Sunday, July 31, 2022

Technology: Love It or Hate It


 There is a cool FREE app I have on my iPhone that I don't use as much as I could. 

It's called "Radio Garden" and it can tune into radio stations all over the globe. My personal favorites are, of course, Bossa Nova and Samba from Brazil and Smooth Jazz from anywhere, and Italian radio. I've listened to several other genres and stations here and there around the world.

It really is pretty remarkable technology. 

If you are not connected to internet you will use phone service data of course but I cannot find any definitive info about the exact amount of data streaming Radio Garden will use. 

The best estimate I've found is just under 1MB per minute or 60MB per hour. (To be honest, I don't really know what that means, but I guess it's not too much unless you are listening for hours a day). If you are connected to the internet you don't have to worry about using your phone's data plan.

Install and open the app and spin the globe to a location you're interested in and let the app tune into a station. You can spin the globe at any time to try another station and you can save stations you like in order to return to them easily.

It's pretty cool, I'd say.


I don't know what Google or Apple or Blogger has done but the look of Blogs on my iPhone has changed.  It was very annoying and frustrating as I find almost any change these tech companies throw out unannounced to be crazy-making and I think purposely done to make some of us feel stupid. 

Frustrations continued until I discovered the toggle switches which were new or which I had never noticed before - because I had no need to.

There is now an option for "Reader" which not only changes the appearance of the website but also seems to prevent viewing comments or making comments on certain blogs using Disqus. (Such as Joe.My.God news blog which highlights news articles especially those that pertain to political and LGBTQ news). 

You can turn the "Reader" on or off - (and for some reason "on" seemed to be the  new default setting) but I think "off" is preferable as it returns things to familiar format.


Again on the iPhone - I cannot comment as "me" on blogs that I follow using my iPhone. It allows me to comment as "anonymous" and prompts me to sign into my account. Even when I am signed in I get the same thing. This is true even when I try to reply to a comment a reader has made on my own blog! I cannot add a comment on my own blog using my identity/profile - only as "anonymous".

And I clicked on "Learn more" just for fun

I "checked my browser configurations" (as best as I could figure out), I have gone into settings on the iPhone and on Google but can't seem to find a way around this. So frustrating! Especially as I used to be able to post comments as "me" using the iPhone. Why has this changed?

I just don't get how or why things change for no apparent reason. Why do they have to fix what ain't broke?

Just an aside from a meme I read recently regarding comments on blogs: Do you get the irony in the fact that a computer is asking humans to prove they're not robots?


The screen shot is visible - in reality it's actually so dark it looks black depending on the ambient lighting

Again with iPhone. I am not a patient person. Occasionally I inadvertently swipe the screen and a different screen will pop up. The other day I did that and the control screen popped up. I got impatient and went to swipe it down and instead swiped down the brightness. Given the ambient outdoor light the entire screen appeared black and I could not see anything. "Take a breath, Frankie," OK, I realized what I had done and had to go into contortions to see the very faint image of the control screen so I could swipe the brightness up. I swear they make these things purposely to drive us mad. 

OK, maybe it's just me. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

When I Was 17 I Worked in a Grocery Store

 And I have been shopping in grocery stores ever since and have a critical eye. So yesterday my trip to Smith's (Kroger's) was an absolute nightmare. I only had a few things on my list...and found even fewer. The "everything" bagels were sold out and what was left were plain, blueberry and chili cheese. Yuk,yuk,yuk. There was no regular plain black tea bags, they were out of fig cookies and most other varieties, there were no decent greens (I can never find escarole anymore) in the produce department, and I was having sticker shock in every isle. It was like they were pricing things by picking random numbers. Picked up a few other necessities...When I went to get our standby frozen yogurt (half the calories of ice cream so you can eat twice as much) the entire ice cream section had been wiped out due to a freezer malfunction, there was melted ice cream and mostly empty shelves. There were two check-outs open with lines of people waiting and I went to self check-out where everyone was having issues and the clerk was frantically trying to fix their problems and of course my check-out machine also froze just before I was done and I had to wait my turn to get the over-ride from the clerk. 

