Thursday, January 11, 2018

So Far, 2018? You Suck.

Tuesday evening, I get a phone call from my mother. Something is wrong; can I come down. Every question is answered with, "I don't know." I get down there and she's in full-blown aphasia. I grab the phone, call 911 and give them the house address. After a brief hesitation, the guy says something about how we're in Crawford county and to hold while he transfers us. After some back-and-forth, I think to ask what county I'm speaking with. Antrim County. In Michigan. At that point I just tell them to forget it and shove everyone in the van and head to the ER.

Now, please do not interpret anything that follows as a criticism of Antrim County 911. They were not at fault and even went as far as somehow tracking us down and sending an ambulance to my parents' place all the way down here in Florida. At that point, we were already in the ER, but still some serious effort on their part.

No, what follows is squarely aimed at Verizon.

How the hell can it be that I can get a restaurant's daily specials sent to my phone because I happen to be driving by it, and yet Verizon with its incredible network and unlimited technology from the whole universe cannot locate a 911 call to less than a 1,000-mile radius? Shame on you, Verizon. No; I'm going much further than that. Fuck you, Verizon.

Fuck. You.

Deep.

And on a slant.

With sand in the Vaseline.

[Aside: A good collection of Talking Heads, FYI.]

So anyway, she did have a small stroke, probably caused by a blood clot. She was supposed to be released this morning, but of course, Florida Hospital Zephyrhills screwed up and she sat in a chair for nine hours waiting to get cut loose because some shit dick "forgot". And for this, the US taxpayers will be paying bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every encounter I have with the medical industrial complex gives me a deeper understanding into why these united States has the absolutely worst health care in the first world while spending an order of magnitude more than any other country.

Meanwhile, in Michigan nothing has really changed with Debbie's mom. Some movement in hands and feet, but she is still unresponsive to verbal commands. They are working on getting her transferred to the hospital that one of Debbie's brothers works at so she will be close to somebody in the family. The hospital she is at now is a four-hour drive from the closest one of her kids. Debbie is staying another week to make sure everything is settled as it can be before she comes back down here.

And tomorrow, I get to go back to work for another week.

Woo.

Hoo.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

So It's 2018...

I'm not sure what happened to 2017, but I'm not really sad to see it gone. I can't think of much of anything we managed to accomplish in the last year other than enrich of bunch of doctors, PA's, labs and all the other flora and fauna of the Medical Industrial Complex. About the only good thing that happened is that we no longer have to pay thousands of dollars in penalties because we cannot afford health insurance. That has to be one of the most monumentally stupid... well... I've covered all that before. So I guess 2017 wasn't a total loss.

In keeping with the rest of the suck-fest called 2017, it ended with Debbie's mom having a brain aneurysm that burst. Debbie has been up in Michigan with her for the last week. At this point, everything that can be done has been done. Now it's just waiting to see if she wakes up, then it will be up to a year in various stages of recovery, with the definition of "recovery" being... um... "flexible" is probably the nicest word for it.

I didn't do my usual Christmas post because I just wasn't feeling all that Joyeux this Noel. I worked both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, and Christmas day was taken up with the park dinner and being with my parents. New Years wasn't any big deal either, between Debbie being in Michigan and me having to work both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Have I mentioned lately that working really sucks?

For the new year, I made another blog tweak. Up to now, the books in the current and past reading lists over there on the right were Amazon Affiliate links. In theory if someone were to click on one of them, then buy something from Amazon, I was supposed to get some fraction of a cent. Well, in the nine years I've been doing that, I've gotten about $4, which Amazon will not let me do anything with. I'm supposed to be able to use it towards stuff I buy on Amazon, but all I get is some error that something isn't set up and to click here. Which I do and then spend the next hour filling out all sorts of crap. Then the next time I go to use my four bucks, I get the same error message. This has been going on for years. I'm done. The lists will still be there, but that's all it will be: a plain-text list. Amazon can take its Affiliate crap, fold it 'till it's all points, then shove it. Deep. And on a slant.

What else? Oh, yeah. I checked our site stats today and it seems we are a big hit in Russia. In the last week, we've had more site traffic from Russia than from the US. If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll let you in on a secret: Uncle Vlad pays really well! I can see why Trump, being a savvy business dude, jumped in bed with the guy. I'd have linked to RT years ago if I had only known!

[Dear NSA, FBI, Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, et al.: English does not have "sarcasm" punctuation, which makes it difficult to be clear when one is writing sarcastically. I am. If I were truly in the employ of Putin, neither of us would be working our crappy jobs, nor would we be living in this dump.

Likewise, if Trump were in the employ of Putin, he wouldn't need his current crappy job as POTUS, nor would he live in the antiquated dump known as the White House.

Thank you.]

