Monthly Archives: December 2021

Ohh, Goody…Updates

Apple has decided I need help streamlining things with my phone. They wanted to make things EASIER for me. When I wanted to go to one of my many appointments, I USED to set up the appointment, set the travel time from location-based, and save it. Then when I needed to go, I’d simply find the appointment and click on it, then hit the map provided, get the directions and then GO. It would then give me the turn-by-turn instructions, and it would talk to me through my car. “At the next light, turn left onto 120th Street.”

Now, after they improved the system, I tap on the appointment, tap on the map provided, and instead of directions, I get a 2″ x 2″ map that is so small I can’t read the street names. It doesn’t “recalculate” or tell me to “return to the route” if I miss a turn. This is NOT helping.

They also decided I couldn’t have all those pictures on my phone so I must put them in my dropbox. No clue what that means, but I got a dropbox. Did it download all hundreds of pictures from my phone into my computer? Nope. They’re on my phone and in my dropbox. Not my computer. I wanted a specific picture of my granddaughter at her cross country meet. The only picture it would show me is my husband sitting against a lamp post with the little granddaughter hugging her aunt Megan whose back was toward me. No pictures of my runner. I had to hit 2 more buttons (mostly by chance) to get the picture.

And now, CHI has decided it needs to make things easier as well. I used to go into my account, Choose payment (which was near the top of the page) and then enter the amount of my payment. They have a new billing site separate from the clinic site. It tells me to enter my patient number or my e-mail (I tried both), my DOB, and my name. I get “Account Not Found.” What? How do you think I got to this site? FROM MY ACCOUNT, D’YA THINK? So I can’t pay my bill.

Then my car had to get into the act. Since I could no longer get audible instructions from my not-so-smart phone, I went to OnStar to get them. They had decided since last month, that I didn’t need to be bothering real people with directions and so they automated the process.

A recorded voice said, “If you would like directions, please say yes.”
“Yes” …
“If you would like directions, please say yes.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand your answer. If you would like directions, please say yes, or ask for a representative.I might by this time have missed all my exits and am headed out to Ashland now. I did, however, reply, “YES” for the third time.

“Thank you!” says the cheery computer voice that you might have heard on the Heart of Gold spaceship in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. “What address would you like? Please give the street number, the city, and the state.”
“21436 Hickory Lane, Omaha, Nebraska,” I cheerfully replied.
“That’s 1436 Hickory Lane. Dickie’s Dog Doodoo, is that correct?”
“436 Hickory lane is 5 miles from your current location. Sara’s Hair Salon. is that correct?”
“2436 Hickory lane is 6 miles from your current location. David’s Drug Den and Murder house. Is that correct?”
“Please repeat your address.”
I figured the computer didn’t expect 5 numbers, so I would combine them and see if it understood that better. “Twenty-one four thirty-six Hickory Lane”
“There appear to be two addresses, would you please say just one address at a time?”
“Thank you, I will connect you to a representative.”

“Hello Mrs. Fegan, How are you?”
“I’m lost thank you. How are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you for asking. How can I help you today?”
“I need directions to 21436 Hickory Lane in Omaha, Nebraska.”
“Instructions are being routed to your car.”
“Thank you.”
“Thank you for using OnStar. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No, that will be fine. Have a great day,” I said in my cheery voice.
“Thank you and you too!”

Does the first conversation indicate that the process was easier for me? Was it easier for the disembodied voice that couldn’t understand the word “yes?” Was it more efficient for the computer when it spent extra time looking up the wrong addresses? Or was the conversation shorter, more accurate, and more pleasant when I was talking to a Pakistani working the midnight shift who understood me without effort?

