Category Archives: Petty Annoyances

Oh Joy! Oh No! Ack!

Hello, again, all…

The “joy” part of this title is that the wheels for Coco arrived today!  Of course, I opened the box and…I don’t know why I do this to myself.  I knew I wasn’t going to understand how to put the wheels on.  I have this mechanical reasoning learning disability, a bad one – I am incapable of understanding diagrams and assembly directions.  Yet I continue to hope that one day I will magically acquire this ability.

No.  Took one look and decided “uh uh, this is a job for my friend Nancy.”  Nancy, y’all may recall, lives downstairs.   She’s a really helpful woman, who knows how to do things like this.  So I sent her a text (not knowing if she was sleeping, I didn’t want to pound on her door and disturb her, as she works crazy hours).

I’m sure by Monday, the wheels will be on.  And, hopefully, I will finally ride my bike!!

The “oh no” and “ack” exclamations have nowt to do with Coco and Her Magic Wheels.

They have to do with Wednesday’s topic: internet anonymity.

If you read Wednesday’s post, you know I encountered a rather snarky individual on a UFO blog site who jumped in a conversation he was not a part of, just to let me know that I, as an “AC” (“anonymous contributor”), was not worthy of him engaging in any dialogue with.

My thoughts on that were he’s an egotistical asshole, so what?  And after I wrote my blog piece, which mentioned him only briefly, I forgot both him and the blog site in question.

Then I got an email from the site, which sends emails out when replies are written to threads you post on.  Here’s where the “oh no” comes in, as in that (sorta) old expression, “Oh no, he didn’t!”

Someone else, who also uses his full name, posted something directly to me, disguised as a further explanation of why he and this other guy think “ACs” are the devil’s spawn or something, but was really a personal attack.  I saw it for what it was, I knew he was baiting..

…but I bit.  That’s the “ack” part.  I got angry because he stated he clicked on my “muse” ID, and nothing was there.  Then he launched into a brief tirade about how it’s easy to “aggressively attack people” when you don’t have the guts to identify yourself, or words to that effect.

As I had only asked a couple of questions, and never attacked anyone (and even thanked the nice guy who told me what “AC” stood for), this really pissed me off.  Because he was implying that I had some kind of troll agenda, just because he didn’t know what my name was.

Or that I like eggplant, which is the first line in my Google ID.  I have no idea what he clicked on, but there is info on my Google ID and I told him so.  I also told him I didn’t know why he couldn’t access it, but I didn’t care about “fixing” it, anyway, because I only use Google to post online when it’s a shortcut.

I then went on to state – and here’s where I really might have gotten carried away – my full name, the town I live in, my educational background, my age, the fact that I am on disability and am a survivor of domestic violence, and that I write a blog that has all this information – and more – on it, and that it’s public, on WordPress.  I didn’t mention the name, because I think it’s rude to plug one’s blog site on someone else’s blog, unless they ask.

Oh, and I told them my journal articles in cognitive science are available online, which they can Google if they want.   Normally, I do not throw my education at people like that, but they both were so smug and so know-it-all about being stupid posters on someone else’s blog site, that it just irked the hell out of me.

“Think you know it all?  I’M SMART, ASSHOLE.  WHAT PUBLICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?” This was what I was thinking.  It’s kind of a petty part of me, and probably comes from being called “stupid” by my family as I was growing up (sorry to disillusion anyone, but, yes, they did that).

The owner of the site should have stepped in and took this person to task for his snarky implications, but he didn’t – therefore sort of letting it go unchallenged unless I said something. And I wasn’t even going to say anything, not to the first guy, but then the second one posted and it was like poking me with a sharp stick.

At any rate, it was such a long rant that I actually had to edit it in order to post it, as the site has limits on long your comment can be.  I was so angry!  I even stated that I not only hadn’t planned to attack people, but I didn’t even have any definitive views on what UFOs are (except for alien abduction, which I believe is a sleep disorder thing).  I pointed out that, of the 3 people who responded to my comment, only 1 was civil and nice…

…the other “anonymous contributor”.

And that they, both with their full names, were rude and engaged in a personal attack on someone for merely asking questions.  I ended that part of the rant by telling them that their “theory” about how people who post under their real names do not post verbally aggressive comments was not true, as evidenced by their own boorish behavior and also by there not being ONE shred of scientific research that backs up that claim.

I phrased this as “As an expert – and I am – I can tell you there is NO scientific research to back up your claims.”  Oh, I was in full-bitch mode.

