More Distraction.

So Walmart has told its stores to take down any “signing and displays referencing violence”, including advertising for violent video games. However, they will continue to see guns as they do today. There’s no change there.

Wow, that will solve everything.

I am by no means anti-gun, but I am definitely anti-stupidity, and honestly, there is way too much stupidity going on in the United States. I’m surprised we’re not dumping Gatorade on crops to give them electrolytes.

Facts can not be debated. I know people like to watch news channels that reinforce their opinion and show people debating fact, but reinforced opinion is not the same as fact. It’s still opinion and while I’m at it, a repeated lie does not become a truth.

Other countries report video game revenue in proportion to the size of their population when compared to the United States. Would you like to take a guess as to what’s not in proportion? Mass shootings. Violent gun deaths. But by all means, let’s go after video games instead of doing anything, hell, I’ll take ONE thing, about regulating gun sales.

We are sending our loved ones to workplaces and schools and malls and concerts and festivals where they have to engage “Active Shooter Drills”. My old elementary school stood nearly 80 years without having bullet proof glass installed throughout the main entrance. It’s bad enough that we have an entire generation of Americans that has known nothing but a country at war.

Living in fear is not freedom. You can sing the National Anthem, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, demand everyone stand up in patriotic gestures, but singing and pledging and standing does not make freedom. Going shopping without worrying about getting shot by a maniac that bought a gun at Walmart, that’s a good start for freedom.

Truth.

Nevada Route 375 near Area 51. Not my photo, but I have a very similar photo in a photo album somewhere.

I’ve been reading bits and pieces of the latest social media movement, this time folks want to storm Area 51.

It seems to me this would be a great way to get shot.

Earl and I ventured right up to the Area 51 border back in the early 2000s. We were driving a rented Subaru. There was a dead cow in the road at “the mailbox”. We followed the dirt road until we saw signs proclaiming lethal force. There were technology-related devices on poles in the desert and in the distance we could see trucks or SUVs of some sort driving around. Logic dictated the lethal force would be administered through one of these things I just mentioned.

We decided not to risk it and we turned around and resumed our drive through the Nevada desert. Not too far away a military jet of some sort when whooshing over the road in front of us, just a few hundred feet above the ground. It was pretty awesome.

Area 51 is where the aliens and/or alien technology captured by the United States is kept. Ironically, since 2017 I’ve come to believe that Area 51 is more and more of a conspiracy theory since there’s no way the idiot in the White House could ever keep his mouth shut about such a thing. He’d be proclaiming we have only the greatest of aliens. The biggliest. And he’s smarter than them.

On the other hand, I can’t help but look up at the night sky and wish all the intelligent life out there would stop by and help us get our act together. That would be quite something, wouldn’t it? Sentient beings from another world coming to Earth and telling us some secrets of the Universe. Some thing the only reason these beings would come to our planet would be as a conquest and for destruction. I’m sorry, but if intelligent beings traveled vast distances to meet their neighbors, I’m pretty sure they would be evolved beyond the concept of war and destruction. I can’t help but feel in the very core of my being that all this death and destruction and chaos and craziness is an entirely human construct.

The arrival of such beings would really turn the world on its head. Imagine, your religious beliefs, nullified as quickly as Thanos snapping his fingers in an Avengers movie. How incredibly humbling would it be? I fully believe that we have been visited by those from another world on countless occasions, and they do it secretly because of compassion: if they revealed themselves there would be mass suicides across planet Earth because the human ego can’t handle the humility of it all. I’m reminded of a lyrics from an Abba tune, “I’m nothing special, in fact, I’m a bit of a bore”.

How glorious and yet how fully humbling that event would be.

Imagine if humans were to find out that we are all the products of a genetics-related science experiment! A little bit of our stuff was brought here from elsewhere, mixed with some stuff from a caveman type and voila, humans! How will countless cultures survive on one rock? What will happen when they mingle? How will they handle that?

I’m sure parts of the map are failing miserable at this. I’m looking at us, my fellow American.

I can’t help but think extraterrestrial travelers to Earth wouldn’t be bound by physics as we know it. Faster than light travel, artificial gravity; it’s almost like the visitors would have to travel “in between the seconds”, much like Jodie Foster’s experience in the late 1990s movie “Contact”. If it’s going to happen, I feel like that’s how it will happen. Those among us will step aside from traditional Earth believes, educate ourselves to a higher understanding, and evolve enough to find that missing piece in the equation.

And then we’ll be able to visit with those traveling between the seconds.

Until then, a bunch of hoo-haws are going storm Area 51. Go for it, folks.

Disconnect.