Maybe if they paid decent wages they could keep their employees.

Not to mention that I was already in a bad mood. But what else is new? (Charlie Brown said to Lucy (me) "You were born crabby, you're crabby now, and you will be crabby for the rest of your life.")

And the internet has been down for two days. This has been happening too often, 

And for no good reason I have not been able to see or post comments on blogs with my iPhone for the past week or so.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Lost Dog

 Well I feel just terrible.

Back when we were preparing to evacuate in case the wild fire made it as far as our town, we got all our necessities, canned food and valuables (ok, valuable) together and transferred most everything into the camper. The plan was to take the camper and truck to a friends house in Santa Fe where he has plenty of room to park.

Other belongings were stacked in a bin by the front door for weeks, including important papers, check book, credit cards, extra meds, and room for any last minute items and perishable food, etc.

We definitely had Benni's ashes among the items we either packed into the camper or the bin by the door. 

So of late we are planning a trip to the East Coast and want to bring Benni's ashes to bury next to Bruno in Connecticut. So I went to find Benni's ashes. Benni was a very large dog and the container with his ashes is a large cylinder about 10 inches tall and 3 to 4 inches across. It is quite heavy also.

Well, I looked and looked throughout the house with no luck. I figured it was in the camper which was in the shop for a new water heater. 

The camper is back home now and Leon and I searched it thoroughly. Every drawer, cabinet, cubby, compartment and under the bed. Nothing. 

We searched the truck, the car, the garage, the house again. Every container, bin, storage area. Nothing.

Poor Benni is LOST!

I hope you find me...
Grandma always said "You don't know a nothin' yet. Even aft'a you dead, you don't know a nothin' yet." So, Benni, did you know that you could get lost after you were dead?

So this is one of those times, even if one is skeptical or a non-believer, one prays to Saint Anthony*. It can't hurt.

"The “Unfailing Prayer to St Anthony” is a prayer requesting the assistance of Saint Anthony of Padua in finding lost items. It is one of today’s most popular prayers, and has been used by Catholics around the world for centuries. It is typically used to find lost items, such as keys or other small objects
(we're asking big) that have been misplaced."

"Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me…

[Mention your request here]. Amen."

* You can take the Italian out of the church but you can't take all of the Catholic out of the Italian.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Non Parlo Bene l'Italiano Ma Lo Capisco Abbastanza Bene (e ho sempre avuto una passione per il portoghese)

I have been fascinated by languages, especially the romance languages but never really learned much more than rudimentary Italian, a little French, and a smattering of Spanish. Portuguese, while beautiful, is Greek to me. I have wanted to become more proficient in Italian, but my only source is the internet.

So I have been watching lots of YouTube videos in Italian. Some channels are specifically for learning the language. There are groups of YouTube Channels with different instructors using the same teaching methods for different languages. 

What has surprised me recently is that I am actually beginning to understand the language at least in part, without English subtitles or trying to do translation in my head. Of course I don't understand every word but if I select Italian subtitles I can see the words and it all makes sense. Even without the Italian subtitles I now get more than just "the gist" of a conversation or monologue. But the missing part is "speaking the language."

Today I was watching a very interesting young Italian language expert on "Podcast Italiano" with Davide.

But allow me to digress...the thing about the internet and YouTube in particular is that one can easily fall into a "rabbit hole" and come out in a place one had no intention of visiting. 

And so it happened that suddenly I was watching a video of a young, very cute Portuguese language instructor named Leo.

Leo also appears in more than one of Davide's Podcast Italiano and he speaks fluent Italian.

I have loved Portuguese, particularly Brazilian Portuguese, since being mesmerized by Bossa Nova music years ago. Portuguese is not an easy language. They seem to have no consistent use of either vowels or consonants. But I know I would learn Portuguese if Leo was my instructor.

