Spring 2018 random notes

I ordered the book Homecoming by John Bradshaw tonight. I checked http://finderscheapers.com for prices, but pretty much ignored that website. It listed two used bookstore services I have accounts with, http://alibris.com and http://abebooks.com Alibris lost the sale because their checkout screen failed. Amazon, I avoid on principle.

I conjured up some one-time-use credit card numbers. They’re great for online purchases because they put a (lower) limit on the risk from bad people stealing my information from a vendor’s databases. It comes from Bank of America’s “ShopSafe” which is a service on their online banking site.

I got a long, relaxing nap this afternoon/evening. I woke up at 7:05 which was a little late for some events I wanted to go to that started at 7. I could have gone late, but I chose not to.

I really like my new sofa. The old one was tore up by my cats. I’d had it for years. I have been having trouble with back pain sitting on the old one so I needed to take action. Thanks mom!

I’ve got to the Y three days in a row which is a big accomplishment for me.

I made an appointment for Friday with the nurse with my cardiologist. I am concerned how badly winded I got moving the furniture with my dad. It shows that blood pressure might be an wishful explanation of my cardiac condition. I was upset the cardiologist had let my blood pressure be dangerously high for months while he said it was ok. I canceled my last appointment in March when I finally forced the issue. At that time, he told me my goal level was quite below those levels. Right now it is quite consistently a good number. It’s in the universally recommended range so I’m happier…. Also that I’m only taking one medication instead of the 2+ that I’d been taking until March.

There’s an famous-ish song Dragostea din tei that had a viral video that made it famous. Back when I first learned about the song, I found a musician Craig Anstey https://www.youtube.com/user/Canstey84 on youtube that had done a cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFonM543atg of it. I have a copy of his cover that I have for making a mix tape (BQM XVII). It’s not a literal translation of the lyrics, but its text is well known.

My last cousin is engaged. The wedding is Sept. 15. We’ll all be packing up and going to Louisiana for the festivities. Of the 15 in our generation I’ll be the only one not married and it is most likely going to stay that way. There’s also been only 2 divorces among us which is a point of pride for me — of the 6 pairs of married aunts and uncles, they have a combined 300+ years married.

On the most recent royal wedding in Great Britain I liked that the officiator of the wedding said “I proclaim them man and wife.” I don’t think “proclaim” is used much (at least it sounds more elevated than the language I remember from my family’s weddings.)

I was able to run the media for my church this week. I had someone behind me helping my confidence. There were a couple of places where he suggested I black the screen that I didn’t notice on my own. The social media feed was a little messy to turn off, but I remembered the right way to do that so it was not broken for long.

I guess I’ve typed enough….

A Mouse in the Mountains

A long time ago there was a small mouse who was all alone in the mountains. He could never find enough food and was always hungry. He longed for his home on the plains where he grew up. Mouse

Each day the mouse would search for something to eat. He would go from shrub to shrub hoping to find something to eat. Sometimes he would find a pine cone while other days he might be lucky and find a walnut or acorn. Wherever he went, it was never enough.

He was getting desperate and lonely. A wise crow watched him struggle in the brush and wanted to help. He called “Mouse, what do you need?” His voice was lost in the wind. He flew down closer and asked again. This time the mouse heard the question.

He replied, “Wise crow, I am all alone in this giant forest. I never have enough to eat. Every day I feel lost and alone.

The crow asked, “Are you far from home?”

The moue replied, “Yes I am far away from the fields of my childhood. I wish I could go home.”

The crow thought carefully. He said, “I am too old to take you there myself, but I know a young eagle what would enjoy the expedition.”

“But wise crow, won’t he eagle eat me and not take me home?”

The crow said, “The eagle’s family owes me greatly. They are an honorable people. He will do this for me if I ask.”

The mouse thought about how hungry he was. He was not sure, but after a while, he said, “Ok, let’s go!”

The crow flew away and soon an eagle came.

