Ok I’m getting into it

There is nothing funnier than the look people give you when they say “Contact me on Facebook” and you tell them you don’t have a Facebook account.

Social Media

Or a LinkedIn account, Or Instagram, or Pinterest, or, or, or…

The inevitable reply is “But you’re in Technology.”

My response is “Yes, I am but I don’t have to engage in a bunch of time sucks, responding to friend requests, posting comments, liking what someone else said, or anything else. People who really know me can text or call but I have no desire to deal with people I don’t actually know in real life.”

Yeah, I’m old school.

I’ve got a smart phone and I like it, but I don’t want to be so into the unreality of the internet that I miss the reality around me, so I don’t have or want any of those “Services” that suck up my day offering little to nothing in return. I sure as hell don’t want to be so engrossed in my damn phone that I walk into a fountain, door, or a wall.

I read twitter sometimes, but don’t have a bunch of tweets. I browse the newsfeeds but am trying not to dwell on the crap that is going on around the world. I can’t do crap about it, and engaging in online discussions or “Causes” is rather pointless. I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll comment on a hashtag. #worstdateever or something similar is fun and good for a laugh. But none of this is an addiction anymore.

I’m over it, I’m trying to focus my attention on my life and what’s actually in front of me.

I have a new chapter opening in my life and I’ve wasted too many days and too much time to keep wasting it with something that is the height of unreality.

Ya want to meet me? Ya want to have a drink, or dinner? 

Call me, or text me.

I really do prefer, actually being in someone else’s presence. I find a real person is much more fulfilling than some “ghost from the net” sitting behind their phone of computer screen 10,000 miles away from me.

It may not be the right choice for you, but I think it’s going to work just fine for me.

More unintended consequences

I ran across an article talking about a bill that would require folks buying prepaid mobile devices A.K.A. “Burner phones” to register.

Burnerphone

As was pointed out in the article, “Burners” are used legitimately by reporters, investigators, and inside sources, for whom maintaining their anonymity is sometimes a matter of life and death.

Granted there are some criminal elements that use “Burners” for criminal activity. That’s what this proposed legislation is aimed at stopping. 

As I was reading the article a few things went through my mind.

Congress

These lawmakers are trying to demand that everyone purchasing and activating a phone be identified, and registered.

But, these same lawmakers will fight tooth and nail against a voter ID law, on the grounds that the poor can’t afford to have identification.

Yet, the primary market for cheap contract free “Burner” phones is the poor, and often the poorest of the poor, who use these phones as lifelines and methods for finding work. 

Homeless People and their Dogs Unconditional Love 3

Homeless people will sometimes have a “Burner” because they scraped together enough money to buy one, and until they use up its minutes the phone works. If they’re looking for work the phone is important even if they have no permanent address.

But if you force registration, doesn’t that exclude all of the homeless population, further disenfranchising them and forcing them further to the fringes of our society? 

Abused Woman

Then there are abused women for whom a “Burner” may be their only option, if they’re trying to escape their abuser. 

How about runaway children who might realize that a “Burner” would allow them to reach out and call their parents? They likely wouldn’t have a method to “Register” either.

R TEACHERS RUNAWAY CHILDREN large570

Bills like this, aimed at preventing the use of phones for trafficking, anti-terrorism, the drug war, or general criminality, tend to cause as much collateral damage as the very things the Bill is supposed to prevent.

The Representatives who come up with these ideas either never knew or have forgotten what it’s like to be on the lower end of the economic ladder.

They’re like the person I encountered on New Years Eve. They’ve led such charmed lives where nothing really bad happened to them that they can’t even conceive of a situation where they might not have easy access to their ID, or cash, or communication, or travel.

Try bankruptcy, or having your house burn down with your ID, wallet, cash and credit cards inside, for a taste of what it’s like to have nothing and to be excluded from the system. For giggles, leave you house some day without your wallet, that will give you a taste.

110909114759 am wain power outage 00010023 story top

These are the spoiled brats that scream bloody murder when they can’t use their cell phones after a natural disaster. When the power goes out they’re mad because they can’t buy gasoline for their generators, and their frozen dinners have thawed. God forbid they’ve planned for anything, or know how to siphon gas out of their cars.

Remember the chaos of the great Orange County blackout? The folks in Orange County were so horribly inconvenienced they thought their lives had ended. Meanwhile the homeless folks were laughing their asses off because they know what it’s like to live daily without “Essential Services”. Hell afterward there were hearings to blame the cell phone providers for not providing service during an “Emergency”. 