Then I apologized to the blog site owner for ranting, but stated I felt I needed to defend myself against these 2 readers and their accusations.

I haven’t heard back.  Either no one commented on it, or the blog owner deleted it. Because…females and their rants.  The site is only commented on by men, I suspect because they run all the females off, and also because the “UFO Community” at large is male-dominated and extremely sexist.

Even if I get another email indicating someone replied, I know better than to even open it.  And now this is yet another site that I won’t be reading – even though it is interesting – because there are just too many dickheads on it to make it pleasurable.  Oh, and because the blog owner, this author who I really used to like, didn’t even have the balls to rein in his “regulars”.

I am only somewhat dismayed that I lost my temper.  I am not worried about what I wrote, because I am on the internet in several different places and it’s not hard to find this information I revealed in my comment.  No doubt, they probably all just dismissed it as the post-menopausal ravings of some weird woman in Pennsylvania.  Pfft, I don’t care.

It’s like the last Daily Beast comment I posted, before deciding to not deal with that site anymore, either.

It seems one of the “social justice warriors” who posts comments to neo-cons, such as “you’re racist!  I bet you would take the food out of a Black kid’s mouth!” and other stupid things, decided to disclose that he once worked with the cops as a security guard (I bet the cops didn’t see it that way), and was “horrified” at the things the cops did to shoplifters.

Which he stood by and watched.  Time and time again, because he “didn’t want to get fired”. Watched, as cops stripped women to search them, made disgusting comments, even inappropriately touched them, and on and on.

Now, y’all know me – what do you think I felt about that?  Do you think maybe I called him a coward?

Do you think I told him he had a lot of nerve coming down on other people, when all he did was write crap on the internet and when it really would count, he did…nothing?

Do you think maybe I told him he ought to get down on his knees and ask those women’s forgiveness for doing nothing while their lives were ruined?  And asked him how he could sleep at night?

You bet I did.  But, of course, it didn’t stop him from doing the same thing, day in and day out, as if he didn’t have a hypocritical bone in his body.

So, I decided, enough of this.  I know eventually, in my heart, that this guy is going to think about what I wrote.  And hopefully it will stick in his liberal-ass conscience for a good long while.

But I can rant and emote here.  And I need to focus on my own life, right now, while I can still do something about it.  Because if I don’t get my health somewhat under control, and get as fit as I can get, I won’t be able to help anyone else.

I can’t promise I won’t pop off on another comments section.  But I am hoping that getting wheels on Coco will have me out and about in the world more often, biking around my small town and enjoying the summer.

And I know from personal experience – because people have told me this – that what I say to people does have an impact.  If not materially, at least it gooses their consciences now and again.  And if I can change just one person’s attitude towards the rest of the human race, if I can convince just one to be kinder in his/her daily life, if I can put just one asshole in his place…

…it’s ok.  I am doing what I can.  Now it’s time to focus on me.

I forgot to recommend this guy last time…he is oh-so-funny, and anyone who has had regular contact with the healthcare system (either as a patient or an employee), will love this man.  He’s the Weird Al of the medical field…I give you….

Dr. ZDogg in da house!!

He’s like what Dr. Wonderful would be like, if Dr. Wonderful did song parodies (I’ll have to ask him, you never know!).

Be good.  Be kind.  Have a wonderful, joyful weekend!

 

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Back, with Uncle Bob

Well, I don’t actually have an Uncle Bob, not that I know of, anyway.  I was just coming up blank when trying to think of a title for this post, so this just sort of rolled out.

I didn’t think I would be back online this soon.  But thanks to my 2 sons, I was able to get back online very quickly.

My PC just shut off.  It would turn on for, say, 10 seconds, then shut off.  Not long enough for me to drag anything into the little storage thing that hangs on my keychain.  But, initially, saving data was not my first worry – I was just worried (ok, panicked, kinda) that I wouldn’t be able to get back online until I bought a new computer.

Which – if you either know me or have been reading this blog long enough – you know that’s something that would take several months to a year for me to buy.   Saving up that kind of dosh would take ages.

Fortunately, several months ago my older son sent me a Mac for which he no longer had any use, so with desperation trumping my fear of all things electronic I took it down from the shelf and attempted to use it…

…and couldn’t locate the “on” button.

I’m serious.  I could not find it.  I even looked online via Moto to see if there was a drawing showing just where on the keyboard it was located, and I still couldn’t find it.  I punched a couple of buttons that looked as if they might be an “on” button, but nothing happened.

