Even so, I’m certain that they’d find being told the time 60 times per hour annoying, too!

Now… long sigh… not being one to complain sans dispensing any constructive criticism, at all…

Would not everybody’s lives be much easier if smart and stupid phone designers* would OPT-IN to making each fresh out of the box phone, just that, a basic phone?

Devices where the user would then need to OPT-IN to, NOT OPT-OUT of the damned bells and whistles.

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* Double entendre discovered and italicized while proof-reading.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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The Land of Opportunity; LOST

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Just yesterday, while blogging away this pandemic era’s wee hours, my Internet connection went AWOL, again; this time out, just as my virtual, clicking finger was poised over the aqua hued, WordPress “publish button”.

Well, rather than rushing thru a manual re-connection, I allowed my router to engage its auto-reboot function; all the while delivering my muttered pep talk to A-I: “C’mon, red light, turn true blue!” (all to no avail).

With the recalcitrant tech gremlin giddily turning its deaf ear to me, I soon found myself leaning back on my sofa, eyes closed, drifting in and out of dreamland; waiting for my brain to go into auto-reboot mode, too. Well, at least, that’s how I view the realm of REM sleep.

Fortunately, my unconscious mind’s counseling session helped me better connect to my life as it truly is; arrive at this first waking moment conclusion:

My existence within this godforsaken tech desert, is truly emblematic of existence within Michigan as a (w)hole.

Michigan: The Land of Opportunity; LOST

I suddenly began comparing my life to that of my very first WordPress follower; best described as a kindred spirit; how his life and times in California, had afforded him the very creative paths Michigan, invariably, had (has) denied me,

Oh how I wish my father had taken Horace Greeley’s “Go West, young man!” wisdom to heart; made better use of his teaching degree by seeking out the California public school houses. Had he done so…

Suffice to say / safe to say, I believe the Golden State would’ve been my golden opportunity; afforded me a far better chance to lead the life I never had.

I can only imagine what it’d be like to not be languishing in Michigan; squandering my writing, broadcasting and musical talents. And even were such a self-assessment invalid, at the very least, I’d have found more doors to knock on.

I can only wonder how different life, elsewhere, would’ve been.

  • How many novels would I have authored and published?
  • At what radio stations would I have hung my FCC license?
  • Would my keyboard skills have rocked me onto the stage?
  • Would I have met the love of a lifetime and married her?
  • Would we have considered going the parenthood route?
  • Would we be co-authoring memoirs of our life and times?

Inevitably, some will wisely point out that my shelf life might extend outward, as far as 2041. But, such an invisible, bar coded time stamp is merely quantitative. The qualitative perspective would suggest otherwise.

Lest anyone forget, the unforgiving light of our youth and beauty obsessed culture tends to blind potential employers.

Beyond that, how does one safely walk life’s path set against the backdrop of a global pandemic? Who knows how much longer the vaccines’ efficacy will last? How much more microbial crud remains within Corona-V’s dirty bag of tricks? How much of it “he” has yet to hurl at humanity?

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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Internet Interpretation

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Whoever thunk up the screwball notion of instantaneously,
meticulously logging, caching AND scrutinizing, every last
damned one of our online touchpad clicks, must be a pack
rat, who (24/7) painstakingly preserves every breadcrumb,
piece of lint, shed curly hair, icky booger & clipped toenail;
who, if/when reminded to flush afterwards, whines, “Why?”

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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An OS Oldie But Goodie Tune

Clip courtesy of CEO100able’s YouTube Channel • Jun 22, 2012 • 207,471 views

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Does social isolating inspire nostalgia? Frivolity? Boredom?

Am I the only one who misses Microsoft’s welcoming, computer tune?

Would it be going out on a limb to proclaim:

Nope, they don’t write ’em like this anymore!

Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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Beyond Words?

We, who blog on this platform, have now been given little choice but to adapt to the new WordPress Editor; “courtesy” of our well-meaning “keepers”. You know the type:

They, who love to go full-blown giddy whenever the opportunity arises to reinvent the wheel.

What a shame. Things had been rolling along quite well sans such a drastic change.

Coping with this mutation presents challenges to old farts like me. You know the type:

We, who spent our formative years playing with our blocks and other toys, within our non-computerized, no Internet access playpens.

Alas, those who run / ruin this platform had not stopped to consider how, oh, say, they could’ve allowed dinosaurs, like me, to totally opt out.

I suppose what’s done is done. Having little choice in the matter:

I’ll E – V – E – N – T – U – A – L – L – Y adapt.

But, I do find playing with their “blocks” a pain in the butt. For now, my best shot at stress management is to compose, offline, within a Word Document and then Copy and Paste each post over to the Editor and onto the Web.

Stated quite simply, my needing to jump thru even more hoops during 2020, an already challenging year, is just one more complication I do not need in my already pandemic ruined life.

Saving my biggest gripe for last, WordPress’s latest “innovation” doth fly in the face of my overall blogging philosophy:

If you need bells and whistles to grab your readers’ attention, perhaps, you never had anything of value to offer them in the first place.

Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

A double negative can be positive

 

During one ten year (evil?) spell, my kitchen’s built in electric oven managed to burn out three baking elements… each time in a dramatic, 220 volt flash of bright light.

Anyway, the last time that occurred (early 2010), I vowed it would be the last time. I’d have to be nuts to, ever again, get suckered into replacing one unreliable part with another… a component likely riddled with an inherent design flaw and/or shoddy workmanship. There’s even an apt, time-honored proverb that has my back…

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

There’s not even a contingency for a third time, mainly because nobody should ever be THAT foolish.

Well, it was soon afterwards that I switched the circuit breaker to “off” and repurposed this lemon of an oven into an additional storage compartment for pots and pans and its open door as a much needed additional workspace.

The bad news was that, just as I had begun my search for a new oven, many an appliance dealer told me that manufacturers no longer offer models small enough to neatly slide into my kitchen’s existing hardwood cabinetry. Long sigh.

Not wanting to incur the dust and debt of a major kitchen remodel… the bad news snowballed. No oven meant I could no longer bake, made from scratch, homemade bread, dinner rolls, pizzas and apple kuchens.

And so, I’ve settled for less… i.e., gone the toast route… well… that is until just recently. Alas, just as the pandemic had driven us into quarantine, my damned toaster went kaput. Now, I’ve gotta ask, just how the hell does such a device… and a reputable name-brand model at that… ever give up the ghost?

Seeing how I’d never want to become a COVID-19 ghost, I’ve had to back-burner toaster shopping, too.

And so, once more, I’ve settled for less… or might that be more? Lately, I started utilizing my double boiler to warm up store bought bread… usually configured as PB&J and jam only sandwiches.

I’ve gotta tell ya, this has been like a blast out of my distant past. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I’ve been scarfing down fresh outta the oven, made from scratch bread, which is nearly identical to what I used to bake.

Who’d have ever believed it possible that dual appliance breakdowns could prove an unlikely point… namely…

A double negative can be positive.

 

Stay Safe at Home! Stay Publicly Masked! Stay Healthy!

 

 

 

 

The DIY Pandemic Mechanic

 

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Not a new adage by any means but, against the unattractive backdrop of COVID-19, these very words did serve as my save my own butt, call to action. After all, the alternative would be to go out in public. The consequences might include getting gravely ill and, eventually, dropping dead. Now, on to my story…

“The Problem” arose about ten days ago. Just as I was completing my weekly yard work, years worth of metal fatigue had finally weakened my electric weed whacker’s, built into the handle, connection prongs. On the plus side, I was damned lucky they hadn’t totally broken off and lodged within the extension cord’s outlet.

Essentially, this was a device, with an otherwise perfectly functional motor, which had been rendered utterly useless. Ordinarily, I’d have hopped into my car, headed over to the nearest home improvement store and blown about fifty of my hard-earned dollars to purchase a replacement.

But, seeing how the malfeasance, negligence and ignorance of my homeland’s infantile leader had rendered running life’s simplest errands arduous and perilous, I rapidly scuttled such an undertaking. On the plus side, I may’ve even avoided a much too soon meeting with the undertaker, too.

However, unlike said “leader”, I realized I could avoid COVID-19 by donning my thinking cap and getting down to work.

After all, this involved a repair task that any self-respecting electrician could do in her / his sleep. And, since I do have approximately 30, mid 1970s era, electrical engineering college credits under my belt, I felt qualified to get ‘er done.

True, sans a manufacturer’s schematic diagram, I’d need to pay particularly close attention during disassembly… i.e., mentally map out the details of this device’s inner-workings (e.g., wiring, polarity issues, how the trigger switch interfaced, etc.).

The very fact that I’d need my Allen wrench to remove the handle’s five screws, amply emphasized the manufacturer’s public safety concerns. This was their way of posting a KEEP OUT / NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS WITHIN sign. I mean they certainly did not want DIY’ers getting electrocuted.

My game plan was to [1] sever the wires to the two prongs, remove and discard them, [2] strip off approximately two centimeters of each wire’s insulation, [3] splice on a short segment of similar grade wiring (with a preexisting attached plug) and [4] exit this wire out the old prongs’ preexisting apertures. My having two rolls of different color duct tape certainly did come in handy to address the wire polarity and new insulation issues.

Prior to reassembly I decided to run a test. To protect myself from potential electrocution, I donned a pair of insulating, plastic gloves (just in case I had, somehow, mucked this up). Triggering the motor, in an instant, it roared back to life (with absolutely no sparks flying / tripped circuit breaker). Tightening the five screws to secure the handle’s cover, it was Mission Accomplished!

Granted, I’d NEVER recommend repairs of a technical, potentially DANGEROUS nature to folks with no training. But, success such as mine, does demonstrate how, desperate times don’t necessarily require measures that are all that desperate. It is entirely possible for us to draw upon our own unique (sometimes latent) talents to work the problem… to reassert our DIY / can-do spirit.