The Martian

In SCUBA there’s a saying. “No matter what else is happening, ask yourself, ‘am I breathing?’ If the answer is yes, then you can set about fixing whatever else is fucked up.

The movie The Martian was an awesome exploration of that concept. “I’m alive, now how do I stay that way?

offthegrid

I guess since I’ve been looking at falling off the grid due to unemployment, and being a planner, perhaps these issues are more relevant to me.

Even now, my big pack downstairs is loaded with my tent and supplies in case of natural disaster, or me deciding it’s just time to walk away from a society that no longer has a place for me. And yes, there’s a “Burner” phone stashed in the pack too.

Welder 011

It’s because of my experiences that I’ve come to believe we don’t need or want a bunch of lawyers, or wealthy people in government.

We need common people because they’re far more likely to bring practicality to government.  It’s why I’m a believer in term limits, campaign spending caps, and grass roots politics.

I’d rather have a welder in congress representing me than some asshole lawyer.

At least the welder, is more likely to have his constituents in mind while he’s sitting in congress. I’ll bet someone like that is also a lot more likely to be in his seat every day congress is in session because that’s his job.

If any of this is ringing a bell with you, take the time to call these elitist politicians out on their stupid ideas. Write to them and tell them they’re idiots and explain politely why you think so.

jackiespeier

I know I’m writing Jackie Speier (D-CA) to tell her my thoughts.

Starbucks Encounters

Starbucks Logo

Starbucks is an interesting place to observe people.

I’m sitting at a small table, waiting for the traffic to die down. I’m blogging, which is also kinda normal for me. But as I was blogging, I thought to myself there are all kinds of stories here. 

There are the usual students, and hipsters. The hipster kid in the beanie on his Macbook FaceTiming on the free WiFi, heedless of the impact he’s having on all the other patrons in the place. 

The disgruntled looks from the other students trying to do research who now have throughput that’s slower than 300 Baud ever was. (You whippersnappers, look it up.)

The annoyed patrons around the kid, as they’re being forcibly included in the kids’ conversation. 

Hipsters1

I’m immune to the throughput issues, because I’m using the hotspot on my phone. I’m at a small table with only one chair in a far corner of the room. The Kid notices me looking at him as he fairly shouts into his headset “I like having you play with my asshole!” 

Ahem, he forgot that the muffling effect of his earbuds meant he couldn’t hear himself and when you can’t hear yourself speak, you tend to yell.

There’s no embarrassment for his part, he’s looking at me with doe eyed innocence, either not realizing that the entire place now knows he likes having his ass played with or simply not caring.

WOW! 


Standing in line

Two people ahead of me. 

Starbucks line

First person has gotten to the counter but has still not decided what they want. Suddenly everything is in slow motion. I’m questioning if I actually need coffee. 

The person finally figures out what they want, and pay for their order.

The next person steps to the counter, “I don’t know what I want…” TIME STOPS! After slow tedious questions and descriptions by the counter person a beverage decision is made.

Only NOW does the lady start digging in her purse for her wallet and a method of payment.

While the lady in front is learning about the merits and growing conditions of Columbian coffee beans, (Which by the way she didn’t buy) Another lady is behind me.

And she’s stepping into my personal space, on my left, then on my right, then on my left, then on my right and she’s bumping me in the process.  All this un-necessary motion in close proximity activates my security instincts.

I turn to carefully look this woman over. I mean carefully, with intensity and precision. 

“What are you a perv,” she asks annoyed at the attention.

“No, I’m just making sure you don’t have a bomb vest on, since you’re obviously agitated, in a rush, and had NO PROBLEM trying to bum rush me out of your way. DO YOU WANT TO GO AHEAD OF ME?” I replied firmly.

Now “crazy lady” is looking at me like I’ve got two heads.  Hey, as far as I’m concerned her opening line about my being a perv was intended to be shocking. So I replied in kind and I think I trumped her

The lady at the counter is still getting her education about coffee beans. 

Crazy Starbucks Lady.

“I’m an American!”

“As am I, ma’m, however apparently I’ve got much better manners and understanding of “waiting in line” social etiquette, than you do.”

“I repeat, do you want to go ahead of me? Honestly, your invasion of my personal space and obvious impatience is putting me very much on edge.”

She blinked like I’d slapped her.

“Uh no.”

“As you wish.”

I turned back to the counter. The lady ahead of us having now completed her coffee bean education, digs into her purse for her wallet… Sigh.