I am unlinking entry notifications from Twitter. I’ve been struggling with Twitter and their practices lately. I’m not a fan of the part time CEO Jack Dorsey, their monitoring and content control practices are arbitrary at best, and the platform has moved from a dumpster fire to a democracy destroying machine where the only goal is revenue. The old Topix forums were more sane than this travesty.

I encourage folks to follow via RSS or other aggregation services if so inclined.

Leaped.

So the longest day of this year is Friday, June 21. Regardless of what the clock says, we will have the most time between sunrise and sunset. I’ve griped plenty about Daylight Saving Time and my disdain for it, but this is the time of year when I really feel the effects of it.

I strive to get up early in the morning and get some exercise in before starting the workday. It’s remarkably easy for me to do this during standard time because I feel like my body is in sync with the planet’s “clock”, even though I know that time is really a human construct. Getting up at 6:00 a.m., when my body screams it’s 5:00 a.m., is a struggle for me. Going to be at 10:00 p.m., when my body screams it’s 9:00 p.m., is even harder for me. I end up taking a nap during my lunch break, which slows down my metabolism.

I finally gave in and slept until 7:00 a.m. and did my workout in the evening while Earl was at work. I’ll do the same tomorrow. Today was the most productive day I’ve had this month, and there wasn’t anything remarkable about my work day or my meeting calendar or my workload, other than the fact that I had shifted my exercise from morning to evening.

I know I’m not a morning person. I’ve never been a morning person. But Daylight Saving Time exacerbates that fact and I’m tired of trying to play the game. Mind you, I like it when it’s light outside in the evening, but I don’t like it light outside when I’m going to bed, especially when it doesn’t have to be.

With the insanity that has gripped this country Daylight Saving Time will probably defended as have been documented in the Bible before the end of This Age of Insanity comes to a close.

In the meanwhile, I’ll just do the best I can.

Briefly…

An observation at the movie theater tonight: if your husband has to repeatedly ask you to put your phone away, as you light up the row with an impossibly bright smartphone display, don’t start throwing a hissy fit as you stumble around trying to make an exit without flipping over the railing in front of you.

Our family was trying to enjoy “Rocketman”. We didn’t need the show in the row in front of us. There was to be one queen in the theatre and it was Sir Elton himself. We didn’t need a roadshow Drag Race dropout throwing a tantrum as he flings he Samsung all over creation.

Adulting.

Sold the Jeep today because it was starting to cost more than it was worth, especially living in the city. I’m kinda heartbroken about it. I feel like I’ve lost my favorite toy.

Placement.

If you own a vehicle and live in the City of Chicago you’re required to register your vehicle with the city. As proof of this registration, you’re required to put a registration sticker on the inside of your windshield on the passenger side of the vehicle. This sticker is identical in design as the DMV registration stickers we had back in New York; a laser printer prints the data on an exposed part of the sticker. You peel it off and put it on your windshield. Unlike New York stickers, these stickers stay in place quite well. Also like back in New York, the motorist is required to remove the old sticker and put the next year’s replacement sticker in its place.

A lot of folks in Chicago don’t do this. Instead the start a line of stickers up the windshield. I’d rarely see this in New York State, but it’s all over the place here in Chicago.

I don’t know if the practice warrants a ticket. I know that it drives me insane; it really trips off my OCD.

The sticker indicates where you’re allowed to park in the city, for example, if some streets have permit parking. I don’t know what the thought process is around keeping expired stickers on your windshield, but perhaps a $5 reminder ticket would help motorists follow the rule of sticker placement a little closer while increasing revenue for the city at the same time.

I know, it sounds petty, but with more and more drivers distracted on the roadway, the last thing they need is a row of stickers up the side of their windshield blocking their vision.

Cashless.

Gizmodo: Philadelphia Just Banned Most Cashless Stores, a First for a U.S. City

The city of Philadelphia just passed a ban on “cashless stores”. Retailers in the city must accept cash. Exceptions to this law include stores with a membership (i.e. Costco), parking areas, hotels and other venues which require a large deposit. While I don’t live in Philly, this law really rubs me the wrong way. NYC and NJ are looking at similar legislation.

  • We live in a free market society. If there’s a need for a store to accept cash, there’ll be a store that accepts cash. Let the market figure it out.
  • Handling cash increases labor and productivity costs for the retailer. How many stores have you seen lately that post signs “Does not accept bills larger than $20”? Balancing tills, monitoring employee theft, going to the bank, etc. costs extra money.
  • This law stifles innovation. Instead of just outright banning “cashless stores”, how about a requirement that retailers must have a “reverse ATM” out front? There’s a new market that could be farmed out to a third party. You can’t get on the L here in Chicago with cash, you have to buy a ticket or a Ventra card. Plus, what’s preventing anyone from buying a burner Visa card and putting cash on that?