Then I saw it – this tiny thing on the upper right corner of the Mac that looks like a decal.  It is actually a teeny tiny button that turns it on.  So, yay!

It had Safari on it but I can deal with different browsers, so I tried to pull up the Google page and…

…it wouldn’t connect to the internet.  Aaarrgggghhhhh!!

I took it downstairs to my friend and neighbor Nancy, because she is tech savvy (well, more tech savvy than I am), and she tried to get it to connect to the WiFi router.   Nothing worked.

Aside #1: Just like when I tried to connect Moto to the router – it wouldn’t, no matter what I tried. Eventually I resigned myself to not ever being able to solve the mystery of the maddening malfunctioning Moto, and have been using up all my data by the end of each month (instead of using my WiFi at home).

So Nancy very kindly lent me her computer so I could pay bills and the ever-important rent. Then I went upstairs again with a roaring headache, and took a nap.  Because, you know, frustration and all the tears that go along with it (I don’t get angry when I am frustrated, I cry).

That afternoon I texted my younger son and asked for help.  After going through everything and double-checking the password, he finally told me to go get an Ethernet cable and connect the Mac directly to the router and, if that didn’t work, connect it directly to the modem.

So, $25 poorer and 24 hours later, I was back with an Ethernet cable.  Which, of course, took me 2 hours to get because I had to take the shared-ride van.  It’s never just as simple as “running to the store”.

I hooked the Mac up to the router, put in the password, and…

…nothing.   Aaaaiiiiieeeee!!

I hooked the Mac up to the modem, and…

…nothing.  Aaaaiiiiieeeee!!

I texted both my sons and pled for help.  After sending my older son pictures of the screens I was looking at, he walked me through setting up the network connection again, just in case I missed something.

And it still didn’t work!  I was beside myself!  I was in a pit of despair!  I was wringing my hands in distress!  I was…well, you get the picture.

Finally, my son asked me if I had the right password.

Aside #2: That probably should have been his very first question but I think he didn’t want to hurt my feelings by asking something so basic.

“Yes, I have the password and the key numbers, but it never asks for the key, so I don’t know where that goes,” I replied.

“Hmm,” he said, “the password usually is the key.”

So I undid everything, went back in to set-up, and entered the key this time, and…Bob’s your uncle!

It worked!

Yes, I had been entering the wrong information as far back as September when I tried to connect Moto to the router.  Because to me, a password is a password and a key is something that opens physical locks (or provides answers to a test).

I didn’t need the Ethernet cable.  I didn’t need to use up all my smartphone data each month.  I didn’t need to resign myself to a Luddite-like life of shame.

All I needed was that little inadvertent hint from my older son.  And now my world is a little less stressful today.

I have some information on my other PC that I would like to have, but fortunately I did some backing up in September, so most of what I want is available to me.  The stuff that isn’t – like 2 Excel files I would like to have – I will just have to redo in whatever database program is on this Mac, if I can find it (hey, it took me 10 minutes just to find the calculator, because it doesn’t have that left-hand search menu that Windows PCs have).

A big reminder to BACK THINGS UP a bit more often than once a year.  Lesson learned.

On Wednesday I will publish what I was going to this past Wednesday – maybe.  It’s kind of a cranky essay on people who fall into the category of frenemies.  Well, maybe “frenemies” is a bit harsh to describe 2 women I have felt the need to completely stop communicating with lately, due to them both being, well, downright mean to me.  Consistently and without provocation.

It’s painful to have to do that to people you have cared about and trusted for many years, but I have a tendency to cut people close to me way too much slack when it comes to how they treat me, and that has to stop.  Sigh.

So, until Wednesday…

It’s Just Getting Worse

I was going to write about the horrible “religious freedom” (anti-gay) laws being passed in Indiana and Oklahoma, and being proposed in Georgia, because I think it’s bigoted and unfair.

However, I am now way too upset to do that.

Every 6 months or so, I am required to recertify for the SNAP program (food stamps).  After receiving my new card in the mail, courtesy of the efforts of my new caseworker (so I wouldn’t have to go through the embarrassment of my card not working properly)….

Now I no longer have food stamps.

When I got my recertification in the mail in February, I called my caseworker and asked what info he needed me to send in.  He looked stuff over and told me I didn’t need to send anything but the signature sheets.  I asked if he was going to do the phone interview that they sometimes do, and he stated that no, he didn’t need to do that but would call if anything changed.

I then told him I didn’t see the return envelope in the packet.  He said he would send one.