Such an attitude will come in handy whenever a “leader’s” go-to-hell-you-are-on-your-own attitude is as good as it gets.

 

Stay Safe… Stay Home… Stay Healthy…

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Key Apollo 13 Mission Moments ~ Part 3

Well folks, what can I say… other than… “Houston, I’ve had a problem!” (Houston = WordPress Readers)…

Not unlike the actual, original Apollo 13, mission (04 / 11 – 17 / 1970), my originally planned mission to blog about… recreate / relive… the key moments of this flight had all started out well, but, within days, the problems began to pile up.

You see, against the backdrop of our raging global pandemic, I had prioritized that damned subject matter too damned much. I wound up losing sleep over it… so much so that, instead of keeping up with my detailed Apollo mission timeline transcript, I wound up snoozing through too many of the very events I should’ve been covering.

Obviously, since I could not go back in time to fix the problem (i.e., to synchronize / top off my posts with the appropriate WordPress timestamps), my premise “lost air”… not unlike how, following an explosion, the crippled Apollo Service Module had vented life sustaining oxygen into the unforgiving vacuum of deep space.

Fortunately, all’s not lost. There’s still one key event, ISO a timestamp, that’ll neatly wrap up this pandemic truncated series…

Yes, indeed, the very finest moment of the Flight of Apollo 13 occurred on this very day, when Command Module pilot Jack Swigert successfully navigated Apollo 13 through that unforgivingly narrow, 2° wide, reentry corridor. Following a fiery reentry through Earth’s atmosphere, Swigert, along with crewmates Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, finally made it home, splashed down in the South Pacific Ocean (coordinates 21°38′24″S 165°21′42″W) at 18:07:41 UTC or 12:07:41 CST… or stated more conventionally, at approximately 12:08 p.m. Houston time. From that moment, onward, the Flight of Apollo 13 would be dubbed: NASA’s successful failure mission.

A brief aside re our above clip… I’ve opted to go the Hollywood route because Director Ron Howard’s film far better captures the palpable tension and raw human emotion of the moment… and all set to the swell of a symphonic musical score that’s even backed by an angelic choir. We even get to witness the steely-eyed missile man, Flight Director Gene Kranz (portrayed by actor Ed Harris), blink back tears upon the realization that he / his entire ground crew’s ceaseless, concerted efforts had saved all three astronauts’ lives.

To this day, I still shudder at the mere thought of how Lovell, Swigert, and Haise had been one error in judgment away from becoming entombed within the inky, icy void of outer space… throughout eternity.

Checking my wristwatch I see this post’s “splash down” time is nearing… with just enough time for a few parting thoughts…

• NASA’s historic and heroic team effort… their flawless, improvised (literally on the fly) rescue mission… had been… still is… and shall… perhaps, throughout perpetuity… represent human ingenuity and resolve at it’s very finest.

• Seeing how, at present, humankind has monumental stumbling blocks to overcome, inclusive of an unpardonable, political leadership vacuum (of astronomical proportions), only God knows how long it’ll take before we Americans can even begin to reclaim our can-do spirit. It’s likely that the half-century old high bar, which NASA had established during Apollo 13’s week long mission shall remain out of reach for the foreseeable future.

• For now, from a technological standpoint, April 17, 1970 / 18:07:41 UTC, will remain humanity’s finest hour. We can only hope that someone… maybe some inventive soul, who’s yet to even be born… can equal or top this feat long before the final sentence of the final page of our story gets written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Key Apollo 13 Mission Moments ~ Part 2

SUBTITLE: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

 

As of my 10:06 p.m. (U.S.) blog posting time, on this very April 13th night, 50 years ago… and 56 hours into the mission of Apollo 13… catastrophic consequences erupted following a routine “housekeeping” chore of “stirring” the spacecraft’s liquid oxygen tanks… so grave a situation that this necessitated the moonward bound astronaut Jack Swigert’s Earthward transmission of this spine chilling distress call…

“Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Mere moments later his mission commander, Jim Lovell, echoed that message, nearly verbatim,

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Fred Haise, their crewmate, could’ve easily dittoed that, too, for all three of them were now “going down” with their rapidly “sinking” ship.

That S.O.S.… oft misquoted as “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” perhaps forevermore… will remain humanity’s phrase for calling attention to disasters great and small.

What happened next? Well, once Flight Director Gene Kranz’s ground crew had concluded that the quadruple failure of the spacecraft’s life sustaining hardware was irreparable, he had no other option but to immediately scrub the originally planned lunar landing and preside over the “launch” of a (literally on-the-fly) rescue mission.

Step one was to repurpose the Lunar Module into that of a lifeboat. The big problem… that craft was only intended to keep two astronauts alive for far less hours than it would take to get all three astronauts back to Earth… alive and well.

Up until April 17th, via my subsequent YouTube clip enhanced blogs, I’ll be recreating more key moments to chronicle the Apollo 13 rescue mission… NASA’s historic and heroic team effort… which will showcase human ingenuity and resolve at it’s very finest.

Stay tuned…