Technology that is sufficiently advanced may seem like magic, but technology that is stupid and unguided by human sensibilities is just plain creepy. Like much of it.There are too many examples, and I don’t know where to start.

Well, it all started this morning with a comment someone made on Facebook–that the “people you may know” feature on Facebook sometimes pointed you to people that, let’s say, you already knew, but wish you didn’t. In a similar way, I was shown an old post featuring my recently passed wife. Not the end of the world, but, hey, leave me alone. You don’t know shit, Facebook algorithm!

I read an article on some media outlet about one of the mass shootings that had taken place somewhere and alongside the article was a “cleverly” placed, relevant ad for handguns. Seriously?

It goes on and on, but the thing is, this sort of technology does NOT help us. It is simply the result of an effort on the part of advertisers (and social media platforms) to optimize their marketing, and when totally unguided by any human intervention, as I suspect is always the case, it is insensitive, and becomes coarse and offensive and obnoxious. We let it get this way and put up with it because we feel we are powerless to change it. We also buy grossly off-color fluorescent lightbulbs and ridiculously bright LED bulbs because that’s what the industry has decided we’re going to get. They’re probably cheaper to manufacture.

By the way, we also put up with comically inferior sound quality in cell phones, and everything else that’s wrong with cell phones, and pay tons of money for them, but that’s another rant.

So I repeat myself (if you know me) and say that technology is supposed to help mankind. Ask Buckminster Fuller. Instead, we are letting corporations use technology to game us, and to replace us and pry our money away from us rather than to help us.

My apologies to anyone or any thing associated with technology that actually DOES help us. It’s out there and I freely admit that. I do think, however, that we should keep a closer eye on all of it, on how much it is costing us, and how it may even be harming us, if not just plain annoying us.

Since this is the weekly peeve, I end with my favorite peevy expression: “That said,” everyone have a good week. Stay warm, safe, and don’t have a war.

The Weather

I don’t care what anyone says, I think the weather has been unusually weird this winter. I’m sure the “average” temperature was typical, but the ups and downs have been more extreme than I ever remembered. I was commenting to that effect just yesterday when one of the maintenance people here at the apartment tower remarked that “just yesterday” he was outside barbecuing, wearing flip flops, shorts and a T-shirt, and today he didn’t even want to step outside because it was 9 degrees. I agreed. And this pattern has occurred this winter about four or five times so far.

It’s snowing at the moment, but it’s not so bad.

For the Love of Writing

Here is my response to the questions posed in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble Prompt #12

The first question, No. 1) When did you first discover your love of writing? 

This was about during the 5th or 6th grade. I tried to write a book that was a rip-off of the Wizard of Oz, only my Dorothy was a beatnik (it was 1959, right?) and the tornado was a whirlwind of dust as he changed his bedsheets. Don’t analyze me. At the same time, I started writing letters. Weirdly, they were much like my blog posts in later life, and I always tried to be funny. I won’t even insult you by adding the hackneyed phrase, “with varying degrees of success.”

2.) Would you say that you found your imagination at a young age or when you became older? If you want to, share something you discovered with your imagination. (Be sure to copyright your post 🙂 )

I think my imagination grew along in step with my childhood development. In hindsight I recognize I had ADD–the distracted, daydreaming kind–so I guess I had ready-made access to my imagination. I was a poor student, but when I was a high school senior I took a creative writing class, and it was the one class I enjoyed and therefore never cut. One day the teacher leaned a push broom and a squeegee against the chalk board and told us to write about them. I thought it was stupid so my paper began with, “If by some sweep of the hand of God all the push brooms and squeegees were suddenly removed from the face of the Earth, it’s certain cataclysmic results would ensue. It went on, with lots of sarcasm and snark. I remember somewhere after all the planes falling out of the sky, the heads of plastic baby dolls would fall into the laps of hysterical children. The teach loved it and gave me an A, and submitted the piece to some magazine for English teachers, he told me. Despite being a cynical non-attendee type of student, I really liked how that made me feel. 

I should add that despite my claims to the contrary at various times, a relatively short stint as a contributor to the Usenet group, misc.writing, was what really woke my writing instincts. Much as I hated a lot of the confrontational encounters with other people there, which at the time I thought of as a kind of casual meanness brought on by the anonymity on the Internet combined with childhood trauma of some sort, it was fun for me and posed challenges to my writing that I was happy to take on. The lesson there, by the way, was to learn to keep on keepin’ on despite not being “the best.” 