When I went to get the mail the next day, I noticed the return envelope had fallen on the stairs.  So, happily I put my signature sheets in and put it out for collection.  As it was gone the next day I just assumed the post office had delivered it.

Food stamp day came and went – it was April 10.  I bought my groceries as usual.

I didn’t give any thought to the return envelope my caseworker said he would send that I didn’t receive…until yesterday.

Yesterday I got a return envelope in the mail, POSTMARKED IN FEBRUARY, from the Dept of Welfare.

“Oh well,” I thought, “no big deal, as I already sent the info in.”

Today I got a letter from the Dept. of Welfare dated APRIL 7, telling me that as of April 1 I was no longer eligible for food stamps.  And that I can appeal if I want.

The reason?  “You failed to provide the information we asked for.”

I went online to check my status.  My SNAP balance is $12 and my account is active.

It is too late in the day to call my caseworker.  I will try calling him tomorrow morning.

I don’t understand this, but I am upset.  I cannot afford to feed myself and pay my bills too, without food stamps.  And I had just gotten to the point where my budget covers my monthly expenses – just barely, but it does.  I don’t owe anything to anyone at this point.

I have been fairly ill for the past 2 weeks, with the fever having returned, along with the other symptoms.  I feel like shit and I am in no shape to fight the Dept of Welfare over this, but I have to.

I am really hoping it’s all some kind of clerical mistake.  If I could use my EBT card on April 10, how could it be that I lost my benefits as of April 1?

I really like my caseworker and I hope he can explain this to me.  And why was my return envelope, which was sent in February, just turning up in April??

I mean, I didn’t need it, as I had found the original one and mailed it back in February, but it makes me wonder.  Hmm.  The address was correct, so I know it wasn’t misdelivered.

It didn’t have any markings on it, except the bar codes that run along the bottom of the envelope my caseworker sent it in were blacked out.  Hmm.

I am the least paranoid person on the planet, I truly am.  But even I have to scratch my head and wonder what is going on here.

This incident comes on the heels of my interaction with the pain clinic personnel last week, which was not pleasant.

Technology & The Art of Being Poor

Art.  No, not really, but it makes for a catchy title.  I do not consider being poor “art”, that would be way too petit bourgeois.  It just helps, sometimes, to think of my economic situation in different ways, so I don’t let it depress me – too much.

Today was supposed to be grocery-shopping day.

After I had the awful experience (at Martin’s Foods in Duncansville) of having my EBT card declined due to their mistake, I am doubly paranoid about having my card declined, and as I sat on my porch waiting for the van to pick me up, I realized I needed to check my balance.

So I picked up my phone, looked up the EBT Hotline in contacts, and pressed the number.

Nothing.

No ring sound, no “Thank you for calling Pennsylvania EBT customer service.  For English, press 1.”

I hung up and tried again.

Nothing.

I went to check all my sound settings.  They were all ok.  Then I decided to see if any of the sounds played.

No.  No “Oye” by Pitbull (default ringtone, heh).  No notification sound.  No nothing.

Van pulls up.  Oh good, I can ask the driver.

The driver is my age.  He laughs.  “You’re asking the wrong person.”

Uh-oh.

I told him I couldn’t go because I couldn’t call for a pickup, and I couldn’t call to check my EBT balance to make sure I didn’t get declined when it came time to check out.  He understood, and left.

In a fit of pique and swearing like a sailor, I stomped up the stairs to my apt.

Cursing Motorola.  Cursing Moto.  Cursing technology.

Got on the internet and realized 2 things: 1. I could have looked up my balance on the internet, and 2. many people are having this issue with Moto G 1st gen.

The solution?  Reboot.  So I did.

No.  Still no Pit Bull.

Read a few forums and one said to go into developer mode – which I had miraculously unlocked on my phone when I first got it, in order to change some settings to cut down on the amount of space things take up (or something, I forget what, exactly).  And change from ART to Dalvik, which apparently messes up your “optimal performance”, but fixes the “no sound” issue.

So I did.  And Pit Bull was rapping and singing again!

Called the EBT Hotline.  Got my balance.  Yay!

Called the van place and booked for tomorrow.

It’s these little things that drive me crazy, and almost all of them are connected in some way to technology.  I admit, some of it is my fault, because I have always had one of my kids or someone else (usually a boyfriend) fix my technology problems or at least told me how I could fix them.

Now that I live alone, the only ones I can ask are the cats.  And they aren’t telling.

