Total Authority

I deliberately waited a few days to see if anyone on the right-leaning side of politics would freak out over Trumps declaration this week. In a tantrum over states doing more than he is to protect their citizens, he declared, “I have total authority over when the states will reopen their economies….” I’m paraphrasing a bit but the gist is the same. As the famous commercial poking fun at Facebook goes, “that’s not how this works, that’s now how any of this works….

At every turn, the right-leaning folks were tearing down President Obama over his executive orders.1 They acted like he attempted to be a King instead of a duly elected president. It was a routine talking point throughout his entire 8-year presidency. The outrage and talking points were never ending. The propaganda engine ran 24/7 selling the narrative President Obama was trying to be a king. He was “abusing his authority” and “after your guns“.2 Naturally, the republican base ate it up.

Fast forward to now and no one has said anything about Trump’s alarming statement. Of course, state media Faux news is congratulating him and touting is actions as ‘strong leader’. Forgetting for a moment Trump has repeatedly demonstrated a consistent lack of understanding of even basic civics, he all but declared himself King. The right is falling all over themselves to support him. Actually, I take that back. Let us NOT forget Trump’s lack of understanding of basic civics. Rather than accepting he doesn’t understand everything, he fires anyone who dares to stand for honesty or integrity over his narrative. He lies so often he contradicts himself almost daily now. You only have to pay attention to see it. Worse, he has crippled our democracy by allowing functional depts that handle our safety and infrastructure to go unmanned. He is creating a bottle neck where anything that doesn’t go thru him doesn’t get done. He is making himself a de facto king and no one on the right cares. In fact, they are celebrating it.

I don’t need to say a big chunk of my extended family is conservative. Not a peep out of any of them. Granted, the pandemic is a bit of a distraction right now so it could be argued they are distracted. However, I’ve yet to see a single one mention how terrible Trump has been on handling this crisis. We’ve now lost a family member who was exposed in a hospital for an unrelated illness and still not a peep. Granted, a big chunk of them also don’t vote so I guess there is a silver lining there.

I’m just so ashamed of my fellow man and the apathy demonstrated by so many in regards to our declining way of life. The system is crumbling and when it crashes it will be too late to ask questions.

Hope springs eternal…

  1. Even though he issued far fewer than his previous republican predecessors []
  2. And yet, we ended up with less regulation on guns as a law banning assault rifles, passed by a republican president and a republican controlled congress with the full support of the NRA, was not renewed. []

Can’t Fix Stupid

I have given up trying to encourage folks to overcome their entitlements and “know better” attitudes. And not just online, I’ve had interactions with friends and distant family alike who “know better” and plan to act accordingly. I can’t fix stupid so after this rant, I’m done.

COVID-19 is a novel1 virus we as a species have never been exposed to before. So unlike a lot of more common variations of Coronaviruses2, we do not have genetic, inherited, or even direct resistance to it. This creates a new risk factor that cannot yet be calculated. More importantly, it is showing a high level mutation factor. There are reports of blood types and certain genetic factors giving you some resistance but not immunity, but even those are still correlative right now.

Many states have implemented shelter-in-place orders. And unlike an order to quarantine under martial law, you can still go out for personal care and the care of those you are directly responsible for. You can walk and get out of the house for fresh air as long as you maintain social distance from anyone not already in your immediate household. You can shop for food and necessities. You can walk your pets. You can go to the bank, gas stations, convenient stores, laundry facilities, etc. You can still order food from restaurants, albeit to-go or delivery in most areas. On top of that, beyond the hoarding, the nation is not experiencing a food shortage.3 You are not in danger of starving, dehydration, or even doing without most day to day necessities. So in essence, you are being asked to inconvenience yourself. How terrible, right? /sarcasm

If you live in an area where you can get tested, great. If you ‘need’ to travel or interact with others who are considered high risk, you should get tested. If you aren’t, then you do not need testing without symptoms. More importantly, the test itself is only as good as your self-isolation. The moment you go out in public, touch surfaces, or interact closely with anyone, your test is no longer relevant. Self-isolation is meant to protect you as much, if not more, people who are at higher risk. Those being the elderly, immune-compromised, cancer patients, advanced cardiac or respiratory illness patients, diabetics, etc. You can have zero symptoms and inadvertently pass the virus onto them. You might not even get sick and still pass it on.