Placing orders.

your order please

My turn: “Cafe Mocha, no whip.” I flash my Starbucks App barcode at the scanner and I’m on my way to the pickup station. Before I get to the pickup station, my phone vibrates telling me that the purchase receipt has arrived.

“Crazy Lady” is asking questions about the coffee drinks… Four minutes later, Cafe Mocha in hand, I’m heading out the door. The line too is out the door, “Crazy Lady” is only now digging in her purse for her wallet…  

There oughta be two lines. One for those of us who know what the hell we want, and another for those who don’t know what they want, and aren’t organized enough to have their method of payment ready.

I know you can place your order on-line, I’m just enough of a luddite I still like having the interaction. 

I’d like the lines…

If you get in the “I know what I want line,” and don’t have your order and payment ready, you get asked to step to the other line.

10 Seconds! That’s all you get, If you don’t have your cash out, or payment thing ready, your order is canceled and you’re asked to step to the back of the other line. 

Fitting punishment, I’d say.


Sitting at a table

Starbucks Table

When I sit at a Starbucks table, I like to hang out, out of the main flow of people.

I’m often working on a book or a blog, or coding something on a website. Generally, I can shut out the hustle and bustle around me as white noise and be in my own little world.

Sometimes though, my attention is drawn to the mini-dramas playing out in the rest of the place.

The crying child. The angry person on their phone. The older person having their first experience with Starbucks. The students, and hipsters grooving to their own beats. The gaudy dude in the tasteless suit wearing fake diamonds bigger than the Hope diamond in his ears, and the cheap flashy Rolex knock-off. (Dude, here’s a hint, we know it’s all fake because of your shoes and the POS beater car we saw you get out of.) The homeless guy outside on the patio trying to stay out of the wind and find a little shade drinking the left-overs, and getting a little charity from the occasional good soul.

Starbucks Crowd

It’s a cross section of humanity, and very often an interesting mélange of people. There’s a texture to the people at Starbucks, with some variations dependent on region, all Starbucks are the same.

The mélange of people is essentially the same, and when you’ve been in enough Starbucks you start to think you’re seeing even the same individuals in every store.

So much for originality or uniqueness! 


Relaxation

Crowd1

Sitting there doing my thing and tuning in and out of the mini dramas is strangely relaxing for me.

I’ve never run into anyone I actually knew at a Starbucks. Everyone in the place are strangers. I get to engage in judgement without guilt.

Starbucks mini dramas provide material for my writing. I think I’m relieved that I don’t actually have to live all of the drama to get a feel for what it’s about.

I think I’m relaxed because I’m reminded that my problems aren’t unique, and my focus is expanded beyond my immediate crisis. 

What’s that old saying?

Misery loves company…

The Precious!

Apple march event invitation 800home thumb800

Apple is making new product announcements today!

Bright shiny more powerful machines. Whoo hooo!

I’ll be taking time off from the incessant job search to see what new covetable things Apple will release on the world.

Comey fbi


I was thinking, in one of my more insane moments, that Apple could offer two versions of IOS and let the public decide the outcome of Apple’s fight with the FBI. One version would be secured as the OS is today, and the GovIOS version would be one where the government held the encryption keys

If the majority of the people installed GovIOS then Apple could focus their security research on GovIOS and move on. Somehow, I think that people who installed GovIOS would be in the infinitesimal minority. 

I’d also love to see James Comey’s face when the press asked if he’d installed GovIOS on his personal iPhone.


IPhone lineup

Apple is supposed to be releasing a new iPhone and a new tablet today.

The new phone is rumored to be about the same size as the iPhone5s. But it’s supposed to have features of the iPhone 6s. I’m hoping that Apple manages to just put the iPhone 6s into the iPhone 5s size. 

Some of the rumors have suggested that Apple is going to cheapen the smaller phone by limiting options. I of course, ask why? I genuinely like the size of my iPhone5s. it fits in my hand and my pocket comfortably.  If I could have the memory, NFC (for Apple Pay), improved cellular radio, WiFi and camera of the iPhone 6s in the 5s size, I’d pay for it. I’m not sure I’d pay the $849 Apple is charging for the iPhone 6s (Because of the screen size differences) but I could see myself really weighing the options. Maybe $749 for 128GB in a phone the size of the iPhone5s?

Nonetheless, I’m curious about the new iPhone and depending on the price / features and the outcome of the pending legislation in California regarding encrypted phones and the outcome of the FBI v. Apple case, I may wait for the iPhone 7s or buy an iPhone SE or have to go with a 6s.