Now nearly everything has technology connected to it.  Had I not had a phone or an internet connection – both of which I often think I should get rid of when I am frustrated – I wouldn’t have had any way to check my food stamp balance.  Because they aren’t even food stamps anymore, they’re credits on a card.

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when was the last time you saw a pay phone?  As in, phone booth, put quarter in, make call?

Yeah, I thought so.  Me neither.

It was technology that led to the Martin’s Incident, and the same goes for today.

The smallest, seemingly easiest things to do with technology are all way over my head.  And it frustrates me to no end that I can’t do stuff that, say, a 12 yr old can do.

I know, I sound like an old bat.

Verizon has a how-to class on Moto G.  I would love to take that class, as it is free.  But it’s on Saturdays.

Van doesn’t run on Saturdays.  So that’s a no-go.

This is where the being poor part intersects the technology dummy part.  Too poor to own a car, can’t take classes to use technology.

And it is pretty much this way for most things.  Being poor is not only a matter of not being able to afford things, it also makes errands and things people take for granted about 10 times harder than they should be.

Got to do laundry?  Two choices: either lug your laundry to the laudromat on foot (which is difficult, try it sometime), or call the van and pay $6 round trip to go do your laundry.

Run out of milk?  Catfood? Garbage bags?  (I chose those because I frequently run out of them)  Got $6 in exact change?  No?

Tough shit.  Walk to the store that’s 3/4 of a mile one-way from your apt?  That’s my new goal.  But if I didn’t have the “Rest-n-Roll” cart that comes with a fold-down seat, I wouldn’t even attempt it.  Because I would probably need to sit down along the way and…

When was the last time you saw a bench on the street, that wasn’t a bus stop?

Yeah, I thought so.  Me neither.

Further compounding things – and preventing me from ever being able to walk to the bank if I had to – is that this area of PA, for some extremely weird reason, has very few crosswalks.

I’m serious.  Drive down any street in Altoona and thereabouts, and you will see traffic lights on corners, but signs that indicate you cannot cross the street on foot.  Signs with a person on them and a big red slash across it.  It’s one of the strangest things I’ve seen here.

And yes, people do get tickets for jaywalking if they try to cross the street.  Really.

So, if I need to go someplace that I cannot walk to, it’s $6.  The nearest branch of my bank has “no pedestrian” signs, AND no walk-up ATM.  Last time I went, they wanted to charge me FOR CASHING A CHECK AT MY OWN BANK!

New policy.  “You can use the ATM outside,” she said.

“But I don’t have a car!”

Blank look.  Crickets chirp.

So, I got behind a car in the drive-thru ATM.  That was really weird and embarrassing, standing out in the drive-thru lane.

And in the car in front of me, the woman who I noticed had seen me standing there, finished her transaction.  Then, put on her makeup, put on her seat belt, looked in the glove compartment for something, and basically twiddled around for 5 minutes before she left.

And all the while I am hoping a car doesn’t come up behind me.

Little things.  Being poor makes everything unnecessarily hard.  Everything you do takes twice as long, usually, too.  It makes going to the grocery store an all-day adventure.

And not in a good way, either.

Goddess help you if you’re disabled or frail.  (I am disabled, but not frail, thankfully)

I mentioned the lottery to a van driver once.  Told him if I ever won, the first thing I would do is buy a car.

“No you won’t,” he said.

“Why not? I asked.

“There’s insurance and gas. You can’t afford those on disability.”

I realized that, if I did win enough to buy a car, and nothing else, he was right.  Compounding this would be that SSI would cut me off, and so would the EBT people.  Even if I cashed the check immediately and spent it all on a car.  Income is income, and even if you are broke the very next day, it would take at least another month to get your benefits back.

“It’s like they want you to stay poor,” many people have remarked to me.

Indeed.

Today’s recommendation for books is….

“The Murder Pit”, by Jeff Shelby.  It’s what you call a “cozy mystery”, which are books that feature an amateur sleuth (usually female), are set in a small town (usually), downplay violence and sex, are funny (sometimes), and have a love interest for the sleuth.

Basically, “Murder She Wrote”, in book form.

There is a subgenre that features cats as helpers to the sleuth, or sometimes they solve the crime all by themselves and then get a human to help them.

Those are my favorite kinds of cozies.

As for movies?  I highly recommend “The Imitation Game”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.  No, I haven’t seen it but many people tell me it’s good.

I haven’t seen it because the van doesn’t run past 4PM (or thereabouts on weekdays), and not at all on weekends.  See?  See what I mean?

Be good.  Be kind.  Don’t get run over in an ATM drive-thru.

