Archive for the ‘Current affairs’ Category

May 8, 2016

The Attack of the Evil Star Wars Kite!

The Chihuahua is a bit over a year old, now. Her pups are coming up on seven months old.  Today, May 8, 2016, was their Day of Awakening!

When they dashed out the door to help the Lab defend our territory, they got only two steps into the breezeway before realizing that a dark, looming monster was hovering just outside the door!  It shivered in the breeze, spreading its bat-like wings and then flying into a looping frenzy, stalking these three stalwart defenders of the status-quo!

Immediately retreating to the inner Sanctum (the dining room) to regroup their number and re-plan the attack, these bold warriors began to notice things:  looking up, they found threatening creatures (ceiling fans) hovering INSIDE THE HOUSE!  –A wall calendar sneakily waved a page at them, from where it hung on the wall, pretending to belong!

The wind swept the attacking kite away before I got a picture of it for this post, and the other items have grown a bit more ordinary since their ring-leader departed.  But this, I understand, is Dog Bite Awareness Month, dealing with a subject almost as scary to me as an evil, attacking Star Wars kite is to them:  This is courtesy of my good friends at Tru-Dog.com;

Dog-bite-prevention

Source: TruDog.com

 

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The First Battle With TerraCom

June 15, 2015

Posted on FaceBook, May 10,2015, at 8:16am·

I called technical support yesterday, to report a loss of service on my land line. In a very thick accent, the tech asked my problem.
Me: I can see my phone line from my kitchen window. It is on the ground, with a big tree on top of it.
Tech: I am sorry to hear that. How many jacks do you have in your house?
Me: (Had to ask three times before I got the question) Two.
Tech: And, do you have corded or cordless phones?
Me: Both. What difference does that make?
Tech: And, have you checked to see if all of them have no dial tone?
Me: Yes. They are all dead. I have no dial tone, anywhere.
Tech: Can you take the phone with the cord out to the gray box outside, and check for a dial tone, there?
Me: There is no reason to take the phone outside. The line is on the ground, the box is not connected to anything.
Tech: You understand that if we send a technician to your house, and there is no problem in our line, we will have to charge you $75 for the service call?
Me: (slowly) Listen carefully. From my kitchen window, I can see the phone line. It is laying on the ground, under a large tree. It is not connected to anything. If it has a dial tone, I will pay you the $75!
Tech: And, are you calling from this number?
Me: I have a cell phone that will be out of minutes before you get my land line working again. I’m calling on that.
Tech: And, is that the number I see on my board?
Me: (strangling noises)
Tech: I am sorry to hear that. If you could just check the gray box outside, to be sure there is no dial tone… …
Me: If I go out there, I will get stuck in the mud! –I can see the line from my kitchen window. It is on the ground! It is connected to nothing! It has a large tree on top of it!
Tech: I am sorry to hear that.
End narration. I will be without a phone all weekend, and if I made a false call about my phone service I will have to pay $75 for the service call Monday. –Feels like I had to walk to India to report the stupid thing… …
Happy Mother’s Day, All! Thanks, Barbara Clendennen, for the flowers!

Posted on FB, May 14, 2015, at 9:48am ·

Well, I finally have phone service again. Not without some drama, I fear, and a deep urge to go hunting for alternate service providers. Sure glad I’m on the way out of this mess, God help my grandkids!

Letter enclosed with monthly payment to TerraCom, with re-qualification form and proof of claims:

Myrna K. Throckmorton
June 9, 2015

TerraCom

Administrator,

I have been disabled for at least five years, and retired since April, 2012. I own a Tracfone, which I use for long distance and emergencies only. At five cents per minute, the cost makes it prohibitively expensive to use otherwise. A pair of irresponsible individuals occupied my spare room when I retired, and both had subsidized cell phones.

Over the following year, my advancing age and deteriorating health made it necessary for me to seek assistance. The presence of the two non-producers denied me access to most of what I needed (they already had food stamps and cell phones, for example.)

Although they had not used the room for anything other than storage for some time, they were still technically occupants, so I began eviction proceedings against them in April 2013. I finally reclaimed the space, in May 2013. See accompanying documents.

AT&T ignored my applications for a subsidized home phone service, so I eventually applied with TerraCom and was accepted. My Lifeline was installed soon after, and so I was more secure in my ability to get help in an emergency.