The mouse said, “Powerful eagle, I am so small. I am afraid of your sharp talons and giant beak.”

The eagle said “Dear mouse, do not fear. I am doing a favor for wise crow. I will get you home safely.”

The mouse and eagle lifted off into the sky and flew toward the plains.

Many hours later, the travelers arrived at the plain. The eagle said “See small mouse, I have kept my word. Be kind to the people you meet and remember my gift.”

Little mouse said “Thank you kind eagle. I am forever grateful.”

After a few weeks, the mouse found enough food. He wasn’t hungry any more. He remembered the mountain and was glad that life was so much easier now.

Later, the mouse met a tiny cricket. They became friends and were always together. The cricket had his own story of being rescued. Not too long before he met the mouse, a cardinal attacked the cricket. A cat in the field saw the bird and chased it away before the bird was able to eat the cricket.

The mouse said, “I am so grateful for these strangers. The eagle and the cat. Without their help we would have never met.”

As their friendship grew, the always looked for opportunities to be a kind stranger to the others on the plain.

Life was not always easy for the mouse and cricket, but the chances they found to help others kept them busy.

In the end, they took their difficult times and used them to make the world better. They felt that if that did not give to others what was given to them, they would become hard and cold.

Now that they have lived many seasons, they see how much they had to offer. They became a warm source of light for their neighbors. All of this joy was the result of one wise crow offering to help a helpless creature in the mountains. Now they are also wise and give to everyone they meet.

Original image: Mouse. By Diggler Photography [Image license]

The Unreasonable Virus

Recently, I was talking with a clinic’s office on the phone. I had trouble getting the information I needed. Until I stopped myself, I started thinking that they were trying to be intentionally difficult. It seemed that the person had set up arbitrary walls to keep me from talking to the right person.

I realized that my experience with past businesses that have unreasonable call centers led me to expect that all phone services want to avoid helping. I have called phone company A and they have many levels of menus that all lead to the same place: not talking to a human. If I do reach a human, they forward me through several offices who each provide minimal information. Credit card company W has many ways to get lost on their customer service number.

Rubber stamps on a carouselIn my recent experience, I’d been hit by the unreasonable thought-virus: The expectation that service businesses are unreasonable and provide as little service as they can. The virus goes to the level of expecting to be abused; that it is a normal way of doing business.

The thought is a virus because it can be spread. A service professional who’s had experience with unreasonable systems, will help propagate their own version of the same negative experiences.

Organizations that have good customer service help the virus go away, but it is a difficult thought to clear up.

Internet mega-services company G is really helpful. Every time I have a question, I get to someone knowledgeable right away. They help me with my questions and give some extra information for the likely next questions I’ll have soon.

I wish there were a lot more G’s and a lot fewer A’s and W’s.

Original image: Stamp Carousel . By Christian Schnettelker (see Webdesign Agency) [Image license]

Contribute to Wikipedia

Wikipedia has plenty of ways to contribute. The obvious one is to add content or edit pages. There are also many “WikiProjects” There’s something for everybody’s taste.Wikipedia sphere

Some of the projects cover different topic areas: Bacon, Batman and Birds

An assignment for a class last year sent me looking for a WikiProject. I found the Maintenance project Citation Cleanup and then I specialized into “Pages with broken reference names” It’s fairly esoteric and the list of things to do on the projects is unbounded. Knock down one page by fixing its citations and there’s ten more waiting for attention.

It’s interesting to learn the inner workings of Wikipedia. I don’t have to do anything more than read it, but by contributing I take a little bit of (mostly anonymous) ownership.

I learned that there are robots that go through the encyclopedia that identify likely vandalism. Others find citations that look similar for a person to make them consistent. There is a robot flotilla helping out. There are guidelines for making your own robot.

As I looked more and more into the inner workings of Wikipedia, it seems to be more of a community. I don’t have to worry about “breaking” it and I can, in my own small way, make a contribution.

Original image. By Wikipedia [Image license: CC BY-SA 3.0]