If the Idiots in Sacramento have their way, no encrypted cellphone will be sold in California after Jan 1, 2017.  I swear, if lawmakers keep on fooling around, Apple will relocate to Ireland.  At the same time, the idiots will manage to kill the retail cellular market in the state.

I’m sure that Nevada and Arizona will appreciate the boon to tourism and business. I can see weekend planning sounding like, “Oh, lets take a quick run up to Las Vegas for the weekend while we’re there we can buy new phones!


IPad lineup

I’m interested in the new iPad as well. I’ve got an iPad Mini that I really like. But it’s getting tired, I’ve been intrigued by the iPad Air for its size and weight. So I’m curious about the update to the iPad line. I could get very excited about an iPad Mini that included features from the iPad Pro. The pencil for example? But depending on size and weight, the new iPad might tempt me long before Apple rolls a Mini with “Pro” features.


I don’t have the cash for any of this. But planning to update my machines is an expression of hope / faith that I will find a new job and I’ll have the cash in the future.

Misty Forest

The alternative is to hike into a forest with my tent, and go off-grid in a seriously old school way. I’m a very out of practice hunter, an OK angler, and tend to do ok without people.

Oddly enough, that has some appeal. 

Took a little break yesterday

I took the day off yesterday. I know, given my employment situation, that’s counterintitutve, let me explain.

Sometimes you just need to escape.

My world is starting to collapse, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve been pounding my head against a wall for years now; trying to catch a break and get back into my profession. Nothing has worked and frankly the job related websites and social media sites have been a waste of time.

iuI’ve been orbiting a black hole and the orbit is decaying. The gaping maw of professional oblivion has got me and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Now I know why the band played on as the Titanic sank.

I am experiencing first hand, how some phrases come into being. Remember the old favorite, “Re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?” How about, “When rape is inevitible, relax and try to enjoy it.”

Sorry… I’m sounding a little whiney and I’m getting slightly off point.

stress-2Worry, fear, anger, and fight, are all good and necessary feelings, they can guide you, strengthen you, and to some extent are all necessary to ensure survival. (I’m honestly not sure about worry but I think it’s a precursor to fear and the fight or flight response.)

That being said, in a situation where these things are the only diet you have, you lose persective and become numb. After a while you simply stop giving a flying fuck. This is a relatively new phenomena, in days past, you might worry that the guy from the next farm over had a grudge but the worry wasn’t long term because you’d call him out, and it would be settled by the inevitable fight.

These days, you’re being damaged, attacked, hurt, raped… and there’s no-one to take a swing at. You have no choice but to keep trying to succeed but failing that, you can’t engage in any of the normal human behaviors. How do you fight the ethereal? What are you running from, or to?

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpgAs an aside; this is, I think part of the explaination for Trumps campaign success.

There are a lot of people just like me who feel that their back is against the wall; not because thery’re pro, or anti social justice, or selfish per se, but because their options are increasingly limited by the erosion of the middle class.

A lot of folks are simply realizing that things are getting worse, not better for them economically.

When was the last time anyone had their boss hand them a bonus check for a job or project that was particularlly well done? I believe, the imposition of institutional mediocracy has done more damage to us as a people, than anything in the past 50 years.

“Sorry, dude but I can only give you a 2% raise because that’s what everyone is getting. But I recognize that you’ve worked very hard this year.”

incredibles-team-the-incredibles-10-incredible-facts-in-honor-of-its-tenth-anniversary-jpeg-168588There was a line from the movie The Incredibles that resonated with me. “When everyone’s special, no-one is.

If that’s your mentality or your corporation’s then why not just “phone it in, all the time?” This is how you diminish exceptionalism, and gut innovation, and progress.

Since there’s no upside to innovation, doing something faster, better, or smarter, you end up with a group of people who will find ways to get what they need with the minimum of effort. Or the people will turn their intellect to finding ways around the rules.

As an example, take a look at the former Soviet Union. I’ve got a couple of Russian friends that are absolutely the GO-TO people if you want to figure out how to get more from a bureaucracy. One guy managed to manipulate the insurance bureaucracy so that he got 5 technically elective surgeries in 7 months and way more than the allotted time off work during the same period of time. He wanted the surgeries, didn’t want to pay for them, and used the down time to finish law school and pass the bar. While getting paid to do it.

I wasn’t sure about the ethics of his actions, but I damn sure respected his ability to manipulate the insurance company and the Human Resources department of the company from whom we worked. In retrospect, I should have taken many more lessons from him.

I think Trump’s rise is based on the frustrations of the middle class being squeezed out and having their options for advancement limited. He’s telling America something that is closer to the truth than we’ve heard in 20 years.