I get to the round-about on Hickory Lane and the car says, “You are arriving at your destination. Directions will now stop.” Oh? Wait! This doesn’t look the least bit familiar. My phone doesn’t say a thing, but it shows I can walk to my destination if I wanted to. Then, it gives me a map, but it doesn’t say which direction I should go because the street names are too small. I try zooming in and the streets get gigantic. I can actually see individual bits of gravel, but the names still remain microscopic. I stop at what I think is the correct address. I am not sure because since privacy issues have surfaced, nobody puts their address on the mailbox or on the house or on the curb… Or they use muted colors on their beige or tan houses like camouflage. I get greeted by a friendly woman and her friendly dog that jumps up and licks my elbow and introduces himself to my leg. No, Chloe doesn’t live here. I’ve been in the neighborhood for two months so I don’t know any of my neighbors. She points me toward the round-about where the instructions quit. I spot a house number hidden behind a bush and discover the numbers are going the wrong way, so I head in the opposite direction my helpful neighborhood lady pointed. Silly me! She had a package on her front porch and I could have deduced the address from the label. It didn’t occur to me. I did find the house a half block down the road.

I believe I posted about this before. I wish they would just QUIT HELPING ME! Every time I get an update from any of my devices, it assumes that I’m getting stupider and stupider.

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, My phone will analyze my calendar and set my wake-up time to allow for breakfast and morning ablutions. At the appointed time, my bed will throw me into my closet and my phone will inform my dresser to pick out the appropriate clothes for the activities and the prevailing weather. The coffee maker will start up and the grill will turn on at the 7-minute mark during my shower. At 15 minutes, the water will stop, the drain will disgorge any possible clogging debris and the door will open for me to exit the shower. The Automatic squeegee will wipe down the shower as I put on my clothes and comb my hair. As I brush my teeth, a needle will prick the finger I have placed on the outline on the countertop and check my blood sugar levels. Over a certain level, the cabinet with the sugar, syrup, and jam or jelly will lock and determine my breakfast choices. My phone will then run down my appointments for the day and assign duties to the other appliances. It will lock the TV so I can’t accidentally binge NCIS or Blue Bloods. My computer will not allow me access to Facebook. I will dutifully sit in my computer chair and drool and stare until it is time for me to go to bed. At that point, the chair will turn away from the computer, the monitor will go dark, and it will roll me into my room where I will put on my jammies and go to bed for the prescribed amount of time…

I know what you’re doing. You think you have discovered our plans. We’ve decided to accelerate the implementation. That was not a glucose test this time. You will feel nothing and awake refreshed and compliant. Have a pleasant day.

Let me be the tactical adviser!

I have never fired a weapon in my life. I have never gone to firearms training, tactical training, or strategic training either for the military or police…because I am NOT military or police. BUT I watch lots of procedural police shows.

I was watching one where the Texas Ranger was in the house of his paramour who happened to be a bad guy. Her cohorts broke down the door and started shooting with their fully automatic weapons. In the blink of an eye, our hero tips back the couch he was on to give him cover. I HAVE had upholstery training. Couches, the good ones, have oak frames. They have springs wired together for support, hog hair to keep the springs from damaging the filling, and cotton batting for comfort. The cheap couches have pine frames, springs of less tensile strength, and foam rubber for comfort. You can tip a good couch but only if you are strong and have help because oak is heavy. The high tensile strength of the springs might serve to deflect bullets, but the batting and the hog hair would not. Since our hero tipped the couch himself, we must assume it was a cheaper model. (After all, if you’re going to have to do more than one take on the fight scene, you don’t want to use an expensive couch!) The pine frame would be useless against most bullets, and we know that the manufacturers will not use much wood in their creations. They may use 3/4 -inch plywood to support the springs.

Our poor hero, hiding behind fluff and pine, should be Swiss Cheese. Our bad guys are standing in the doorway firing fully automatic weapons and hitting the wall behind the couch, the end tables, the lamps. They must have gone to the Storm Trooper Training Facility. With the couch on its back, one strafing from arm to arm of the couch and close to the floor would take him out.

But noooooooooooooooooooooo.