3.) What is your favorite genre to write about? (Example: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, True Crime, etc.)

Seems to be Sci-Fi, maybe Fantasy, I guess. I try to be serious sometimes, with varying degrees of success. 

4.) Do you ever get “writer’s block”? If so, do you have a reason of why it happens?

Yes, I do. And yes again, sort of. It’s not so much that I can’t think of something to write about, but that the language part of my brain is not interested. I can’t explain it any other way, but since photography is a hobby, as well as music, I go through periods where I’m not interested in writing but I become obsessed with taking pictures and/or modifying or correcting or whatever with Photoshop. There is a lot to this, I found, and the learning curve on Photoshop in particular is endless, I think. Otherwise I spend days or weeks at a time playing and writing tunes. Similarly, the endless learning curve. Sometimes I wish we could live to be 200, just so I could get somewhere with it.

So, during the picture phase, or the music phase, I can sit down to write but it just comes out so lumpy and disjointed I soon give up and go do something else. It’s as if my creativity wanders around inside my head, residing in one area of interest or another but only one at a time. 

5.) Can you tell me something that I do not know that you do not mind sharing about your style of writing?

I write to escape. 

To answer the question, what makes a writer, I would say, as I already have in comments under this same topic, a writer is of course anyone who writes for a living, or who writes and gets paid for it, regardless of how well they do it, or how they identify themselves, to give the pragmatic, common-sense answer.

That’s one kind of writer.  But in addition, I think, anyone who writes at all, and for whom writing is a strong and lasting interest in their lives, let’s say, is a writer. The presence of the Internet and the ease of “publishing” writing in various platforms only muddies the issue. To ask if blogging is writing, you might as well ask if writing diary or journal entries (with paper and pen, either gel or turkey quill) is writing, or sending off long, well thought out letters to the editor once a week. It is, and that’s how I would answer that question if I were given sufficient latitude to wax maudlin. (It is my blog, after all, and I have so granted.) 

Glory Days

I was smiling–that’s a good sign.

Title is sarcasm. I ran across this picture of myself and after getting over the astonishment of how much I have aged since it was taken, I thought I’d share. I was about 43 or so when the picture was taken. I spent 30 years at the local phone company here and about ten of those were spent doing residential repair work. Occasionally we were required to climb telephone poles to fix aerial lines of one sort or the other, and I was on my way to do that when this picture was taken. I see I don’t have all my climbing gear–perhaps I was just walking back to my truck for something when a friend who lived in the area spotted me and took this picture.

I suppose in a way these really were glory days. This was when I could work eight or nine 12-hour days in a row in freezing or rainy weather and come back for more after a day off. I felt pretty good all the time but didn’t ever realize it until I thought about it with benefit of hindsight. I can’t help but add that this was pre-Internet and pre-cell phones–I carried a pager that beeped and showed me a phone number to call back to. When I came home from work, after my 4-year-old son ran at top speed across the house to greet me and my wife right after that I then read the newspaper before dinner. Seriously. I guess since I wasn’t raised in a traditional household, I modeled my life after Leave it to Beaver.

I’m joking, of course. But maybe not.

Now here we are in the future, and I don’t really know what the f hell I’m doing although it seems to be working OK.


Chaos. Moving in just a couple of days now. We’re in that “discovery” phase of preparation where one finds things they had completely forgotten, and other things they never knew that had. Still in the old place, and can’t find stuff I need at this very moment. Chaos.

Change is unsettling, but also exciting. I’m looking forward to this move. We got the apartment last week, so before the movers come (no friends, no beer, no pizza) I moved some things by car, since we’re only moving from a suburb to downtown which, oddly, is going to be more peaceful and more stimulating at the same time. Spearheading this latest migration is Ayana, the intrepid African violet, who is already settled in at the new digs.

Ayana, surveying her new surroundings.