It’s resonating because lies of establishment politicians are coming home to roost. Even if Trump is lying, at least it’s a different pack of lies that sound more like truth, than the previous pack of lies.

I’m reminded of a certian frustrated Artiste cum house painter from Austria. It could be argued that this house painter came to power because he capatilized on the frustration of a citizenry who’d grown tired of platitudes and wanted to see action from their leaders. I don’t know if that argument would stand up under scrutiny, but as a broad generalization It might.

I digress.

Old BooksSo the problem is, how do you take a “Vacation” without spending money you don’t have, fuel you can’t afford, or whatever?

There are a great many things you can do to pass the time. You can have sex, (with yourself or others.)

You can drink until you pass out. Drinking numbs the pain for a while, but you wake up feeling like shit.

You can smoke a little weed, but if you’re the least bit prone to paranoia that can actually add to your stress level and an outstanding case of the munchies can clear your pantry. Both the weed and the muncies can cost you as much as a trip to the movies or more.

You can clear out your medicine cabinet, eating all the Rx pain killers you have on hand. (Dangerous, but for some people it works.)

You can binge watch your DVD collection.

Or you can do what I did.

imagesTurn off the damn computer, tablet, phone, TV, stereo, what have you and read a book, or two.

Since I was a kid, books have been my escape from reality.

My learning to read is the single greatest gift, next to unconditional love, I’ve ever received.

So in a bit of a funk, I turned to my oldest truest friend. I opened a book, and stepped into another world.
Talos_IV_remastered

I re-read a story I’d read years back and I laughed and cried, and ohhed and ahhhed, and for a time, rested my over stressed mind.

My world and it’s associated troubles faded away. I was in another place, and was using my mind in a completely different way.

Instead of worrying about things, I was with the characters in a world where I could taste victory and success.

It was a nice break and while my problems still exist the respite provided by books is a welcome one. I also saved myself a trip to Talos IV.

TOS_1x00_012I hope your world is stable and spinning on, and that your reality is as pleasant.

Wow the week got by me.

helpwanted

On the job front nothing is new. Meaning that I’m still getting lip service from headhunters who’ve managed to insinuate themselves into even direct hiring processes.

You apply to a company, on their corporate website, and then you’re contacted by ManPower or some other third party organization, because the company you applied to, is overwhelmed or doesn’t have an HR department.

American businesses have trimmed and pared down to the point that they can’t hire without outside agencies, it’s representative of how changed the hiring landscape is, and how the placement agencies have adapted to those changes. It’s an effective business model.

Like good parasites, the placement agencies have become integral to their hosts, without killing them. I suppose that the relationship is now symbiotic instead of parasitic. But since so many of these placement agencies have roots in other countries, or significant numbers of employees who are from other countries is it any wonder that H1B1 workers may have an advantage over native workers?


webdesign

A friend told me flat out, to stop banging my head against a wall trying to get back into my former profession, and do nothing but web design.  This speaks well of how happy he is with the web site I built for his business. I’m not sure that I’m good enough to be competitive but maybe he’s got a point.

I get SPAM from India all the time telling me how starting at $400 they’ll build me a website.

What I bring to the table is helping someone find a web hosting service, getting a domain name, and getting their site built, tested, uploaded to their new host and connected to their shiny new domain name.

I’m not sure how to price myself, in that market and there’s all the things I don’t currently know. I’ve been involved with publishing one way or another, since almost my very first job. I’ve done marketing collateral for corporations and been the primary driver / layout / publishing person behind a local 30 page full color magazine. I mean people ate up the magazine like candy. 

Of course, I designed the magazine to be visual candy, so I suppose that was mission accomplished.

Even this blog, as simple as it is, I’ve gotten compliments about. This blog is nothing more  than vanity. The blog is a way for me to keep writing, even if I’m not writing stories, writing frequently helps me with phrasing and putting my thoughts on “paper”.

It’s not a big deal for me to transfer that experience to a new media. 

I guess it’s a confidence issue, people say I’m good at this kind of thing but am I? Or are people just being nice?

Domain Names are fairly inexpensive to purchase. Meh, it can’t hurt to see if people are interested in finding someone that’s willing to put their web sites together and then maintain them for reasonable prices.

I suppose that folks I’ve built websites for, might let me link to their sites as a sort of portfolio. Maybe that’s the next step, I’ll ask.  It would give their sites more exposure and help me too.


SIRI & The FBI

I saw this today and laughed out loud. I thought I’d share it.