I was in the rabbit hole for hours with Leo. Can you blame me? 

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Rio "Grande" Has Completely Dried Up in Albuquerque

 Apparently this has not happened in about 40 years.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

I Dream of Cape Cod - Something Without Politics



 A little too long, but...

Off Season:

Thanks Debra

Monday, July 18, 2022

I Become Less Optimistic Every Day

 Let me refer you all to this link:

Holy Bullies - Christofascism

 Tell me what you think.

 Here's what I think even without thinking to long and hard:

This is frightening. And what makes it that much more frightening is that the forces driving it are irrational, insidious and infiltrating and have already infiltrated our government at every level. 

The statements are contrived and the recitation made to appear "prayer-like" or based in religion. They are neither. The statements are political, reactionary and I would say subversive or even treasonous. 

This country (and we are not alone) is in danger of being taken over (not taken back) by fanatical "religious" cultists. It is already happening.

These people are like the individuals who've been appropriated by the Borg on Star Trek or like the goat-head weeds that germinate after a desert rain and grow like wild in days - They look quite non-threatening but their thorny seeds can puncture a bicycle tire or cause serious injury.

In some way it also reminds me of having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance back in grade school. I always felt uncomfortable, like we were all being brainwashed or controlled and mindlessly following some cult. 

 I also remember back in the 70s when the charismatic movement began to "infiltrate" the Catholic church and I guess it was called "pentecostal" in protestant churches. I thought that was scary. But I'm pretty sure this is the result. 

At this point in my life I have a great mistrust of ALL religions and have a "show me" by your behavior and actions what procedes from your beliefs.

How do we push back against such an irrational cult?

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Tips of the Icebergs

 I've been following the January 6th Select Committee hearings and I must say I am riveted to the TV during the 2 to 3 hour long sessions. My feeling are mixed. On the one hand I am reassured that the corrupt administration of trump and the Republican cult that used him to gain unprecedented power that continually disregarded the law in its day to day assaults on the people of the United States is being held up for the American people to finally see clearly. On the other hand, I am skeptical about whether anyone, least of all trump will be held accountable.

I hope so.

But trump and his ridiculous lies about the election being stolen and his narcissistic refusal to let it go is only the tip of one of the more obvious icebergs posing a mortal danger to this country.

I listened to parts of NPR this morning (I was in and out of the car doing errands) and found Terry Gross’ interview with New Yorker journalist Andrew Marantz eye opening. 

While it focused on Hungary, the connection between Hungary and the GOP/CPAC (Conservative Politcal Action Conference that was held in Hungary this year) is really frightening.

The take-away for me was, and I am putting it in my own words and how I interpret it, this: 

trump has become expendable even if he doesn’t think so, and he was a very convenient and pliable instrument for the republican party to advance their authoritarian agenda. The ultra right republican ideology was able to make advances with trump at the helm but the Republican party/cult now has such momentum that it no longer needs trump. It can bulldoze the government and easily set up an authoritarian regime. Republicans like Romney, Cheney and Kinzinger should be worried about the fact that their party has become an authoritarian cult and they and any old school republican will be irrelevant in the party's quest for power and complete control.

Warning: the republican party is a danger and a threat to democracy with or without trump. You can listen here.

In another interview did I hear Jason van Tatenhove (the former Oath Keeper who testified in the Jan 6th investigation) correctly? I thought he said that he identified as openly queer.

But he also detailed the growing threat of very un-regulated militias that are aligned with white supremacists and other far right ideologies. These people are sabotaging local governments, school boards, and councils and confronting citizens, and particularly LGBTQI+ events, with threats and intimidation.The tip of another iceberg. And I believe there are many more icebergs we haven't seen the tips of.