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge from a Vending Machine

You pay someone, you get knowledge/enlightenment.  Wheee!

Something that people my age say a lot is, “The older I get, the more I realize how little I know.”

I mean, people my age who are not pompous asses.

Today, I am thinking about…thinking.

I got an email today from a website called “ESkeptic”, announcing their conference in southern California.  Well, sure, I know I can’t possibly go but I thought I would see what they’re up to, anyway.

The first thing that caught my attention, actually, wasn’t even the conference itself.  The item above the announcement did: “Waking Up” with Sam Harris.

I don’t know who Sam Harris is.  I do know that “waking up” is a common phrase used amongst people who want to promote self-awareness, myself included.  I ran a group whose main focus was self-awareness, and on the chalkboard in the room I had written, “Wake Up!”  So I am familiar with this concept.

I have never, however, heard a skeptic use language like that.

I would love to tell you what he meant by that, but I am not paying $4.99 to rent his lecture, the full title of which is “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.”  The description reads as follows:

“In these talks, Harris discussed a range of experiences that have traditionally been considered “spiritual”—in particular the phenomenon of self-transcendence. Although such experiences tell us nothing about the origins of the cosmos, they confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and serenity, are teachable skills; and the way we think can profoundly influence our lives and the lives of others. (This video consists of a one-hour lecture and an hour of Q&A.)” (email from Skeptics Society, 2/4/2015)

Our conventional sense of self is an illusion?  That’s a truth?

Sounds to me as if the skeptics are kind of desperate for members, and are resorting to promoting their own special brand of woo.  Tsk tsk.  And charging for it.  Just like they scream at others for doing.

So then I went on to read about their conference.  It costs a lot of money to attend.  Even just the open bar and lecture session is $75 (I assume the bar is extra).

I don’t see any difference between this conference and the myriad of UFO/Bigfoot/Enlightenment conferences that are held on a daily basis somewhere in the world.  Except I think the UFO and Bigfoot conferences might at least have entertainment value for the money (and they are usually cheaper).

Nope, the skeptics are after the same snob-appeal crowd that the modern-day gurus are after, except they talk about different subjects.

Do I hate skeptics? Noooooooo.  Most of my family are skeptics.  Some of my friends are skeptics.  I am occasionally skeptical about a great many things, which is why I refer to a lot of things as “woo”.

No, I just hate elitism in any form.  I don’t like anyone who thinks he/she has the market cornered on “the truth”.  Because, to me, unless you are referring to relating testimony (telling the truth about something/someone), I don’t think ANYONE knows “the truth”.

There are scientific principles, to be sure, and I do not argue against those.  I guess that’s “truth” in a sense.  But the word “truth” has almost a moralistic ring to it.  I would rather say, “It is likely that…”, or “It most probably is….”, or even “with a 95% confidence level” (as is written in peer-reviewed journal articles).

When I see someone charging for content that I often have taught for free, or blog here for free, it makes me mad.  Could I ever go on a lecture circuit and talk about things I write about here?  Not likely.  I could make money at it, for sure.  But it would be hard for me to do that without feeling like I was ripping people off.

Self-awareness et al is easy to teach – that part of the quote about Mr. Harris’ lecture is quite accurate.  In fact, you can teach it to yourself (in the 60s and 70s, lsd/peyote/psilocybin were used for that sometimes).

You do not have to pay $4.99 to rent a lecture (gee, you can’t even own it, what a ripoff), or pay $20.00 for a book (oh, it’s autographed, I know, but still…), or attend a $75 dinner party, or pay $225 for a Saturday conference session ($199 for Skeptic Society members) in order to become self-aware/learn about pseudoscience/be entertained by magicians with agendas.

If people pay for that, I think it’s much more likely they are paying for the chance to be around others of like-mind, so they can all feel smug and smart.  It’s really not like you would learn anything, like, say, you would at an academic conference.  And I guess you need to be a certain kind of person to enjoy a smug-fest. *cough* elitist asshole *cough*

What’s my point today?  I don’t know.  Maybe I am just fed up with people ripping off the public.  Maybe I am disgusted by elitism in its many forms.  Maybe I am appalled that someone would have the nerve to charge for something that’s so basic and so obvious.

Maybe I just feel that, with all their protestations that they are skeptics in order to advance science and educate people, they are still basically people out to make a buck.  And these folks do not live at subsistence level – they make quite a wealthy living from this.

I just think that’s shameful.