Quote from a blog post from March of 2017:

Things have settled down. Another way of saying there has occurred a slow transformation in my life from annoying to boring. But, I dasn’t complain, because the annoying part was pretty damn annoying. Apartment living agrees with me pretty much. However, one night during the St. Patrick’s day Parade and Public Urination Extravaganza, here in Kansas City, someone parked overnight in my parking spot. MY parking spot. I had to park out on the street. I leave as an exercise for the student what kind of car it was. Hint: it belonged to someone really important.

Now I’m that guy. No, really. Well, I don’t park in other people parking spots, not when I can help it, but I drive one of those cars. It’s not really mine. It belongs to my S.O., (resident molecular biologist.) A while back, after we decided to move from this house into an apartment downtown, I thought I’d try not owning a car. I sold mine back to the dealership, and now we get by driving the 2013 BMW, coordinating our schedules as necessary.

By doing this, by the way, we save not only the payment I was making, but about $60 worth of insurance each month, and about $90 for a monthly parking space downtown. Now, if Uber doesn’t cost very much, and I don’t need it much, I should come out ahead.

So, the point: I hate to say it, but it’s a fine car. It is going to spoil me. If you don’t really care about cars and see them as simply a way to get from point A to point B, then you may not appreciate it when I say this car is faster than most, handles extremely well, and has one of the nicest, smoothest operating automatic transmissions I’ve ever encountered. The only bad things I might say about it have to do with the quirky (German?) logic of some of the high-tech stuff like door locks and moving mirrors. 2013 is old for that kind of thing, I suppose.

I just wanted to do some writing before dismantling the computer and desk for the move on Monday, so this is it.

Here, if I can get this to work, is a picture of our new place. It will be the gray-ish tower with the twin green copper roofs, about the center of the picture.

Continued Dissatisfaction With a Certain Social Media Platform Which Shall Go Unnamed. (Facebook.)

I think FB is more than a little annoyance. Even though, weirdly, the majority of FB users themselves think it has a negative effect on “society,” we all keep returning to it. It sounds like an addiction, which is a trite, hackneyed thing to say, but still valid. In my opinion.

I think the algorithms are to blame. Not to mention that advertising is always bad, and here lately advertising has reached a new low in terms of intrusiveness, deception and just plain being obnoxious. Well, the whole Internet is like that . . .

My more than little annoyance is just that 2/3 of posts I see are either exquisitely boring (or just something I’m really really not interested in, let’s say,) or passive-aggressive political statements–like, why would I care about this article that simply reiterates your progressive liberalism–I get these because I think I have no conservative FB friends to speak of–anyway, it’s the Internet, for God’s sake, and we all know how to find stuff to read that interests us.

If I have a friend who knows my interests and wants to send a link to me, fine, but to simply broadcast this stuff is to abuse the platform. Which is the main problem. The existence of the platform itself. I don’t think we’re wired for that. It’s too much.

I like posting my photos, but, seriously, who cares? And like 98% of everybody, I’m thinking of pulling out of FB.

Snow Storm of the Century…er…Week

It started about a week and a half ago. Snow storm coming, Arctic Air Mass, and this in the aftermath of the dreaded Bomb Cyclone and even more dreaded Alberta Clipper, even though that sounds more like an Amtrak route.

7-12 inches, ladies and gentlemen.

Now when I first moved to Missouri back right about the time the glaciers receded, (whose smooth, weighty underbellies carved out the unremarkable topography of Kansas,) back then they didn’t even report a snow storm unless it was a foot or more. Say seven to twelve inches and people would shrug or giggle and go get the kids’ sleds that were hanging from bent nails on the garage wall. Nobody was worried about getting to work–they all had those big clunky snow tires that you had to install around October–the ones with the big, open tread lugs that made the tires buzz and drone when you went over 20 miles per hour. Then, if that didn’t work they had chains. And if that didn’t work, you’d get out and walk it. Everybody back then still had vivid childhood memories of trudging two miles to school, uphill, like Nanook of the North, against blowing snow, and then trudging home later that day, still uphill, and the wind having changed direction.

That’s all changed. The Internet now bursts at the seams with dire predictions of apocalyptic accumulations (in the “asteroid near-miss” section) and the local TV channels would put their crack meteorologists up front and center with more dire predictions and pleas to the viewers to bring their pets inside. Last night there was even a short feature about shoppers converging on neighborhood grocery stores.

So, I think we got about one inch. It’s supposed to snow for a few more hours, so it could be even worse. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all this bread and milk.