A Mouse in the House

A mouse in the house with five cats in it;

You’d think any sensible mouse would split—

But no; five cats plus a plug-in pest eradicator

Still let a mouse slip in like a non-paying spectator!

It wouldn’t be so bad

If this was the only mouse we had—

But this one makes Number Four

Of all the others we’ve had before.

However, our cats are much too picky

To soil their teeth with a creature so icky

They only want to chase it and play—

I’m the one who wants the dang thing to go away!

 

Technology 100, Me 0

Ever since I heard of this newest massive world-wide hack called “Wanna Cry,” I have experienced all of the five stages of technology frustration:

  1. Fear that my contacts, emails, personal information and worst of all, my blog will be hacked and will be gone forever.
  2. Panic that I will have to hand over $300 in bitcoins (I still have no idea what these are, but am pretty sure that would mean money out of my pocket) to some anonymous cyber terrorist to get everything back.
  3. Anger that I will have to figure out how to change all my passwords and information all over again (because I never bothered to write down how to do all that as I thought at the time, ‘oh, I won’t forget THAT.’)
  4. Regret that I didn’t pay enough attention to the handy how-to page that used to be easy to find, but seems to have disappeared now.
  5. Acceptance that I am a complete boob with technology and wish I just had a typewriter with carbon paper again.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have little patience with technology, and am one of the loudest doomsayers about where technology will eventually take us. But I’m not alone; here are some actual facts I’ve read lately:

  1. By 2030, the prediction is that there will ONLY be driverless cars; no humans driving their own vehicles. Hey, I’m not the best driver, but I’d rather take my chances than have a machine shaped like a car drive me around.
  2. Smart phones have become so sophisticated that many cannot be opened no matter what kind of court order wants them opened. This would be in the case of missing persons, child abuse, extortion, etc. Excuse my ignorance, but won’t that be a bad thing in the short and long run?
  3. In about 30 to 40 years, old farts like us may be cared for by robots. Yes, I said actual robots. Seriously, seeing a caretaker unit trundle to my bed would probably scare me to death anyway.
  4. Since we seem to be losing our abilities to do simple tasks like remember phone numbers, plan a budget, sew, cook, raise a child to be a responsible adult, what will happen if all our technology implodes under its own weight?

But why should I worry about these so-called eventualities? In twenty years or so they’ll probably ship all of us walking antiques to our own country on Mars. Oh, those in charge will tell us that we are explorers but they will probably just want to get rid of us since we all complain too much about technology…..

The “Side-Along” Driver and Other Annoyances

We all know people who seem to want to run our lives better than we do; you know the type. They can be naggers, buttinskis, tattletales, know-it-alls, and lately; the “side-along” driver.

Naggers like to nag, buttinskis like to poke their noses into other peoples’ business, tattletales like to dish the dirt on everyone, know-it-alls feel that they know everything about everything—and you can’t tell them differently.

Then there is what I call the ‘side-along’ driver. You’re driving, you know where you’re going, and you’re fully aware of the traffic. You are about to make a left-hand turn, but see a car in the distance coming from the other direction. Something tells you not to make that turn just yet, so you don’t. It is at this time that the side-along driver yells, “GO! Go, go, already!”

When I am driving, I drive my way. When someone else is driving, they can drive their way. I don’t like being shouted at, and I certainly don’t want to do something that I’m not ready that I don’t feel right about.

When someone else is driving, I may not agree with everything they do. In fact, there are times when I have had to clutch the seat and keep my mouth shut at the same time. What keeps me sane is thinking, ‘well, I wouldn’t do it that way, but I’m not driving.’ Plus I hope that some seriously strong angels are watching over me.

So why do all the naggers, buttinskis, tattletales, know-it-alls, and “side-along” drivers do what they do? I think that many people just want to be in control of everything at all times. It gives them a sense of security and purpose, and it may be the only thing that keeps them going each day.

How do I know this? I know this because at several times in my life I have been all those annoying things, and more. Once I realized the harm I was causing I was horrified; I had become one of “those” people. Oh, it hadn’t gotten to the point where the villagers were coming after me with torches and pitchforks, but it was close.

So each day I try not to judge or demand that everyone do things my way. I have to keep telling myself, ‘you take care of your own life; let others take care of theirs.’ I try not to offer opinions unless asked, and I especially try not to be annoyed, upset or impatient. It’s a tall order, and I’m working on it every day.

Besides, trying to make people do things your way is like trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.