This week’s weirdness comes again from Gizmag, that wonderful website that clues you in on all the latest technological advances in all kinds of different areas.  This article is called “Fungi Mutarium Fuses Plastic and Fungi into Foodstuffs”.  Oh, those wacky Austrians at Livin Studios!

And…a recommendation from Hulu.  It’s another Hulu-produced series called “The Booth at the End.”  A man sits, well……….in a booth at the end (of a diner).  People come see him, tell him what they want, and he has them perform a task – then they come back and tell him about what they did and how they got what they wanted.  Is he a bad guy?  Seems so, at first, as he has people kill other people and what-not.  But sometimes people don’t do the task and they get what they want anyway.  So is he a good guy who makes people consider their actions and how those affect others?  I don’t know yet.  But it’s entertaining.

Be good.  Be kind.  Teach someone something…for free.

 

 

 

Life is Strange Enough – Quit Making Stuff Up!

I am going to start this entry with a book recommendation, for a change.

It’s a book written by someone who made a decent living as a “medium”, with work on the side as a ghost hunter/house cleanser.   Made a lot of money, too, what with TV appearances and book signings, the whole shebang.

She has decided to come out with the truth: she cannot talk to the dead, she’s never been in a haunted house, and now that she’s retired on her considerable wealth she wants to ensure that no one else gets duped.  She details how she conducted “cold readings”, how she rigged electronic devices to go off when she was claiming to “sense” a presence, and even how she sometimes had assistants planted in various locations to “make the experience seem more real”.

Emails sent to her, requesting readings, were saved and memorized (on her applications, she states that you need to provide basic details on your reason for a reading) – the rest is something she “fills in” when she meets the person, throws out some generalizations, then runs with whatever information she sees the client react positively to.

At live sessions, she throws statements out that are so general that someone inevitably will think it applies to them.  If, during a reading, she says something the person doesn’t relate to, she tells them to “think about it – it will come to you when you get home”.  Or sometimes she apologises and says the message is for the person sitting next to them.

She also states she got tired (and a few headaches) from pretending to be possessed by spirits.  She apparently has hit her head a few times when her assistants were not paying attention.  And, as she is getting older, it’s getting increasingly harder for her to see in the dark, a necessary condition (she says) in order to fool people better.

Additionally, she is getting sick and tired of a select group of clients and hangers-on who, while contributing a lot to her personal wealth, annoy her to the point of “mental exhaustion”.

“It’s as if they cannot make any decisions at all without my advice,” she complains. “Why can’t they just grow up and think for themselves?”

She, of course, doesn’t see that she has fostered this dependence. But hey, no one’s perfect, right?

Aside from the mental and physical exhaustion, she is beginning to worry about her own mortality.

“I don’t know what happens after we die, if anything,” she admits.  “And since I was asked to leave church because I was causing so much distraction, I don’t even know where to go to get my own spiritual guidance.  I’m getting older, and I’m becoming afraid of old age and death.”

Welcome to the club, idiot.  It’s hard to feel sorry for someone like that, isn’t it?  And even now, with this admission, she is hurting people because they now have to come to terms with their own belief in something that clearly wasn’t true.

And she’s not even giving their money back.

Internet Politeness Norms & Alternate…Everything

Today’s post is about internet politeness norms (there don’t seem to be any), alternative medicine/treatments (aka “woo”), and the general alternative reality that a lot of people seem to be living in (virtual reality in its many forms).

First of all, though, yet another health update: (Skip to Page 2 for My Usual Commentary)

I finished the antibiotics and am still sick.  The fevers are fewer and farther between, which is good, but the nausea/dizziness/upper right quadrant pain remain.  The fatigue is at bay unless I do something incredibly strenuous like, say, go downstairs to get the mail.  Then I’m done for the day, pretty much.

I don’t think people understand what I mean.  I don’t mean I am out of breath going up and down stairs – it doesn’t even get to that point.  I mean I feel like taking a nap in the foyer after fetching the mail and before returning upstairs.  Tired times a zillion and then some.

I have no idea how I am going to grocery shop next month.  I barely made it this month and when I got home I was wiped out for days.

And Dr. Wonderful?  His last comments to me via email, after I asked him if the lab results indicating I had some kind of atrophied pancreas (and the everpresent gallstones) might be the source of my symptoms, were somewhat terse – he stated that pancreas atrophy does not have symptoms and would not cause upper quadrant pain, and that the best way to “prevent illness” is a good diet, and strength training.