In January 2014, my bill reflected a loss of the subsidy, meaning that I was paying the full price for basic, no-long-distance service. I was not notified of the need to ‘re-qualify.’ It took several months to get that corrected. In May 2014, a storm interrupted my service to the land line. I duly checked the gray box outside for a dial tone, and when I called for service (on the Tracfone), was repeatedly urged to 1) check the gray box outside; 2) sign up for a cellular plan, instead; and, 3) re-qualify for the subsidy. I had to replenish the minutes on my Tracfone, twice, before finally relenting and ‘re-qualifying’, at the cost of five cents per minute, in order to get my service restored.

In September or October of 2014, I re-qualified again. I’m not sure whether it was another call for service or not, but it was about that time frame. Only a few days passed and I received yet another request to re-qualify, each time completing the interview only to be returned to the beginning, or re-contacted with the demand for further compliance, and an insinuation that the information I was giving was somehow fraudulent or at least in error. I demanded a paper form, which I completed with documentation and returned with my November bill. I assume that was the occasion that set the ‘re-qualification’ deadline for November 3.

Some time after midnight, Saturday, May 9, 2015, the severe weather in Oklahoma brought a dead tree down on the service line for my home telephone. My disability has advanced to the point where I can no longer exit my home easily and would be in danger doing so. From my kitchen window, I could clearly see the feed line coiled on the ground, unattached and lying under the dead tree. I had just purchased minutes for my Tracfone, of which I used half, reassuring the technician who answered that, 1) if he sent a repair man to my house and that man found a dial tone in the gray box connected to the downed ( and disconnected ) feed line, I would indeed be happy to pay the $75 fee; 2) a cellular plan would not provide the security I needed for my emergency Lifeline; and, 3) No, I was not willing to use up my remaining minutes on my Tracfone, re-qualifying in order to meet the November 3 deadline on May 9! When I was told to expect a repairman on Monday, May 11, 2015, I hung up.

To be brutally honest, I realize I might have had better luck communicating with your tech, if I knew how to speak Hindi. My bad. Always meant to learn but never got around to it. So sorry.

I was home all day Monday, the dogs were confined all day Monday, I remained without a land line. All. Day. Monday.

I had medical appointments scheduled on Tuesday, but the dogs remained confined all day, the gate was unlocked and I was home by early afternoon. I still had no service Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, June 13, I demanded to speak to a supervisor on the TerraCom customer service line. I’m sure his Hindi was perfectly adequate also, but after I had assured him that I 1) would pay the $75 if the gray box was found to have a dial tone; 2) did not want or need cellular service, since the land line was necessary for my emergency help button; and 3) did not have sufficient minutes left on my Tracfone to re-qualify with TerraCom before the looming, urgent deadline of November 3! At some point, he did discover that I had reported the outage on Monday, but some time through the third pass through the script, my Tracfone went dead and I still had not been given a repair date.

I am making this narrative as tedious and relentlessly frustrating as I experienced it, deliberately. As much as I hate dealing with AT&T, it would almost be worth paying their inflated prices and having to maintain a constant vigilance against their underhanded and fraudulent business practices, simply to be able to go to their web site and report a problem, without having to learn Hindi! –And, yes, I know I could do that with TerraCom’s cellular plan, but IT WOULD NOT SUPPORT MY LIFELINE!

By the time my Tracfone went dead on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, it was past 10:30 am and I had used 240+ minutes since the tree took down my land line. The one promise of repair on Monday had not materialized. . My home health worker arrived and offered me the use of her phone. I called my case worker for the Advantage Program and solicited her help. They refused to even speak with her. I asked her to at least tell everyone who would listen, what was happening to me. On second thought, she needn’t bother, I own a blog and can link it to Facebook. This should make quite an interesting post.

I tried, one last time, on my worker’s phone. I assured the next ‘supervisor’ that 1) although I had not ventured out into the mud, I was pretty sure the gray box did not, indeed, have a dial tone: 2) I did not need cellular service, I needed wired service, for my emergency life alert button; and, 3) when I was offered the chance to re-qualify, I was on the brink of losing control. But I was nice. I just didn’t say it in Hindi, I guess. But it would be so convenient, I was told, and it would save doing it later, and why would I not wish to have this out of the way?

I shouted, BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO!