While there is no need to panic, there is good reason to be concerned and take precautions. There is zero reason to hoard or panic buy. There is no need to buy more than 2-3 weeks worth of necessities at a time. And Christ on a cracker, you do NOT need to wear a damn mask unless you are coughing, regardless of exposure! A regular face mask will not protect you in the slightest. An N95 mask is only as good as the seal it makes on you face, which most folks constantly touch and or fuss with. So again, not helpful. More importantly, by buying all the N95 masks, you are depriving the essential service personnel of these much needed items.

This entitlement idea that ‘your freedoms’ are being restricted is nonsense. First of all, “your” freedom is not guaranteed at the expense of everyone else. And you aren’t being enlisted to fight a war, jump on the front lines with police, fire, & medical staff, or even lift a finger. You are being asked to self-isolate by staying at home. You are literally being asked to do nothing. If you are so petty as to not overcome being inconvenienced, then you deserve whatever happens to you IMO.

Yes, you may have to cancel trips, weddings, family gatherings, etc. Yes, you may have to avoid loved ones who do not live in your immediate househould.4 Yes, you might not be able to go to the gym,5 bar, or sporting event. So in essence, you are being inconvenienced. The end.

Listen and live or be foolish, your choice. With the latter. the life you lose may not be your own.

  1. meaning: new []
  2. note, it is one word, not two []
  3. The distribution is being impacted from panic-buyers and hoarders, but there is no shortage. []
  4. If only we had some sort of technology to over come that isolation…like cellphones and video chats! []
  5. oh lawd I am sooo struggling with this one []

Follow?

I get so tickled at some of the games people play on social media. If you use Instagram (IG) at all, I’m sure you’ve seen the “follow for follow” or “unfollow = unfollow” comments in profiles.

Bitch, if I unfollow you I don’t really care if you unfollow me. I ain’t following you anymore so why would I care? lol This happens because ‘follows’ have become a bit of a game where scam profiles (or even legit ones) follow a bunch of other accounts in the hopes of quickly gaining followers. Once you follow them, they often unfollow you. Since IG doesn’t display this you technically don’t know they have unfollowed you. Having a lot of followers on IG is like being rich in monopoly money. Why I certainly enjoy when I get new followers, much like my blog, it is not my purpose. I go out of my way to track and block fake accounts.

It all panders to our insecurities and need for approval. Bitch, I tackled those demons years ago. As Bianca would say, “Not today, Satan! Not today!” lol1

I only like to follow folks that interest me in someway. To be frank, I follow a lot of muscle guys for motivation to get my ass in the gym. I typically follow guys that are bigger than me but not huge. I honestly don’t find huge guys attractive or motivational. At some point, you just look gross IMO.2 Of course, like most homos, I follow accounts of guys I’m attracted to as well. So you can see my IG is pretty shallow most days. lolol And I’m ok with that because it serves a purpose without really impacting me in a way I find detrimental. I don’t obsess over guys I consider more attractive. Nor do I put myself down because I haven’t reached a fitness goal that nears perfection. I already know I’ll never reach that level and don’t plan to.3 I use the profiles/pics for motivation to remind me to get my lazy ass to the gym. And yes, the occasional stimulation doesn’t hurt none either. heehee

If you follow me there, you know most of my posts are selfies from the gym, trips, and dogs. That about sums it up. You might get inspired, bored, or neither. That is ok cause I on there for me. I appreciate comments and likes but I don’t go out of my way to capture the ‘perfect selfie’. Most of time, it is very spur of the moment pics.

Besides, does anyone really need hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of followers? Who could possibly keep up with that? Not me. I’m get tired just scrolling thru all the bulldog profiles!