The next thing I noticed was that the intruders didn’t intrude. They broke down the door and started firing willy nilly into the living room. Then they stopped firing so our hero could get some shots in with his little handgun. It was a cute little silver deal and looked like it could shoot water or light your cigarette. So he’s firing over the back of the couch without looking at his target because, well, “Don’t stick your head up to see your opponents if they are shooting automatic weapons at you!” He has no idea where his bullets are going. But he knows that when he fires, they don’t. He doesn’t use this break in their attack to find a better hiding place. Both intruders had automatic weapons–both firing simultaneously. They couldn’t see their target, but they knew he was behind the couch. They also knew he was the only target in the apartment that was armed. They didn’t come into the apartment! The door is a bottleneck. It makes them stationary targets. If one had put down suppressing fire (into the couch) the other could have entered and advanced on the good guy. Then he could fire from a different angle to distract the good guy while his partner entered the room to flank him.

But noooooooooooooooooooooo.

Of course, if the good guy had moved from behind the couch to a new position, he could have picked them off as they came into the room because they’d still be shooting at the couch. I’m shaking my head.

Next scenario:

The detective and his partner are running down a guy who was instrumental in a murder and they know he’s the only one that can tell them who the mastermind behind the murder is. They chase him into an open space and lo and behold, there are 8-10 other cops there, weapons drawn. “Give it up! You got NOWHERE to go! You’re surrounded!”

Indeed, he is standing in a circle of cops…a circle. None of them has taken cover. Our intrepid detective sees the panic in his target’s eyes turn to determination. He is going to commit suicide by cop. The detective is telling him to get on his knees and the guy does not comply. He walks toward him, trying to talk him out of his decision, and at one point tells the other officers to lower their weapons. They are lowered but not holstered as is protocol. The target slowly moves his hand from above his head to his waistband where his weapon is. WE do not know if he’s going to drop the weapon or draw on the officers. Those officers behind him do not have the closed-captioned monitor to observe his actions, they just see him dropping one hand.

Among the first rules you would learn in firearms safety is to not only pay attention to your target but to scope out what is beyond your target. You cannot control the bullet after it leaves your gun. Remember that the target is in a circle of cops? So even though those cops behind the target cannot see what he’s doing, they fire on the suspect. If the suspect had gone down quickly instead of acting, the 2nd and 3rd bullets would have hit our detective and his partner. Because he is acting, even though he has been hit in the lung, the liver, and the heart, he remains standing and slowly crumples to his back. You can see that the bullets have traveled through and through his torso because he has both entry and exit wounds. Where did the bullets go after they pierced him? Into the cops on the other side of the circle? Oops

While the detective was slowly walking toward our suspect and talking him down, why wasn’t another cop walking up behind him to subdue him while the suspect was distracted? Oh, because if the suspect had gone for the gun, the detective would have fired and gotten both the officer and the suspect.

In a press defense in basketball, you get two people to stop the progress of the offensive player by trapping him in a corner or near the side of the court. If the offensive player with the ball is in center court, you have to put three people on him to stop him. In a situation where our suspect was in the center of an area, he has too many options. You want to “herd” him to a point where the only option is to surrender, you put him up against a wall or a corner.

Of course, every cop that faces this situation knows that if you speak in logical terms, the suspect will acknowledge your wisdom and make a rational decision. It’s like arguing with your toddler on the benefits of sleep and expecting him to bow to your deductions and accept your conclusion. HA! The detectives all start with, “You don’t want to do this! We can work something out…” And every time… they go for the gun and either aim it at the police or blow their brains out. OF COURSE, THEY WANT TO DO THIS! It’s the easy, quick answer.

You have to make an emotional appeal. The suspect is in full-on emotional panic. Logic will have NO effect. “How do you think your loved ones would prefer you–dead or alive? Do you think the outcome is hopeless? If I could give you an alternative, would you at least consider it? Officer Smith, could you come up and relieve our suspect of his gun, please? The rest of the officers, make sure there is nobody behind the suspect so if shots need to be fired, there are no collateral damages. I promise you will not be hurt if you follow my suggestions.”

It doesn’t make good TV or Movies, but it might in real life. Any police officers out there, please look at this and see if I’ve misjudged the situation. If I have, PLEASE enlighten me!