Can’t really disagree with him there.  However, it’s not really helpful.  My diet now consists of “eat whatever I want as long as I eat 45 g of fiber first” – which, if you have ever tried, leaves no room to eat ANYTHING else, because 45 g is a LOT of fiber and hard to achieve in one day.

Try it.  I mean, without pills or fiber drinks.  It’s tough.

My diet consists of raw vegetables (usually broccoli and caultiflower), some cooked ones (peas and artichokes, as both are high in fiber), an apple or berries, the occasional free-range happy chicken egg, and 2 c. black beans with bulgur and/or brown rice.

Sometimes I go wild and eat 2 slices of $6/loaf (yes, really) Ezekial bread, which is so high in healthy ingredients it nearly tastes like it.   Sorry, but vegetarian/health food has not changed a whole lot (ie, it still tastes a lot like cardboard) since I was a vegetarian in 1969 (I was 13 – an animal, um well not rights person exactly, I just didn’t think killing animals for food was kind or right).  I don’t think animals have rights, nor did I then.  I just don’t/didn’t think we as humans have to torture them for food/cosmetics/anything else.

They depend on us to not hurt them.  Oh, for heaven’s sake, if I was out in the wilderness and had to fend for myself I would maybe fish, as I kind of see that as an equal sporting kind of thing (I have never actually caught a fish, despite my love of bass fishing – them’s some damn smart fish and they always get away, if I am able to hook them at all, which I’m usually not).

But, in general, Americans do not need to hunt for food.  And, while even I will admit that McDonald’s burgers taste good (especially those cheddar/carmelized onion ones), they are just not worth the health issues or contributing to McDonald’s global domination.  So, I mean I don’t need to eat meat of any kind, for a lot of different reasons.

I digress.  What was I talking about?  Right, the diet and health.  So I have a boring diet and since I am rarely hungry now, I can check the “dietary lifestyle change” off my list.

Exercise, as my doctor clearly knows (because we have discussed it many times), is the tough part.  He knows I do not have a car.  He also knows I am on disability.  He knows that anything that’s not a medical errand (and exercise does not count, I already argued with Pennsylvania Medicaid and Medicare about this) costs me $6 round-trip.

I applied awhile back to the YMCA grant for poor people thing, which I got.   The woman told me, “As Christians, we think everyone should at least pay SOMETHING,” when I asked her why there was still a fee of $12/month.  “You mean you can’t spare $12 a month??” she asked.  I told her, no, but I would be glad to volunteer as anything, and if she had me do counseling volunteer work that was worth at least $25/hour so…”Oh, you have to volunteer on top of paying the fee,” she said.

Ok so that’s $12 plus transportation costs of $18/week, assuming a 3 times/week exercise schedule.  And it has to be done between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, M-F, because those are the times the Blair Senior Services vans run (the $6/round-trip guys).

That’s minimally $84/month.  Even if I inexplicably ditched my cell phone (which isn’t practical and no, I do not want an Obamaphone – I had one once and the talk time they provide each month isn’t enough to cover the cost of calls to doctors and other necessary things, let alone call or text my kids and friends), and got rid of my internet (which is $28/month), it still wouldn’t add up to $84/month.

The classes are another issue.  The free ones are either not on the days/times I need or they are not suitable (NO Silver Sneakers for me, thanks) or they cost money.

A side issue – one that creeps me out – is that a prominent (and very elderly) doctor I have had contact with is on the YMCA board (in a visible, active, ‘hang-around-the-place’ way),  I would not want to run into him.  I had heard – through some former clients of mine – that he was into the BDSM scene as a dom, and when I met him he made it creepily clear that this was not a rumor.  I was in the middle of an exam for my back at the time.  It weirded me out so much, especially when he told me I was a “good girl”, that I left as soon as humanly possible and never went back.

It didn’t particularly shock me that Altoona has an underground dungeon or whatever.  I just really don’t want any contact with that group of folks, in any capacity.  They seem to be obsessed with sex and that doesn’t sit well with me (no obsessions sit well with me, to be honest).

So, back to the issues of diet and exercise.  Diet, check.  Exercise, um still figuring that out.  I bought a bicycle 3 years ago, and have fallen off it 3 times.  Yes, I used to ride bikes a lot as a kid and young adult.  I think the falling has to do with the peripheral neuropathy in my legs, which makes it so my legs do not do what I tell them to do, a lot of the time.  That relates back to the lower back issue, which was supposed to resolve itself without surgery but the last CT scan last week unintentionally revealed that nothing has changed.

So ends the health update for today.  That was the “everything” part of the title.