  1. Speaking of, going to see her on 11.15.19, can’t wait! []
  2. And don’t go getting triggered. I ain’t “yuck-ing your yum”, I just don’t like it for myself. []
  3. It is way too much damn work for one. []

Snap

There are days where I see what humans are doing to this planet and I think to myself, “ya know, maybe Thanos had the right idea?” Then I realize we’d still be stuck with half the stupid people and I just shake my head.

If you told me 20 years ago we’d still be disparaging people over the color of their skin or calling vaccines sorcery I wouldn’t have believed you. Sadly, that is where we are today in 2019.

Our selfishness will be our undoing.

Pride & Prejudice

So as usual, there is in-fighting amongst all the letters in our glorious alphabet of communities. This year seems to have taken a new twist as people are losing their sh*t over changes to the rainbow flag in PA. Apparently, some folks have decided to add extra stripes to denote the inclusion of race.

For my part, I don’t really care either way. If you want to add some stripes to represent the inclusion of race on the flag be my guest. The rainbow flag is just a symbol. It doesn’t define me or my life so modifying it doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. Symbols are meant to represent us, not define us.

On the one side, racism is just as prevalent in the gay community as it is in the straight world. What harm is there in adding reflections of race to show inclusion? Even though the flag wasn’t meant to reflect race, so what if some people want to include a variation that includes it. I’ve seen so many personal variations of the rainbow flag for years. Where is the outrage on all those variations? No one owns a symbol anymore than they own an idea. Let us all stop acting like changing a recognized symbol will end all our hard earned rights.  

On the other side, I also don’t really think it helps anything. Many of our racial tensions are tied to various socioeconomic issues. Until we work thru these, changing a symbol does absolutely nothing IMO. Actions are stronger than words. How about we stop using disrespectful terms to refer to other races? How about we stop acting like every unflattering joke or mention of race/gender is an attack? Even better, how about we stop marginalizing everyone because of the actions of a few? Instead, let us accept that others suffer differently than you. Be willing to look outside your sphere of existence to see thru another’s eyes.These actions and attitudes are much more effective at stopping hate, mistrust, and fear.

This whole pissing match is a reflection of the deeper issues within our umbrella. These ever growing trends of attacking and/or shaming anyone who disagrees, even in the slightest, are doing the work of our enemies for them. We are destroying our communities from within. Our umbrella of people rarely agree on any given topic. Why must we make enemies of each other over different view points like this? The level of vitriol and disgusting behavior I’ve seen on both sides has been deeply disturbing. This is not how we should be treating each other.We can disagree with our allies w/o labeling them as enemies. We can be patient and show understanding as we try to educate those around us who thru privilege or ignorance don’t understand a given viewpoint. Shock value and strong-arm tactics might sometimes work against our enemies but when we use them on our allies we only further the divide between us.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I still support equality and freedom for all. That makes me an ally even though I’m a person who won’t be shouted down just because I don’t always see eye to eye with everyone else. When we silence the voices of our allies over internal squabbles, what is their motivation to speak for us when we need them? And don’t even get me started on the growing tide of small groups who decide they can’t compromise even a little. They demand to have their way or else. If you refuse, they do everything possible to obstruct or shut down the process. How is that productive? You don’t win hearts and minds that way.

While the LGBTI movement has taken some significant large steps recently, it took decades to get this far. We gained many of our rights slowly one at time. We still have more to accomplish. Many of these new found rights are under renewed attack. We need to be unified now more than ever.

Absent Minded

So the last picture post here was supposed to go to my photo blog. Apparently, my dumb-ass forgot I changed some passwords a while back so it stopped updating. To make matters worse, when I updated it, I forgot how I had setup the transfer and ended up creating a new IFTTT1 applet.