Everyone who knows me knows that I don't really see much point in the whole "smart" "phone" thing. (The scare quotes are because based on all the problems I see people having with them, neither  the phones nor the people using them seem all that smart. And I never see anyone use the things as a phone.) In fact, they probably annoy me in a way nothing else can. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I'm not the only one:

I attended the carol service of my niece’s nursery school. Upon each carved pew, the screens of the iPhones of proud parents, their heads respectfully bowed, displayed pages from Facebook and Twitter, and twinkled throughout the ancient religious ritual like the stars that led the wise men to the very cradle of Christ.

As the lights dimmed and the candles flared up for a beautiful choral arrangement of the Coventry Carol, the assembled infant singers could look up and see that many of the grownups in the room, their lowered faces lit beatifically from below by the Caravaggio glow of their iPhone screens, were not the slightest fucking bit interested in them or their stupid fucking song.

This is of course a valuable preparation for adult life, where dreams are crushed and hope and pride are trampled in the dirt. Nothing says “Christmas” like orchestrated mass indifference to the creative efforts of small children, I always think.

Which is pretty much what goes through my head anytime I see someone poking at a screen during a meeting or a church service or a wedding or dinner or a funeral. But what really floored me was this bit:

My own Christmas sounds a note of doom. So far, I have escaped ownership of a smartphone or a tablet. With a deserved sense of superiority, I have watched the rest of you degenerate into being no-attention-span zombie scum, fixated on trivial fruit-based games and the capture of invisible Japanese imps, entirely unaware of the geography of your own surroundings, info-pigs gobbling bites of fake news headfirst from shiny troughs 24 hours a day, while our decaying planet performs its last few million fatal, and yet still beautiful, rotations before you.

But now I must become one of you. Having abandoned paper letters, and now declaring even email obsolete, my nine-year-old daughter’s school has told me I need an iPhone to receive any administrative communication.

(Emphasis is mine.)

Wait.What? I'm really hoping that this guy is sending his kid off to some snooty British prep school. Please do not tell me regular schools are doing this crap! It's bad enough that corporate shit-dicks like Dollar General require that their minimum-wage, 15-hour-a-week employees have smartphones for things like obtaining a copy of their W-2 so they can file a tax return. But schools? You have got to be fracking kidding me!

Speaking of RT, I was reading about some hit piece that NPR ran on Lee Camp and his show on RT called Redacted Tonight. I had never heard of such a thing and would have likely died at a ripe old age blissfully unaware that any such person or show had ever existed. But if it was so anti-American and pro-Russian that the mighty NPR had to try to put an end to it, then I was definitely going to watch it.

And I did.

It's basically another faux-news program like The Daily Show that somehow manages to do a better job covering the news while making jokes about it than nearly all "serious" news sources can manage these days. One interesting thing is that I can't watch it on the RT website. The video just craps out about halfway through. But I can watch it no problem on YouTube. I can't prove it, but I'm betting that somewhere along the line, the RT site is being throttled. Nice.

Although Camp is not in Jon Stewart's league by any means, Redacted Tonight is funny and clever enough to spend 20 minutes or so once a week watching it. Camp's Christmas rant alone is worth the price of admission.

Lessee... what else? Oh, yeah. Because I'm on my own and, as everyone is aware, I'm such a raging party animal, I've been binge-watching the original X-Files series. Other than all the computers looking like TRS80's and cell phones the size of Volkswagen's, it holds up pretty well. Sure there are plot holes you could toss Donald Trump through and entire episodes that would be over in five minutes if either of the protagonists had the IQ of pond scum, but I can say that of every dramatic show on TV, past and present (and I'll even go way out on a limb and say, "and future").

Speaking of the future, it's that time of year to look back at what I expected for last year and what I expect for this year. I have to say that I'm really surprised that we made it all the way through 2017 without some sort of crash, bust, implosion, etc. I have to give credit to the Masters of the Universe at the Fed, ECB, BOJ, PBOC, etc. for keeping all the plates spinning for another twelve months. Not that the real economy is in any better shape now than a year ago. The opposite, in fact. But all the modern-day tulip bulb bubbles keep going up; stocks, bonds, real estate. And of course the grand-daddy of all bubbles, Bit-coin and all its crypto-clones. As anyone with memories that go back further than the Tuesday before last Friday knows, that just means the inevitable crash will be even bigger. Maybe 2018? Dunno. The delusions of the masses have outstripped my ability to comprehend. So still-more of the same in 2018 with a high probability of something serious that will give everyone a good, hard shot to the 'nads.

On a personal level, we are both still working. We are not homeless (in spite of the best efforts of the medical industrial complex) nor in prison, so in all a good year. We're still waiting for the Lotto people to give us a call, but no joy yet. I still haven't really recovered from all the medical crap, but I am determined to complete at least one project around this place over the next year. I may have to hire it done, but regardless, it will happen. I feel stupid having to hire things that I know I can do myself (and in fact have done for myself in the past), but I just don't have the energy yet. We'll see what happens.

Well, enough. The X-Files is calling my name....