Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

(With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

After a long winter’s idleness, I decided that the time of exercise has finally come. To be honest, that time came several months ago. But what has come was a refund check sizeable enough to buy a bicycle.

As much as I prefer to do business with locally-owned shops, there is no way I could afford the prices at the local bike shops. This isn’t so much a reflection on their prices as my own penury. So after researching local prices, I decided to look at Walmart’s offerings.

I found The Perfect Bike on Walmart’s web site. It was a price I could afford, and so I chose the option of having it delivered to my local store, thus saving shipping costs.

The Nightmare Begins

I was notified the next morning that my order had arrived. Stacey kindly drove me to the store so I could pick it up.

I signed in to the system and was quickly approached by a clerk (what Walmart so magnanimously call a “Sales Associate”), who located my order and brought it out to me…still in the shipping carton…and then left. Didn’t offer to carry it out to my car, so Stacey and I managed to wrestle it into a grocery cart, haul it out to her SUV, and load it inside.

When we arrived back at my place and opened the carton, We discovered that the bike was only partially assembled. Examining the assembly manual, we discovered that we could have taken it to a Walmart cashier and had it assembled for free.

Because of Stacey’s schedule, it was a few days before we were able to take the bike back to the store to have it assembled.

Yeah, right.

We Don’t Service What We Sell

When I took the bike to customer service, we were told that they didn’t have anyone who could assemble it. Instead, they contract with an outside company to do that—and nobody knew whether it was once a week or once a month. They did, however, make an attempt to find out which it was.

Finally, after 20 minutes of waiting and discovering that no one in the store knew the schedule, I decided to return the bike and look at the ones they had in the store.

Partial Success!

I didn’t find anything I liked, but I did get a helmet, a lighting system, and a bike lock. Oh, yeah: Stacey fell in love with a bike. Unasked, I offered to buy it for her. After checking the tire pressure, Stacey inflated the tires to the recommended PSI (206 kilo pascals for you metric fans), I paid for the bike, and we were done for the day.

Or so I thought.

Stacey reminded me that there was another Walmart that we sometimes shopped at, so off we went to see what they had in stock.

There, in the bike section, was my Perfect Bike™!

my bike

So we located a sales associate who kindly offered to adjust the seat and handlebar heights, and to inflate the tires to the proper PSI. We paid for the bike, loaded it into Stacey’s SUV, and headed home.

Stacey dropped me off, and I was ready for My First Big Adventure! I even knew what that would be: I had a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days, and my bike could get me there in just a few minutes (it was only a half-mile ride).

Disaster!

Okay, it was my fault. I should have double-checked everything before my first ride. Turns out the handlebars hadn’t been tightened securely, so they kept rotating down to the point the bike was unrideable. In addition, the seat hadn’t been tightened properly, either.

So after trying for 3 blocks to ride the damn thing, I finally gave up and walked it the rest of the way to the doctor’s office.

After my appointment, I texted Stacey what had happened. She kindly came and picked me and the bike up and drove us home.

Mikey To The Rescue!

As the bike and I were sitting in the back yard, my friend Mikey came by for a visit. When I told him The Tale of the Purple Bike of Sumatra, he showed me exactly how to fix all my woes, and adjust the bike properly. Thank you, Mikey!

Epilogue

So now the bike is sitting—locked, of course—in the shed, awaiting my test ride (it’s too rainy today). I’m going to stick to riding up and down our street until I get readjusted to bike riding. After all, it’s been nearly 20 years!


Analog vs. Digital

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Rants
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Remember the analog world? Back when clocks had hands? When you had to have a modem in order to talk to another computer? You remember modems, right? A device that converted the digital signal your computer produced so it could be sent along analog telephone lines?

How about vinyl records? Do you remember how superior the sound was to CDs? That’s because the analog signal from the record was a continuous wave, while digital CDs are a series of discrete chunks of sound…no room for the in-betweens of a record.

What Brought This On?

Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, my connection to the Internet was via a landline. My connection was always reliable and strong. Right from my computer to the Internet.

Today my connection is wireless via a cable modem. Basically, that means my signals go from my computer to the wireless router, but from there, they compete with every other Internet user in my area.Think of it as a water main: when you’re the only customer in your neighborhood, your water pressure is excellent. But as more and more people move in and attach to the same water main, your pressure drops with each new customer.

And if the main breaks or gets clogged somewhere, the entire neighborhood is without water. And that’s the situation in my neighborhood right now. In more technical terms, the Internet is down.

Technology Isn’t Perfect

Nor are the people who create and implement new technologies. Want an example? We put a man on the moon in 1969—and then it took us another 20 years to figure out how to put wheels on suitcases. Houston was able to talk to Neil Armstrong and his crew, but I was lucky to telephone my grandmother in the Bronx from where I was living in Juneau, Alaska.

Success!