Political Poetry

A is for Awful—

For all the mud-slinging and complaining

That make my ears both burn and ring.

B is for Bragging—

From both parties boasting

They all should be in hell roasting.

C is for the Candidates—

Who lie over and over and over again

And look upon all of us with undisguised disdain.

D is for the Democracy—

We used to know and love

Seems to have left our thinking like a bolt from above.

E is for Equal—

Which we used to count on in years past

Has left our vocabulary with all this bombast.

F is for Flim-Flam—

Like those liars who blab on about equality

And how they’ll make everything right, except their own frivolity.

G is for the Government—

Which seems to have closed its ears and eyes

To these wolves in sheeps’ guise.

H is for Hatred—

For you and for me

And all of us who don’t grow money on trees.

I is for Intellect—

Which appears to have left the political scene

Instead social media has become as mean as your average teen.

J is for all the Jerks—

Who feel that the laws apply to all but them

And keep adding to the country-wide mayhem.

K is for Kick-back—

Who knows how much of our bucks

Has all gone for political nips and tucks?

L is for the Liars and thieves—

Who encourage us to keep our heads in the sand

While they swiftly pick our pockets with both hands.

M is for Money—

That greases the machine

That keeps us mired up in the same old regime.

N is for News hawks—

Who fill our ears and our minds

With about as much content as a bag of pork rinds.

O is for Oligarchy—

Meaning all good things for the few

And crumbs for the rest of us all to chew.

P is for Politics—

Where one hand pats your back

And the other hand is a kleptomaniac.

Q is for Question—

Of which we ought to do more

To hear and to find out what we’re all in for.

R is for Rip-off—

From our wallets and banks

With never so much as a murmured ‘thanks.’

S is for Sneaks—

Those who practice all but the rules

And treat us all like broken tools.

T is for Truth—

Which now seems to be in short supply

Just watch the news and you’ll know why.

U is for United—

As a country we once stood

Now it’s hard to find peace in our own neighborhood.

V is for Volunteer work—

Which used to be given much more than today

Now fewer people are giving their time away.

W is for Who, What, When and Why—

We haven’t heard these fairly in I don’t know when

But it won’t be long before they herd us in pens.

X is for X-ray—

And don’t we wish we could see one

For the brains of every politico, sycophant, liar and bum.

Y is for Yappers—

Who about the candidates have too much to say

And who really needs to hear them anyway?

Z is for Zenophobe

A stranger in a strange land once said,

“I thought I found refuge, but instead found dread.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politics, Shmolitics

Well, it’s politics, politics, politics again everywhere you look, and especially here in New Hampshire. TV and radio ads, robo-calls night and day, great big flyers that clog up your mailbox, and earnest young people who are absolutely sure that you want nothing more than to spend 20 minutes of your life on the phone with them doing a political survey. May I just say–enough, already.

When the political ads come one after the other, each candidate making outlandish promises, I usually yell at the TV: “WHERE’S THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM, <insert whatever political talking head you choose here>?”

Yes, that’s right–that’s about where my priorities are now at my age. When I hear someone promise free this and free that and free everything else, I have to wonder from whose pockets they think all this largess is going to spill.

Anyone who has read any Robert Heinlein is familiar with the phrase *TANSTAAFL, which means “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Basically it means that you never get something for nothing.

There is also a great show tune about politics from the Broadway hit, “Fiorello,” called “Politics and Poker.” The verse I remember best is this:

“Politics and Poker, Politics and Poker
Shuffle up the cards and find the joker
Neither game’s for children
Either game is rough
Decisions, decisions, like:
Who to pick
How to play
What to bet
When to call a bluff!”

Politics is a game, too. People tend to forget that, but it is a game nonetheless. The one thing I will share with you about my personal view of politics is this: choose the candidate that will do the least amount of harm, and, in the case of the presidential election–take a good look at the kind of people that they will bring with them.

Here’s a good analogy: let’s say that Batman and Superman are running for president. You like Batman because he has a mission and he is mysterious. But you also like Superman because he cares about people and he’s powerful. Now Batman has announced that, should he win the election, he is going choose Robin as Vice President.

Superman, on the other hand, has announced that, should he win, he is going to choose Captain America as Vice President. As a voter, your job is to research not only the presidential candidates on the subjects and causes you believe in, but also those of the vice presidential candidates.

Now while Batman might make a good president, we all know that Robin is pretty much just a jovial sidekick with no real mojo. However, while Superman would make also make a good president, Captain America would definitely be a kick-ass VP.