When I originally setup the photo blog there wasn’t a direct way to import my photos from IG to WordPress. I had to create a work-around that sent the pic from IG to Tumblr then to WordPress. It was a bit messy but it worked pretty well. Best of all, it was automated. Well, all of the API’s have been updated since then apparently. There are multiple applets in IFTTT that allow you to import directly. My IFTTT account has my blog settings not my photo blog so when I “reconnected”, I connected it to the wrong site. hehehe Not the end of the world mind you. I just thought it was funny.

It’s all fixed now. I still need to go back and manually import all the pics that got skipped but it’s all automated again. Yay!

In other tech fails, I installed Chromium on an old laptop and for some reason, the CD drive will not re-install windows. Granted it’s an old copy but it should work. The BIOS settings are all good and the drive is functioning so I’m leaning toward blaming the install disc.  It crashes after loading the software and drivers to install and I get the blue screen of death.  I’m not too upset as I hate Windows 10. It’s clunky, ugly, and just not user friendly. It tries and fails to be a universal OS between desktop and mobile. I’m thinking of just installing Linux. I don’t use the laptop that often, but Chromium is still just a wee bit too simple for my needs. If I could just port Android it would be fine.2  Since it wasn’t ‘designed’ to run Android or Chromium both versions are modified ports, courtesy of 3rd-party vendors. Said vendors aren’t really in a position to provide support. Anyway, first world problems.

 

  1. If This Then That []
  2. I used to run Android thru Bluestacks when I had windows installed and I loved it. []

United We Stand

So I’ve gotten more than a few questions about my opinion on the whole United debacle. I relented and commented on a few FB friend’s posts regarding it. I say relented because I pretty much avoid FB for anything other than fun chat and dog videos. It has become too toxic and successful discourse is rarely possible anymore. 

Anyway, how do you think I feel? I’m appalled. The idea that a passenger who paid full fare for a ticket can be physically yanked off a plane for overbooking is reprehensible. I don’t care if it was United Express (contracted by United). I don’t care that it was a security official not an actual United employee who did the beating/dragging. I don’t care that it’s in the fine print a paying customer can be booted off a flight for virtually any reason. Greed should not be more important that humans.1  I don’t care about all the reasons why he could have complied. This person paid full-fare to board a plane and fly home. It is not his fault the flight was overbooked out of the misplaced idea that profit is more important than good service. None of that matters. We should all be appalled at the very idea this can be allowed.  And lastly, I don’t care another flight might have been delayed or *gasp* other people might have been inconvenienced. You know what?  Sometimes we get inconvenienced. The world does not revolved around our personal bubble of existence. There were plenty of better ways to handle this. 

Don’t get it bent, I’m not dragging out the lynch mob torch for United just yet. Frankly, I think people are missing the forest for the trees here. This could just as easily have happened on any airline. United just ended up being the unlucky beneficiary. I know many United employees (from the both the old Continental and United) who are very dedicated to their jobs and I’m sure many of them are struggling to fend off drama from both sides right now. And being a long time Southwest customer, I can tell you first hand they routinely kick people off flights. All major airlines have the same or similar policy. The big picture here is how many people feel it was perfectly justified. It was NOT ok. And the fallout witch hunt to demean and degrade the victim aftewards was just as disgusting. When your moral code justifies physically dragging a paying customer of a plane to avoid inconveniencing someone else, perhaps you should re-examine your sense of morality. That is the real tragedy IMO. 

Our society is crumbling around us bit by bit. Greed, anti-intellectualism, and personal indifference are destroying our sense of right and wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it as long as I have breath to say it. The one good thing out of this debacle is the outrage was so bad I’m pretty sure no airline will ever try this again. Maybe we’ll see some good reforms put in place to ensure something we used to take for granted would never happen will actually never happen again. Either way, I’m sure everyone will have forgotten all about it next week when the next faux scandal comes along.  

  1. Notice I said ‘should not be’ vs ‘isn’t. This clearly demonstrates it’s past tense now. []

Worlds End

I’ve written and rewritten this post several times now, which tells me my thoughts and emotions on the subject haven’t settled yet. 

