Same.

I was recently reading a sci-fi story about the U.S.’s first adventure to an extraterrestrial planet. The expedition took a group of Americans to a nearby star, where they interacted with the native population in an effort to learn about them. The natives to the planet had an average estimated IQ of around 165. Life was much different than anything here on Earth. There was a uniformity amongst the population. Daily life was highly organized for everyone. All homes had the same design and floor plan. The civilization was successful because of the people’s dedication to productivity; everyone contributed to the well being of everyone else.

At the end of the story the Americans were shocked at what they perceived as a “lack of liberty” and were subsequently determined to teach this civilization how much better things are for Americans on Earth.

I couldn’t help but think of the Americans’ shortsightedness.

There’s a belief among many that the American way is the right way and any other way, regardless of how successful it is, is the wrong way. Happiness is measured in American societal ideals. We have other cultures right here on this planet that seem so very foreign, yet you can’t help but see happiness and fulfillment in their National Geographic captured images.

I’m reminded of an article I read years ago in a local paper of how a group of well intended folks wanted to liberate children from their Amish schools because they couldn’t possibly be happy without football and band practice and the PTA sanctioned practice of going door to door selling candy bars to pay for all this frivolity. Their happiness and contentment didn’t meet the measure of our standards of happiness and contentment, and therefore it must bad and/or wrong. It must be abuse.

But it’s not. It’s just a different way of doing things.

There is no doubt that our neighbors find happiness in ways that are unfamiliar to us. I have no right to tell them that whatever they’re happily doing in their home is wrong because I would find the same activity agonizingly tedious. So if we take that to the next step, why would I travel to another country or planet and judge the natives on their attainment of happiness?

I don’t know where I’m going with this rambling. Respect one another? Of course. Live and let live? Of course. Someday we’re going to be in the position of meeting beings from another world. It will be a glorious moment for mankind.

Let’s hope no one tries to tell them they need to soup up their spaceships with political stickers or something.

16 Years.

I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since I snapped this photo at a roadside hotel in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. I was on a solo trip, exploring the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I loved my old Mac PowerBook.

Looking back, things didn’t seem as complicated as they are today. Please were writing in blogs or LiveJournals. I think MySpace was on the scene but it was before the days of Facebook and Twitter. Folks had opinions, we as a society always have, but those opinions didn’t seem as loud.

Time marches on. Pendulums swing. We live.

Done.

My husband and I had our second shots of vaccination frivolity on Monday afternoon. Monday evening I went to bed at 7:00 PM and slept until 5:30 AM. Other than feeling tired and a slight sniffle for a couple of hours, I’ve been fine. He’s shown no symptoms.

The entire family will be fully vaccinated on May 19th. We will be going out for dinner in a restaurant with outdoor seating on that night. I am looking forward to the experience.

While I’m confident the microchips installed through the needle are running Linux, I have not experienced being able to see 5G signals, I haven’t lost my mind (any further), and my skin has not turned chartreuse. I’d probably continue to test high on any sort of spectrum tests, so I’m not concerned about that.

Just get vaccinated and do the right thing. Thank you.

Privacy.

Most people don’t want Facebook and other social media companies tracking their movements all over the Internet. We live in a very non-private world, but you can reclaim the tracking practices by these companies that make a lot of money from your data.

If you have an iPhone and/or iPad, you’re in luck. Apple released an update for these devices today. Go ahead and update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS/iPadOS. Then do the following

  1. Open “Settings”
  2. Tap on “Privacy”
  3. Tap on “Tracking”
  4. Switch “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to OFF

Done!

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On The Other Hand…

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how wonderful Siri and HomeKit was working out for our home automation projects.

It was all a lie.

Our HomePods are frequently telling us “no home hubs can be found” only to find a hub 10 minutes later. If I tell Apple Music to play a song on HomePod A and HomePod B for a few minutes, it’s going to do everything on both those HomePods until the end of time. Two days later I ask for ambient sounds for sleeping and they’re playing all over the house, even though they should only be playing in the bedroom. The only way to rectify this is to play a song on HomePod A and HomePod B and then stop playing on HomePod B. That’s fun at 3:00 AM after a few drinks.

My husband and I can watch devices randomly jump from room to room in real time on the Home app on our phones. They literally jump around every 10 minutes. Everybody is in the default room, nothing is in the default room, everyone take your places.

So, on the other hand, Alexa is starting to work much better for us. The application UI is awful, but the functionality is more reliable.

Recollections.

I have an ironclad memory. I’m known as the guy that remembers everything. I can tell you the bell schedule from high school (which I graduated from 35 years ago). I can tell you every home room number, every bus number, and I can give you SKU numbers from Ames Department Store, which closed in 2003. Magazines? 02730021. Greeting cards? 81230013. Candy bars? 67235515.

I can tell you very little about our drive a month ago from Chicago to Tucson.

It’s all about impact. The drive down made little impact. We drove through St. Louis. No big deal. It’s St. Louis. We drove through Kansas. It’s flat. It was our first time driving through the panhandle of Oklahoma. There’s nothing there. Our cat Truman settled down, we ate fast food, and bam, we’re living in Tucson, Arizona. We had very little interaction with the public, we didn’t see any friends between points A and B and I probably filled the tank on our 2016 Jeep Cherokee six times.

It was uneventful and for the first time in nearly 53 years, the ride did not make an impression on me. At all. I remember little about it.

I’m ready to make memories again. Our new home is a delight and we’re getting settled in, but I’m still not quite on my game. Things are not locking in as I would expect them to. Am I overwhelmed? I don’t think so. I’m missing my structured schedule. I’m still finding that structure. I like structure. It’s comfortable.

And when I’m comfortable, things make an impact. And that’s when the memories are written.

I need to find my comfort.

Summer Nights.

I’ve talked about this before and I shall do so again. One of my favorite memories, and feelings associated with the memory, is riding home from Grandma and Grandpa City’s house to our home “up north” via the back seat of my Dad’s 1971 Heavy Chevy. The four of us would be situated in our respective seats in the muscle car. The lights of Syracuse would fade behind us, the power lines running parallel to Interstate 81 would make a 90 degree turn to the west just south of Brewerton, and we’d cross over Oneida Lake and into Oswego County to make our trek home.

Dad would always have the radio on in the car. Always. In 1976 when we drove my great aunt home to Blackstone, Virginia after the annual family reunion, we listened to every Top 40 radio station from home to Blackstone in back. The radio was always on in the car and since it was an AM radio, we listened to 62 WHEN out of Syracuse. At the time 62 WHEN was known for their promotional vehicle, which was a Heavy Chevy. I figured we had to listen to WHEN because they had a Heavy Chevy and we had a Heavy Chevy. To my early elementary years mind, this made sense. I have always looked for patterns in life.

There are several songs I remember coming from the radio of the Heavy Chevy, but a few songs can actually take me back to one of those rides. I remember the summer time rides better than the winter time rides, probably because we didn’t make the trek as much in the winter. One of the songs that I can vividly remember hearing is “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” by the Friends of Distinction. The tempo changes, the groovy approach, and the moodiness of the track take me back to sitting in the back seat of the Heavy Chevy on Interstate 81. It’s a magical feeling. I have so many happy memories from my childhood. I have little to complain about. If this makes me boring, oh well.