Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shit Houses, Shitholes, and Other Shit

Whatever term Trump did or did not use, his point stands. Some countries are shitholes. That doesn't mean that every single person living there is a shithole, but before allowing them into our country, we should take a much closer look at them than we would someone from a non-shithole country like Norway. Of course, most of the shitholes in the world were created by the US, like both of Trump's examples (El Salvador and Haiti). And soon it won't matter, because the same people going nuts over whatever it was that Trump did or did not say, are busy turning the US into yet-another shithole. Once we are as big a shithole as Somolia, what motivation would anyone have to come here anyway?

Problem solved.

In yet-another example of Florida as the Land of Stupid, a couple walk up to a hotel valet stand, demand the keys to a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider and drive off. Problem: it wasn't their Ferrari. When they were stopped by police, the guy claimed that a) he didn't steal anything because the valet gave him the keys, and anyway, he was planning on taking it back; and b) he didn't have a clue how all that cocaine got on the center console. The real owner is now suing the hotel for unspecified damages. I'm assuming the valet was fired, but I'm pretty sure that would have happened no matter what he did. He reported that the guy was acting like a douche, and nothing screams Ferrari-owner like being an insufferable douche. I mean, who else other than a complete douche would spend $300,000 on a frackin' car. If the valet had refused to give him the keys and it turns out that the guy was the owner and really had left his valet ticket in the car, what do you think would have happened to the valet? Exactly. A classic no-win situation.

It looks like Michigan is trying to catch up with Florida in the Land of Stupid competition. A guy gets arrested for murder, then asks about the status of his "other murder case" during his arraignment. Right before that question would have been a great time for Rodriques-Ortiz to shut up. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for society), he did not. Wasn't it Mark Twain (or maybe Lincoln; or maybe Proverbs) who said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt"?

It appears that the medical-industrial complex isn't done with us yet. Now it's my dad who is being sent off for a battery of tests. For some reason, the only place on planet earth these tests can be done is down in Tampa, where my father is not allowed to drive. The day of his appointment is normally one of my days off, so my parents thought they were all set. But alas, it is on the one Wednesday of the month that I work due to the monthly physical inventory being taken. So now we are scrambling to find transportation. What makes it more difficult that it ought to be is that they won't even give a time for the test; they'll call the night before and let us know when he is supposed to be there. What in bloody hell? Have I mentioned lately how much I hate doctors?

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate working?

Anyway, we have most of our tax forms, so I need to go make a first cut at our taxes.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ronald Kellaway, RIP

We got word that my Uncle Ron passed Sunday morning. The MRI had shown damage to the brain stem, so it was already decided that there would be no "heroic" measures taken. My mom isn't well enough to travel, so she won't be there for the funeral. She was instructed not to come by both her sister (Ron's wife) and her nephew (Ron's son), so it looks like we won't need to figure out how to get my parents up to Michigan.

And I'm becoming weary of typing those three letters in post titles.

2018? Still suckin'.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Robert Thompson, RIP

Bob has been seriously ill for quite some time. It seemed he was recently making some progress, but I read a post on his site by Barbara (his wife) that he died during the night on Saturday. Bob's blog is another link that has been on this site since day one. He will be sorely missed.

In other medical news: Debbie's mom seems to be doing better. She is more alert and has been responding to yes/no questions. They are supposed to be changing out her trach for something that will allow her to talk. She is moving her right arm and leg more as well.

My mom is home and stable. She seems to be fully recovered other than some slight aphasia. She will be talking along just fine, then the completely wrong word will come out or she will simply blank out on the name of something or someone. No one is saying whether this is a permanent thing or what, so I guess it's just wait and see.

So that's the good news.

We got word on Saturday that my Uncle Ron, who was already in the hospital for a triple by-pass, had a massive stroke and was completely non-responsive. Late yesterday, he was scheduled for an MRI to see if there was any reason to continue to treat him. No word yet on the outcome of that. His son had just died in November at 41 years of age. Nothing like piling it on.

We got word yesterday that my Uncle Jimmy's mom passed away. It was not unexpected, but that really doesn't mean much. No matter how "expected", death is never... well... expected.

So yea, 2018 ain't lookin' any brighter from here.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone up in Michigan.

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.


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.



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....