And, since it was not my phone, I didn’t know how to hang it up. It was nearly noon, and my worker had another client to see. She offered to leave her phone with me but I was too strung out to use it anyway, and still didn’t know how to hang it up, so I sent her on her way and added more minutes to my Tracfone (through the web site!)

Less than an hour later, at 1:00 pm, the AT&T truck pulled up. They saw the line, now neatly coiled in the grass by the man who mowed the neighbor’s lawn. They went to the alley, where the line attaches to the pole, and at 1:15 pm, my phone rang. The land line. It was someone checking on me because I had not been answering.

Well, duh!

It would be impossible to guess how much, if any, the stress of this event contributed to the medical emergency that caused me to use my life alert button for the first time, on Friday, May 15, 2015. I spent the weekend in the hospital and face a long, painful recovery. Perhaps, if I had learned Hindi, or just submitted to the abusive demands of that loathsome script and jumped through their hoops like a good little citizen…

But, I did not. So, having saved the paper version of the re-qualification form, I shall print it up each month, correct it for changes occurring each month (if any), and print out all relevant proofs and documentations for enclosure with each bill. Next time I need repairs (and, I WILL, this is Oklahoma, after all), we’ll see what happens… …

In Pursuit of Power

January 20, 2013

 

POWER. Everybody wants it. We use words that have it, we put them together into phrases that have it, we jockey for it and vie for it and pander to it. It seems there is never enough of it. – Is there anything we would not do to get and keep it?

 

I could go on: everyone wants to be empowered, to feel powerful, to show his/her power. On the other hand, nobody likes someone on a power trip, making a power grab or power-play, or just plain power-hungry.

 

Power in the past rested in the hands of the favored few. Royalty and nobility was passed through generations by right of birth, and wars have been waged, nations and peoples decimated, genocides attempted and accomplished, and all manner of woes inflicted, endlessly, in pursuit of power. The struggle goes on, today.

 

The bright side is that power has been responsible for the greatest advancements in human affairs that the world has ever seen. In the last one hundred years, petroleum power, coal (steam) power, hydraulic power, electric and atomic power, have given rise to human inventions and technology men only dreamed about a century ago.

 

And like power over nations and peoples, the energy to power our machines and gadgets is worth whatever must be done to obtain it: we bore into the earth for crude oil, transport it by truck, rail, or pipeline to our factories where we break it down, “refine it” and then spew the waste (the part that is difficult to harvest as fuel) into the air or burn it into other wastes before we do. We will strip mine coal that is never pure, to burn for the heat it produces, again belching the waste into the atmosphere as noxious smoke and leaving the earth torn and ravaged; we search for underground gases that when released to our service also seep into water supplies, damaging ecosystems and humans alike. For hydroelectric power we have built dams and created lakes out of rivers.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/epa-changed-course-oil-company-protested-082012084.html;_ylt=AmveX8E14CsKyLcN.JfNSLQS.MwF;_ylu=X3oDMTQ2bTdpNTV2BG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBTY2llbmNlU0YgRW5lcmd5U1NGBHBrZwM2Yjg2NzM2OC00NWE2LTM1OWMtOTI5MC0wZTE4ZGU2YWVkYWUEcG9zAzEEc2VjA3RvcF9zdG9yeQR2ZXIDNWY2NjY5OTAtNWZiNi0xMWUyLWJlZmUtMzE1ZDMwNTQ3ZGFk;_ylg=X3oDMTFzMnBqYnA4BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANzY2llbmNlfGVuZXJneQRwdANzZWN0aW9ucw–;_ylv=3

 

Pipelines, high tension wires, great steel towers and cement block way stations dot the landscape, silent (well, not quite, if you count the hum of the wires and the gurgling in the pipes), testament to the power of mankind in his hunger for same.

 

We can speak into the telephone or type on our computer, and almost instantly a person on the opposite side of the globe can hear our voice or read our words. That is power!

 

Instead of living in tents, caves, and soddies, we can now build homes and businesses from the other bounties of our world: we quarry sand, gypsum, lime, copper, iron, zinc, graphite – on through the periodic table, to expand our arsenal of building materials. But unlike our ancestors, who were content to quarry indigenous stone, we rip and claw like the predators we are, taking out Earth’s power.