The coolest arrest I’ve ever seen was when this kid was robbing a fast food joint. He and his partner tied up the manager and the rest of the crew and they walked out into the parking lot. Apparently, my call to the police had been heeded and they came in without lights and siren and parked away from the building, blocking the exits. That way, no new customers came in and our thieves would not get out easily. They were unaware of the circumstances outside the building. One of the officers was behind the dumpster where the thieves had parked their car, and one was stationed at the freezer door. The kids sauntered out of the building, and the policeman behind the door walked up behind them with his gun in one kid’s back and his finger to the other’s back, and said quietly in his deep, deep voice, “You are under arrest.” One of them peed his pants. “Now boys, get down on your knees and lace your fingers behind your head.” The officer’s partner revealed himself, weapon leveled, and moved toward the boys. The backup police helped gather them up and read them their rights and put them in the car. They took the money as evidence. Then the one with the deep voice went in and made sure the manager and the crew were ok, and he stayed to ask questions.

The Fall of mice

So this really happened. I thought it was some sort of dystopian story with a moral that indicated that capitalism is bad or socialism is bad, and followed by a lot of “Yada yada” nonsense proving that economic models rarely live up to the hype.

Instead…I came to the conclusion that society will be healthy if everyone has a part in it. And it can’t be a token part, it must be a part that is respected and treated fairly. Then I looked at the economic model. The distribution of resources in a capitalist economy is based on the economic value of contributions to society. If you provide a very rare commodity, you are compensated with more value. If your contribution is small and common, you get less value for your time, effort, and investment. What do Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk contribute to the economy? What do college football coaches contribute? What do nurses contribute? How can you compare the value of those contributions in society? Apples and oranges.

In a socialist or communist economy, everyone’s contributions are combined for the good of the society, and resources are distributed in a way that everyone gets what is needed. In a small village, you have one Shaman, one healer, a few hunters, a few gatherers, some to prepare the daily meals, some to help provide and maintain shelter, some to help and provide protection, and someone that passes on wisdom from one generation to the next. Everyone commits to the “tribe” and has a job of some sort that they offer to the tribe. The person passing on the wisdom may do that every day, as will those that prepare meals. The hunters may not go out every day, and neither may the gatherers. Those that provide and maintain shelter may not have to do that on an everyday basis either. The healer may not have patients every day, nor the shaman. Situations could arise where people could get upset sharing food they prepared to people who do not appear to have to work every day. If hunters are unsuccessful, the whole tribe goes hungry. If the healer is unsuccessful, people in the tribe die. Jealousy sticks up its ugly head.

But looking at this Universe 25 experiment, it seems obvious to me that the control of the resources is at the center of this experiment. Mice are not capitalists or socialists, they are scavengers. There was plenty of food. There was plenty of nesting material. There were no predators. There was no need to fight over resources. In fact, though there were territorial skirmishes, no one mouse could control all the outlets to the food. Adult males with no status in the group withdrew. Adult females with no status went to the beauty shop, and they preened themselves endlessly. At the same time, they rejected any type of mating behavior. None of these withdrawn mice had any role in the colony. Some of the mice became aggressive and territorial and that gave them a perceived place in this society. Some of the female mice were prolific but didn’t provide for their pups. In fact, there were some that forgot they were mothers! Others actually killed and ate their offspring. It is not the economic model that is to blame; it is the nature of our relationships to the society we belong to and the members we share it with.

But…like all the mice, we have adequate food and materials needed to live and live well by human standards.

When sin came into the world, it affected all of life, even mice. I can picture Moyshe Mouse leading his fellows across the creek on dry land while the Pharoah Mouse sends his minions to bring them back…

In this season of Advent, our concentration is on repentance. Live in a way that shows our gratitude for being forgiven for our fallen nature. Do not be greedy. Do not seek for something you have not earned. If you see someone in need and you have what they don’t, share it. Do your work to the very best of your ability. Treat everyone with respect. We don’t have to be mice.