Laws like this are part of the problem with our government, not the solution. Elected officials want to make shortsighted, grandstanding gestures to prove their worth. How about governing instead of grandstanding? /soapbox

Speculation.

Angela Ahrendts. Photo from The Verge, take by Nick Statt.

Apple announced this week that Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president, retail, would be leaving the company to pursue other personal and professional interests. She has been with the company and in the position for around five years.

I have been surprised by the number of people overjoyed with this announcement. Occasionally it has been Ms. Ahrendts enthusiasm and energy in the position that has kept me soldiering on through some of Apple’s rough spots over the past couple of years, and by “rough spots” I’m referring to security breaches and other particularly interesting bugs released to the wild.

As the leader of Apple’s retail ventures, Angela brought “Today At Apple” to their retail stores. Her vision of the Apple retail experience included transforming the Apple Store to “Town Squares”, where folks could hang out, learn about their Apple devices, chat with other Apple tech enthusiasts, and, if so inclined, buy something or get something fixed. The new Apple (I guess it’s no longer called Apple Store) on Michigan Avenue here in Chicago was a prime example of this. There’s lots of seating, I huge presentation area for “Today At Apple” seminars and, though I haven’t seen it in person, a conference area for business customers. I have occasionally seen folks out for a walk with Apple employees, taking photos along the Chicago River. Angela was very much a proponent of solidifying the human connection to Apple technology.

Many have been speculating as to why Angela is leaving the company. Is it because of the recent earnings announcement? Slowing iPhone sales? Is Tim Cook unhappy?

Honestly, even though Apple is a very public and publicly traded company, is it really our business as to why Angela is leaving? Apple retail has flourished for the past five years under her leadership. I often hear of folks complaining about wait times or stores being in disarray. Maybe I’ve been lucky to not have experienced this sort of thing. But truthfully I couldn’t care less as to why Angela is leaving. It’s really none of my business.

I’m sure there will be changes at Apple retail locations when Vice President of People Deirdre O’Brien takes over leadership for the division. I’m interested to see if the changes Angela made stay in place or if the locations go off in a new direction.

In the meanwhile, I wish Angela well in her new personal and professional endeavors.

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Data.

ABC News is reporting the Trump Administration is not sure if they separated thousands of more children from their families at the southern border. They’re not sure about this because they haven’t been keeping track. There’s little in the way of records of these separations.

Heartbreaking doesn’t even to begin to describe how I feel about this.

Even if you believe that it’s right for the United States to separate families trying to immigrate here, you have to admit that the United States Government should be responsible in keeping track of who belongs to whom. I can’t get my blood drawn in my doctor’s office without citing my birth date multiple times and confirming my identity, I can’t imagine why anyone in any position of authority wouldn’t implement some sort of tracking system for these children.

I mentioned on Twitter that I would write the web application needed to do this. Since the Trump Administration has claimed that the numbers aren’t that big, then it makes sense that the database to track these individuals wouldn’t need to be very large. I could write something in a weekend to accomplish this; I’m sure teams of government IT officials could write something better and faster in the same amount of time.

The process would be quite simple:

  1. A child must wear a wrist band, much like what we wear in the hospital, at all times. The wrist band has a unique identification number on it.
  2. All of the child’s data is stored in a simple database tracking their whereabouts. It could also be used to track food or medical allergies, medicinal needs, schedule information, and psychosocial notes on the child.
  3. The guardian’s information would be entered into the same database and tied to the child’s ID number. A photo of the guardian would be entered into the database as well.
  4. The guardian would be given an official certificate with the ID number on it. Without this certificate, the guardian would not have access to the child.
  5. To regain access after whatever bureaucratic red tape was cut through, the guardian would have to present the “completion report” and the certificate, with a photo match taking place as well, for the guardian to regain custody of their child.

It’s not hard. Not difficult at all. But the gross incompetence of Homeland Security and ICE has created a mess that really should be treated like a crime against humanity. What they’ve done is just inhumane.

No child should be separated from their guardian if the child is not in harm’s way. The United States should not be putting the guardian in harm’s way. I don’t care if they’re coming from Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, France, or Venus. What the U.S. is doing is wrong.

And with just a little bit of effort, it could be a little less wrong. But there’s no interest in that when you’re part of the puffed up chest party.

It is such a dark moment in the history of this once great nation. I really hope this nightmare ends soon.