IMPORTANT NOTE: By all means do the research, but understand that the information you’re going to find will be biased. So just do the best you can, decide for yourself, be as well-informed as possible. Failing that, just hope for the best.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: All opinions in this post are strictly the opinions of me, the writer. I am the writer, and as such, I approve this post.

*The phrase and the acronym are central to Robert Heinlein’s 1966 science-fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which helped popularize it.

Ohhhh, Technology!

Look, I will admit that I am a pretty low-tech person. I have a desktop computer, a flip-phone, and no personal devices. I have the computer to email, write this blog, have an Etsy site, look up interesting stuff, and sometimes catch up on a show I missed. That’s really about it.

Then there are all the frequently changing tech terms. I worked at a business in 2013 and was ask to “ping” someone. I had never heard the term before, and was thinking “Huh? What means this ‘ping’ of which you speak?” So I had to ask someone how to do it. Basically, it means to interrupt someone via computer in whatever they are doing so they will answer you. I do get the having to have info right-now-today, but what I mainly saw it used for was saving someone the apparently tiresome trouble of calling/emailing/paging someone, or walking down to their desk or knocking on the restroom door.

I have never gotten used to people talking (always loudly too, it seems) on their cell phones in public or worse, via Blue Tooth (these folks look like they are just babbling to themselves until you see the device clamped to one ear….). And don’t I hate to hear ring tones and cell phone chatter when I am out having lunch alone with a good book! But a new phenomenon has risen its noisy and intrusive self: people using  their devices to play loud games, loud videos, loud music, and kids’ loud cartoons (yep, complete with all the requisite booms, bings, bongs, bleeps, bloops and boings) in public places so that we ALL can enjoy them. We can “enjoy” all this in restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, out in the park, traveling via bus, plane, etc. Seriously–do we all have to be entertained every second of every day? And do we have to inflict it on every person around us?

What’s happened to reflection, thinking, introspection, listening to the sounds of nature, and talking with friends (I mean actual flesh-and-blood humans, not Facebook “friends”)? It used to be that you went out with your significant other to be alone with each other, appreciate each other, speak with each other, and enjoy each others company. But these days it seems more and more that true love is for the best devices, not people.

Back when I was growing up, Sunday drives were common practice and it was pretty much what you did for entertainment on that last weekend day. While I sat in the back seat, listening to Mom and Dad talking about all sorts of things, I would be looking at everything, imagining things, sometimes singing a little to myself and best of all, just thinking my thinks. If we were on a long-ish trip, we might play the license plate game or sing together, but mostly we just were enjoying being together. That’s a far cry from today’s constant and never-ending entertainment.

Believe me, I am not anti-technology–not at all. I just believe that it has its own place–I just don’t like it that it’s in EVERY place!

 

“I Didn’t Know I Had to PAY For That!”

The other day I was having a very pleasant lunch at a restaurant I like. I had a good book to read, my favorite salad and a large iced tea. This is one of the little treats I give myself from time to time, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Gradually I became aware of a couple at the next table. They were complaining about the electronic doohickey that restaurants are starting to place at every table; you can pay your bill on it, listen to music, play games, and so on. I’ve never used one; I just give the waiter my card and ignore the doohickey.

The couples’ voices gradually grew louder as they became more indignant. The wife said, “Well, if I had KNOWN I had to pay for that little game I played, I never would have done it!”

Her husband grunted agreement, and said, “Yeah, that’s how they make more money off ya.”

The wife said, “Well, there should be some kind of sign somewhere telling you that these things are not free; I mean, how should I know? We’re older; we don’t know about all this techno-babble!”

The husband grunted assent and called the waiter over. The wife repeated her little ‘how should they know they had to pay’ speech.

I give the waiter credit for his patience and courtesy. He explained that, when you open up an application such as a game, the charge is listed on the screen. The wife sniffed and said that she didn’t see that. The husband grunted again about what a ripoff it was. The wife said indignantly ‘we’re older people, you know! We don’t do all this fancy-schmancy technology!’

At this point I was rolling my eyes. The waiter said kindly that, since they didn’t know, he would comp the cost for them this time (which I believe was a whole $1.99). They grumped once again about how those screen messages could be clearer, ‘so that a person would KNOW.’ I don’t believe that I heard a ‘thank you’ to the waiter, though.

The kicker? As this couple left, she pulled out her top-of-the-line iPhone, and he put on his BlueTooth ear piece!!!

Just when you think you’ve seen it all….