Where do we go from here? A man no one took serious in the beginning with his crazy talk and racist banter has vaulted to the highest office in our land. And he didn’t steal it.1  He won it because he secured the necessary electoral votes. And even though he lost the popular vote, he will be our next president. To say I’m sad, heartbroken, distraught, and even fearful of the coming future would be an understatement. The world is still turning but our society in America is about to undergo a radical shift and not for the better I’m afraid. 

This is not an ordinary election. This is not just sour-grapes over my candidate not winning. There is a real palpable fear for not only our very democracy but our families and loved ones. So I guess the real question is how much can one man (and his party) damage our country in a single 4-year cycle? We could hope he ends up being a lame-duck due to in-fighting with his own party. I certainly don’t think he will tow the line for them. But what about the issues he does agree with? What about his own crazy notions? 

The Republicans are already lining up to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Millions of people in the double-digits will lose access to even basic health-care. Granted, insurance exchanges and the companies in them don’t have to stop. They could continue to offer acces. However, the rules that stop them from rejecting folks with pre-existing conditions will be gone. Many other rules that made the program so successful will also be gone. And states would also be free to forcibly abolish them by creating new laws. 

Then the LGBT marriage issue comes up. I personally think this will be a hard one as the SCOCTUS was fully constituted when the case was originally heard and rehearing a decided case so soon is unprecidented, not impossible but unprecidented. It is easy to argue we are in unprecidented territory and relying on precident isn’t a real comfort. And that doesn’t mean the legislature can’t find other ways to interfere just like they’ve done with abortion. He already gets to pick the next justice for the court. You can guarantee it will be a hyper-conservative anti-gay one. The cronies behind him are already laying the groundwork and building their lists of hopefuls. Racism and homophobia are out of the closest again. And any case decided while the SCOTUS was not fully constituted can be brought back up the chain and reheard. You think the new court will favor Union rights? And what if something happens and he gets to appoint more justices? He will sway the court for decades. 

I read announcements today regarding many of Trumps’s previous choices for his cabinet and was mortified. Palin, Christie (if he doens’t end up in prison first), Guiliani, Carson, etc. His list is full of anti-LGBT, anti-science, anti-climate change, and anti-women choices. And let us not forget the no longer subtle racist individuals in his campaign. These folks, thru his appointment, pose as much if not greater threat to us than he does. 

No, the world didn’t end yesterday. And it won’t end tomorrow. But once Trump takes office and starts changing out the heads of government, what will become of our society? I wonder how many of the people pretending this isn’t a national tragedy will still be nay-saying it 4 years from now. For everyone’s sake, I hope they’re right. For myself, I’m fortunate to live where I do. California is a stronghold of democratic values and San Francisco is at the head of the pack. But we’ve already seen incidents of hate and homophobia here, yes even here we aren’t completely immune. 

I’ve reached a point of stability in my life where I’m not overly worried for myself. And I’m saying that because I dragged myself from nothing to where I am today. But I worry for those like me still struggling to reach where I am. I imagine so many LGBT folks out there struggling the way I did just to get ahead and to make something of themselves. They get to face newer and higher hurdles because of our politics. I worry for the rest of my community. Trump isn’t even in office yet and attacks against LGBTI and minority communities are on the rise. I’ve read some of my friends trying to down play it like it isn’t a big deal. Mind you, many of those friends are white and aflluent so of course they don’t feel threatened. But, if trump crashes our economy or removes many of the restrictions that keep companies in check, they might be singing a different tune when they find their 401k’s have become worthless. Or they wake up to find their food/water has been poisoned. The EPA will most certainly be neutered. What about the FCC? What about education? I worry for my younger brother. He won’t have access to medical care if his wife loses her job. He is suffereing from digenerative bone disease in his back and still has a couple years of medical needs ahead of him. And whatever the final outcome, he may need access beyond that? 

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think the American people realized how dangerous Trump and his sycophant cronies really are. They got caught up in the hype and the sensationalism that is our media now. But they will find out all too soon. Or, we’ll keep ignoring climate change and the environment will kill us off 

by the millions. Either way, as a life long optimist, I’m strugging to find hope right now. 