 I hope I am Chicken Little. I hope the sky (or should I say Democracy) is not in fact falling. Time will tell.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Another Chapter of "Life in the Land of Entrapment"

 We are in Grants, New Mexico for the holiday weekend. Staying in our camper at a KOA Campground. The reason for choosing this exciting destination is that Leon is on assignment as a Ranger (filling in for someone on vacation) at El Malpais (Badlands) National Monument (the BLM section, not the National Park section).

Bird on Lava

Spending time in Grants, New Mexico is about as exciting as waiting for a bus. (Especially as I had a gout flare up just as we arrived - something that happens once or twice a year at most for no apparent reason except for glucosamine chondroitin (2x) and large quantity of shrimp (once) or possibly dehydration). I ventured out yesterday to the Ranger Station and to see some rocks. The outcroppings are kind of spectacular, or maybe just photogenic. But as with most of the scenery, after you've seen 100 different rock outcroppings, it kind of loses its thrill.

The Arch - La Ventana

The Last Cholla Flower

And as to why 114,276 acres of lava would be declared a National Monument, the only reason I can think of is "What else can you do with 114,276 acres of 3,900 year old lava?" (some is actually 700,000 years old).

Mount Taylor

The landscape can be interesting, if monotonous at times. You can drive for hours with only a few changes in the terrain which is vast and intimidating. I cannot imagine the Spanish explorers (plunderers?) arriving at the edge of a lava field that where mountain goat wouldn't go and which stretched as far as one could see.

Lava Bubble

Vegetation in the Crevasses of Dry Mud
It is also "monsoon" season here in New Mexico. We have seen more rain in the past few weeks than in the past six years, and that is not saying much. It is especially dangerous for areas around the "burn scars" of forest destroyed by recent wild fires. 

In summary, if I have to vacation in an area that is covered in lava flows, I really think Hawaii would be my first choice.

Friday, July 1, 2022

The SCOTUS Pandora's Box

So, what happens when a US President is so obsessed with winning votes that said president will nominate incompetent judges put forward by an evangelical, rapture-believing religious cult to the Supreme Court? And when a cult-driven congress confirms these incompetent, cult-minded, ideology laden individuals?

They begin to make decisions that will destroy the fabric of this country, that's what. And they justify these decisions based on what was reality in 1787.

Beware of the fallout from the recent SCOTUS decision banning abortion. It's tentacles can have far-reaching effects and may be responsible for new state legislation and subsequent litigation for years to come. This article about Alabama is the tip of the iceberg. It wont be long before they come after same-sex marriage, LGBT anti-discrimination laws, and who knows what else based on the fact that such laws "are not deeply rooted in our history or traditions" 

From The Advocate:

"Alabama’s attorney general’s office filed a brief Monday that made similar arguments found in the SCOUTS decision, according to the Associated Press. Namely, the state argues that gender-affirming care isn’t “deeply rooted in our history or traditions,” which is directly taken from the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on abortion rights.

Because it is not “rooted” in U.S. history, Alabama claims it can ban the treatments. In the brief, the state also argues for a ban not only on gender-affirming care to youth, but to transgender adults as well.

“No one — adult or child — has a right to transitioning treatments that is deeply rooted in our Nation’s history and tradition. The State can thus regulate or prohibit those interventions for children, even if an adult wants the drugs for his child,” the brief states. “The Constitution reserves to the State—not courts or medical interest groups—the authority to determine that these sterilizing interventions are too dangerous for minors.”

The brief also states, “Just as the parental relationship does not unlock a Due Process right allowing parents to obtain medical marijuana or abortions for their children, neither does it unlock a right to transitioning treatments. The Constitution reserves to the state — not courts of medical interest groups — the authority to determine that these sterilizing interventions are too dangerous for minors.”

Let's make a list of federal laws that are NOT DEEPLY ROOTED IN OUR HISTORY OR TRADITIONS, overturn all of them and leave everything to the States. It will become a hodge-podge of laws and regulations, a veritable nightmare of navigation, a chaotic mess of a country. It will turn the US into the Dis-United States of America, the Fragmented States of America, the Backward States of America.

We have become a joke of a nation.      


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