Well, it looks as if the ‘Net is back up just in time for me to finish this rant and post it. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Robyn Jane

Look at this man:

robertson 2

If Jesus truly heals the sick, why does Pat Robertson always look as if he has a terminal case of constipation? Might it have something to do with all the bullshit he peddles on TV?

Here’s another:

robertson 1

For a guy who supposedly preaches the Gospel of Christ, he sure spreads a lot of hate and intolerance. But he’s not the only one.

selling gospel

Am I the only one who has a problem with people getting rich off the teachings of Christ?

Osteen

I was raised in a Christian household. My father was a Lutheran pastor. I seem to remember reading something about a camel and the eye of a needle. Or was I only imagining it?

osteen-camel

Nope, I didn’t imagine it.

Hypocrisy, intolerance, hatred, and the love of material wealth

That’s what all these “preachers” have in common: that’s what they spout as the gospel of Christ in order to become rich and famous. The very thing Christ warned against. How do they justify it? And why do millions of ignorant people continue to support them? All you have to do is read your fucking Bible:

false teachers

This, Then, is Why I No Longer Believe

If a just God as depicted in the Bible, or a loving Christ, all of these false prophets—these liars, hucksters, and con-men—would have been swept away long ago. And please—don’t tell me they’ll receive their punishment in the next world. A truly loving god wouldn’t allow these thieves to prey on the innocent in this world.

Hello, friends. Yes, it’s been a while. Between health issues, the collapse of my marriage, and Internet problems, I haven’t been up to writing.

But I’ve had a lot of time to think. And a lot of that thinking had a lot to do with life, death, and what really matters to me. February marked the first year since my father died, and it struck me, now that both of my parents are dead, that no one here gets out alive.

I first heard that phrase on a Doors album. The album was Waiting for the Sun, and the song was “Five to One.” Little did I understand at the time just how profound that statement is. No one here gets out alive. Or, as Paul Simon put it,

We’re working our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway
When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away.

Maybe it’s the times we’re living in, or maybe it’s just my age, but I don’t think we’re focusing on the things that matter. We have our computers, and they’re connected to the Internet. We have instant access to more information than can be found in all of the libraries in the world, and what do we do with it? We post pictures of kittens on Facebook, or take pictures of our breakfast and beam them all around the world.

futuremen

Really? We have the ability to end world hunger, end all wars, eliminate poverty, and all we seem to be interested in is fluff. Bread and circuses, man. That’s what the Roman Empire offered its citizens to distract them from the fact that the Empire was crumbling from within.

And that’s what’s happening to the America Empire. It’s crumbling from within. Well, when you elect a clown, you’ve got to expect a circus.

Leonard Cohen sang, “Democracy is coming to the USA.” He was fortunate to die before the reality set in: Fascism is coming to the USA.

Absolutely nothing, unless you consider the myriad ways an operating system can aggravate your depression.

Which is exactly what my “upgrade” to Windows 10 did to my depression.

It began when I received a notice telling me that my upgrade was downloading in the background, and that I would receive another notice when it was ready to install. 4 days later, I said “screw it” and looked for another way. Fortunately, there is an alternative: bypass the regular download process and select the rapid deployment option. This will download a utility to your computer which will allow you to (a) download Windows 10 in under 20 minutes, and (b) then let you install it and/or burn an ISO image to disk.

Which is what I did, with mixed results.

There Is No Such Thing as Privacy in Windows 10

Fuhgeddaboudit. Microsoft wants full and complete access to all of your files, at any time, without telling you what they want to do with the information. The way to avoid this is to skip the basic installation and instead select Custom Installation. This allows you to opt out of all of the snooping secret sharing Microsoft wants you to allow.

It also lets you choose NOT to allow them to use YOUR computer and YOUR bandwith to install programs and updates on other peoples’ computers, even ones that are not on your network. “Trust us,” Microsoft says, and I do not trust them.

Other Problems I Encountered

The upgrade wiped out quite a few of my system settings, as well as several login accounts. I had to go back and manually re-enter my username and passwords, for example, for my Outlook account.

Despite what Microsoft claims, Windows 10 is much slower on my vintage HP Pavilion G laptop. A reboot takes almost 10 minutes, and even logging off takes 3 minutes. Logging back in to my account takes a good 5 minutes, too.

But what really burned me is that when I had decided I didn’t want Windows 10 anymore, and selected the option to restore my previous version (Windows 7), I discovered that the “upgrade” had deleted my previously-backed up copy of my installation. So now, the only way to do it is to back up my data files and reinstall from the original distribution DVDs. This, of course, will then require me to download all of the security and systems updates for the past 7 years, when I first bought my machine.

In Conclusion

So here I am, stuck with an “upgraded” operating system that in many ways has degraded the performance of my computer, with no easy way to revert to the older system. Congratulations, Microsoft: after years of competing with them, you have finally adopted Apple’s “Ve know vat is best for you. You vill do it our vay” model of fascist programming.

My next computer will run linux.