As my maw-maw always said, “careful what you wish for because when you get it, you’re stuck with it.” I just hope we can survive being stuck with Trump. 

  1. That point being arguable based on the never ending propoganda against Hillary but the reference is more to the Bush/Gore debacle. []

Aria

The title sounds like a whimsical name doesn’t it? "Aria" is the brand name for Fitbit’s new weight scale. I mentioned a while back that Shawn and I have really gotten into using our Fitbits. Shawn decided to buy Fitbit’s new , code named Aria, to help track our fitness and health. It was a little more than you’d spend on a regular scale but overall not terribly expensive. I actually got a little excited at the prospect because 1) I’m a geek, and 2) I usually have to weigh myself at the gym. It would have been nice to track my weight progress via the app. I say ‘would have’ because It was an absolute flop. The device was simple in design and aesthetically pleasing; however, getting it to work properly was such a struggle we finally gave up and are sending it back. Talk about product fail!

Shawn actually felt like his view on the company as a whole was tarnished, which is why I bring it up today. He asked me if I felt like the whole line of products was cheap because of our experience w/such a shoddy scale. I didn’t necessarily feel the same but it did get me to thinking. How often does a first time experience tarnish a brand’s view or image? I’d imagine quite a lot. For myself, I’m more irritated than anything. We really like Fitbit as a whole and to experience so much frustration over a simple product was disappointing.

Part of me falls back on the adage, "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." And to keep things in perspective, this is a first world problem. No one really needs a scale that connects to an app. We’ve gotten by since the invention of the scale with the non-connected versions just fine. Yes, the convenience is nice but therein lies the problem. If you are bringing a product that deals solely in convenience to market, you really need to make sure it doesn’t overshadow the most important aspect, convenience! We wasted nearly 45 mins trying to get it to work properly. Forty five minutes!

I don’t feel my view of the company has declined, but I doubt I’d ever rush out and buy any of their new products again. I’d still recommend Fitbit bands but I’d obviously steer clear of the scale.

Cable

Well, my love affair with Wave (formerly Astound) cable is over. We had a great run. I got five good years before it blew out in a spectacular failure. Even sadder, I had no choice but to go back to Comcast (for now). *sigh*

It started this past October with small artifacts in a few channels and ballooned into daily outages of both cable/internet. We’re up to taking bets on the time of day and duration of the daily outages now. We had the great fortune of having it go out during Superbowl half time, only to come back up in very limited quality afterwards. After repeated calls to tech support and the tech supervisor, over 20+ visits inside/outside our unit, I’m throwing in the towel.

And the kicker? I don’t want to leave! I wanted to stay with Wave. They were cheaper and provided more content for the price. I’ve gotten more than a handful of referral discounts as well. I’ve been the poster child of a loyal customer. Now, I’m forced to switch back to Comcast. I’m angry and incredibly disappointed to say the least. Comcast of course tried to tie me into a contract right off the bat. I wasn’t having any of that. Their rates are only slightly cheaper for the first year then balloon back up to the ridiculous price I’ve come to expect.1

My choices are basically a ‘used to be’ a great company w/no expectation of repair and a bad company that will milk every dollar out of me. I’m now seriously pursuing cutting the cord completely. I’ll still need internet but I’m exploring how to get rid of cable. Hulu Plus finally offers a subscription without commercials so I’ll try that until Time Warner kills it off.2 I’m also getting a digital antenna to go back to over the air broadcasts. I’m eye-sight from the broadcast tower so don’t expect too much of a problem getting reception. I’m not sure how my Tivo handles OTA broadcasts but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

By the time TW kills Hulu, I’ll have weaned myself off enough to be ok. I’ll buy a la cart for HBO, Google, & Amazon for the rest of the shows Iike to watch. I’m so over it I’m completely willing to do without in the long haul if I have to.

  1. A full $50 higher than my Wave rate []
  2. They are trying to buy a majority stake in Hulu and have made it clear they plan on gutting it. []