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We destroy centuries-old forests for the wood to build our homes and make our paper products, and pay no heed to the other creatures living there. Travel a road in the mountains of the great Northwest. You can see acres and acres of new growth forests that have been planted in the wake of deforestation. What you do not see is the other side of the mountain, where there is no public road, so no one bothers to replant the devastation. The erosion and desolation spread out for miles. But the timber could be turned into power, and no one needs to know.

 

http://www.upworthy.com/remind-me-again-why-america-made-the-best-way-to-build-a-house-illegal?c=ufb1

 

 

We are so powerful, we can even control the weather! – At least inside our buildings, we can. Our air conditioners collect the heat inside and ingeniously carry it outside, to be released into the air with all the other things we do not want. Our factories, machines of transport, smelters and processing plants belch tons of toxic waste into the air of the planet until its power to cope has been reached, overcome, and exceeded. But, there have been no consequences this long, so why should we worry now, at this late date?

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Why, indeed? Our industry as it exists is well-established. Not everyone is getting rich and powerful from it, but the ones who are, are getting very much so: they control the resources, they have too much to lose if anything changes: where they going to invest? – Exactly: they are going to invest in maintaining the status quo.

 

So, what is to be done? Is it even possible to turn things around?

 

I do not know. It may already be too late. But I, for one, would rather go out trying, than to ignore the facts and idly watch it go on.

 

The technology to prevent – and now I hope, reverse – all of this – has existed for many years.

 

If the atmosphere is Terra’s skin, the ground is her muscle: heat pump technology transfers the heat from our climate control systems into the earth rather than the air, and then can release it back to us when we need it in the winter. Muscle is more sturdy than skin and more resilient; we have tried use it to dispose of some of our other wastes, but the ground stores and maintains most of our water supply, and if humans have needs, air and water fall high in the queue. Even plundering the earth for her power has backfired grievously upon us.

 

One of the reasons solar power has not proliferated is price: a simple, single family dwelling can cost as much as ten thousand dollars or more to become self-sufficient on solar. At one hundred dollars per month average for electricity it could take as long as a decade to recoup the investment. By then, some repairs or maintenance will be necessary, and those are likely to be expensive also.

 

Not much help, there…

 Image

 

One of my favorites, wind power, provides benefits solar does not. It is not often that the air is dead calm, day or night; together, the two might accomplish the task; both require banks of batteries and inverters to transform the direct current of the collectors and batteries into the safer and more common alternating current of the existing grids.

 

To my grief, I just read an article in the Daily Mail, detailing how the magnets required for commercial wind farms is ruining an area of China. It is unacceptable to destroy any ecosphere for the sake of another ecology. Until cleaner refining processes are found

for these ores, it appears wind is at a disadvantage.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

 

But then, is it really? I cannot tell from the article whether this was concerning all magnets, or just the ones necessary for commercial generators. What dictates that we must be dependent on a grid, anyway? I am advocating independence from the grid for the majority of citizens, with a primarily solar power collection system that could be integrated into existing roofs without using space that could otherwise be farmed or saved for wildlife. Augmented with a small backyard windmill or two, each household could be entirely self-sufficient electrically.

 

But until the price comes down, it seems unrealistic for now.

Image

 

There are still things we can do. An ‘energy audit’ of a home is never a bad idea. Even new homes need to be given check ups, like every other product. The best thing about saving energy in the first place is that it need not be done all at once. Some power losses can be stemmed more economically than others; the savings from tackling those could be channeled into other repairs. With the improved technologies in sealants, insulation, and construction materials, the demand on solar and wind collectors will be decreased, making independence more affordable.

 

As for transportation: that technology has been around for ages also. Again, it did not serve the status quo and so got buried – hidden away in corporate vaults and the dusty archives of the Bureau of Copyrights and Patents.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03wwln-essay-t.html?_r=2&

 

There is no reason to scrap all existing automobiles in favor of the new hybrids and electrics. A whole industry could grow up around conversions, which could include hybrids that ran exclusively on biofuel and solar collectors incorporated into the vehicle’s skin. The plug-in option for emergencies would be a bonus.

 

Of course, none of this is or would be as simple as it sounds here. Each step in the process offers opportunities for graft and other abuses. Systems and people do not change overnight. This may be a subject for further discussion later in this series. For now, though, change we must, or it will all be moot: Nature will take her course, whether we are with her – or against her…

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