Saturday, November 1, 2014


Happy Halloween to those who celebrate that holiday.  I prefer to think of it as Samhain.  That has less of a commercial taint.  And it has a bit more of the flavor of the change of seasons.  We'll feel that today.  The temperatures right now are in the low 40s but will fall over the day.  We had rain overnight and may get slushy snow before the day is our.  That may be driven by high winds.  Poor kids trick-or-treating this afternoon.

For years technology, especially It or computer tech, has been peddled as a panacea that will make life easier, more efficient and more productive.  The health care industry has been the latest to fall under the spell of the magic technology and the Federal government has been the head cheerleader on the project to reap the fantastic savings and efficiencies.  As usual in such cases the the promise is well mixed with frustration and the results haven't lived up to the promise.  We belong to a seniors' group that meets for breakfast and a talk on medical topics each month.  The group is hosted by the major local hospital so, naturally, the hospital and services are highlighted but the info is good.  We have had a couple of talks that touched on records and each time several members complained about lost records, inaccurate records, difficulty accessing records, and having to answer the same questions every time the see a doctor the answer which then have to be input into the records system.  It seems that the ease, efficiency, accuracy, and productivity have been over promised and under delivered.

I saw a report last night about a vote in Alaska on legalizing recreational marijuana use which might, if passed, take away the local options that have been available.  The account claimed that laws on marijuana use are quite liberal and much of the regulation is left to local communities some of which control it more strictly.  Evidently, the election has attracted a lot of outside money and personnel which the locals are not happy about.  My reaction: get used to it.  After all out of state money and activists entered the efforts against gay marriage in California and a lot of corporate money (read Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta) was applied to the votes on labeling GMOs in Washington and other states.  We have seen former NYC mayor Bloomberg inserting himself and his money into Illinois elections.  The line between local and national has been blurred for some time now.  The Founding Fathers may have set up a system of divided powers and responsibilities between Federal and state governments but I doubt they ever foresaw a time when the population would reach the 312 million it is now or a time when communication between distant parts of the country could take place at the speed of light or a time when people could travel from ocean to ocean in hours instead of months.


Welcome to November and Dia de los Muertos.  Yesterday was nasty: rain, rain/snow mix, sleet and high winds--really high winds.  As a result we had no kids coming around trick-or-treating.  Oh, well--we will freeze most of the candy.  We woke to inside temps in the low 60s so we put the heat on for the first time.  We keep the setting at 68.  Doesn't sound like much of a difference but we can feel it.  I brought out my favorite heavy shawl and we put our heavier blankets on the beds.

We spent most of the last two days trying to find an indoor antenna we could use here.  Our ultimate goal was to disconnect completely from Comcast.  We have debated the cable service for the last six years or so as the charges went up and the satisfaction went down.  Two factors fueled our debates: how happy we were with the programming and how satisfied we were with Comcast's customer service.  Most of the channels we used to enjoy have been taken over by the "reality show" craze which neither of us like at all.  And the customer service should really have been called customer disservice. We finally decided to change.  Our first choice was to cancel cable entirely, install the antenna to get our local channels for news, and sign up for Netflix.  Well we tried three different successively stronger antennas but none really worked well.  We are simply too far away from the transmission towers.  So we shifted to plan B: change our service to simple basic, which cut our bill by about 60%,  and sign up for Netflix.  The conversation Mom had with the company rep ran true to form:  the woman couldn't seem to understand the simple instruction to change to simple basic and leave our computer service as is.  The process took a good 20 minutes as she tried to get us to take one of their limited-time specials which wouldn't really address the major complaint: too much for too little.  And, of course, she pushed their Voice service which we have repeatedly told them we don't want.

And having just written the above paragraph what do I find?  This piece on "throttling," a word that has been in the tech news just lately.  Another case of companies behaving badly.

I love this cartoon posted on Bob Cesca's blog.

I have read several sociological/political writings whose authors have posited the notion that the U.S. is entering a new Dark Age.  With news stories like this one, I would say we are already there.

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