Upgrading Frustrations

I finally succumbed to an annoying message that kept appearing daily on my screen about the need to upgrade my machine. Stupidly, it is my first mistake if 2023. Clicking on the “Install now” button has yielded a mystery. First it asked for a password to get into iCloud. Immediately, another window asked for a password for my Apple ID. Since I had just revised these passwords two days ago, and wrote them down, I felt confident this task would finally go easy.

After entering the second password, a new window appeared asking for the pass-code from my iPhone. I typed it in, and now the screen has frozen with a spinning wheel. The only option it gives me is a “Forgot iPhone passcode?” I can only assume that the spinning wheel indicates that this beautiful pile of engineering wonderment is searching for something. The passcode is something that I use everyday each time I want to look at my phone since the darn thing times out after 2 nano-seconds of inactivity. The wheel has been spinning for thirty-five minutes now.

What do I do?

Let it spin in the hopes that eventually it will install the updates? Shut the machine down and start all over again? What is that definition of insanity? Repeating the same activity over and over again hoping to get a new outcome.

I feel the world is going to self destruct with all of these computers being loaded with passwords requiring passwords to access. Where is the AI (Artificial Intelligence) that is supposed to forego the need for human intervention? Yet, on a daily basis we hear company after company spewing the results they get using AI.

As I am writing this rant my iPhone just beeped a message stating the following:

HU2bSs information.

We have detected suspicious activity on your account and have locked it as a precaution. Click link below to unlock your account:

https://l.ead.me/approved . . . .

If you do not verify your account before 24 hours, your Paypal account will be terminated. Sincerely,

Paypal Team

Is this a coincidence or is it related to the problem I see happening on my desktop computer?

If it weren’t for all the friends I have made on this BLOG I would go into hiding and never again show myself on any computer related correspondence again. It will be the only secure way to keep my sanity and my safety. The world is teeming with corrupt individuals working tirelessly to pick my pockets and enrich themselves. The more passwords and safety systems put into place by the computer companies the bigger the challenge becomes for the hackers to break into computers.

I truly believe there is a design answer to this dilemma. Keeping unwanted entry into computers must be built into the machines. It is doable, but is it profitable? It seems that there will always be some small portal through which thieves can gain entry, and steal to their hearts content. In the meantime, we suffer at the hands of thugs who insist on making a living by stealing. Eventually, our computers will take on the appearance of the Pyramids of Egypt. It has taken thieves as long as two thousand years to find the portals to some of the burial vaults within. If they could create such a secure system over two thousand years ago, surely we can create a better one today in our computing machines.

It has been one hour since the spinning wheel began it’s journey, and it is time for me to hit the kill switch and restart this machine. At least I was able to write a story about it. As soon as I post this piece I will enjoy the kill.

All I Want For Christmas

is a nice easy to remember password that works for every site I visit, and for all the internet places I go to everyday. One would think this is an easy request, but it seems to be damn near impossible to achieve. Among the worst password requesters are Google, and Apple. Both companies demand using passwords, and that they be changed often. In the process they drive users nuts. Probably even worse than Apple is Norton password manager which requires it’s own password to enter before you can access your passwords.

Being memory challenged makes this particularly difficult to navigate. Just try reading the instructions offered by Google. They might as well be in Egyptian hieroglyphics as far as I am concerned. I am an Apple person, but if a simpler system becomes available I’ll dump everything Apple in favor of simplicity. I have an Apple user-id, but it seems that Apple can not recognize that id in any of it’s many discrete applications like iCloud, Apple Store, iTunes, iPhotos, iMovies, etc. Compound that with devices like iMac, iPad, iPhone, iWatch, and many more. I would think a simple droplet of blood applied to a device would solve the problem. I may go anemic or worse yet die because of a lack of blood, but it might be easier to use the devices.

Last week my internet service took a crap, and stopped working. In order to get it up and running I decided to reset the system by shutting everything down. I went too far, and shut off my iMac as well. That was a tragic error on my part. The most tragic was trying to re-enter my own computer after a shut down. It has been three years since the machine has been shut off, and that time gap caused me to forget the Apple id, and password for the machine. It took a full four hours of watching, and listening to Youtube videos made by two different guys from India who spoke a mile a minute with a strong Hindi accent, and tons of trial and error efforts using their recovery steps to finally get into this Mac which sits on my desk unused by anyone but myself. Success was finally achieved and unlike the woman who gives birth and forgets the pain immediately upon seeing her child my pain continues. Now, for whatever reason, in the great wisdom of Apple the Mac acts just like my iPhone. If it is unattended for a few seconds it requires, you guessed it, a password to enter again. I am positive that this useless feature can be turned off, but I may not live long enough to learn where the switch is. I will sleep easier now that I am protected from my wife getting into my computer when I’m away.

Man typing on the keyboard trying to log into his computer forgot password

In trying to understand why all this is necessary, I vision the workplace where every colleague takes over your keyboard when you turn your back, or go to the john. I would sooner booby trap that individual and spray him with indigo blue ink than have to reenter the password every time.

Throughout all this I keep hearing about how smart artificial intelligence has become, but in my opinion this problem is beyond the capabilities of AI. Maybe in another hundred years after electric cars rule the planet, and the air is thick with the smoke of hydrocarbon fueled electric power stations, AI will be smart enough to solve the password problem. However, there is no incentive for Apple, Google, Norton, and the others to solve it because they are making too much money selling updates to newer machines that need more passwords. Like I said above, I’ll reward the company who solves the pw problem permanently with my cash. In the meantime, I’ll keep asking Santa for a solution. His elves suffer from the same malady and may be able to make the miracle happen.

Gloom Versus Spasms

Today is a glorious sunny and cold December day, and we are making electricity. We just passed three days of gloom. How gloomy? Let me tell you how gloomy. Gloomy is when all of your light activated night lites turn on in the middle of the day. No joke that’s how dark it was. Then, to make my life more interesting I am living through the after effects of a minimally invasive procedure. Which involves a catheter and an unknown unheard of phenomenon called spasms. I’ve lived through some tough health problems in my lifetime but these spasms are the worst. I never know how to answer a medical person’s question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, where one is no pain, and ten is unbearable-excruciating pain, what level are you experiencing?” This time, my answer is that when a spasm occurs it is a bonafide 10. Thankfully, a spasm probably doesn’t last longer than 10-20 seconds, but it feels like a day. I think I have come close to child bearing pain. It is amazing that there are nine billion people in the world if the women have to bear that level of hardship.

If I had to choose between a month of gloomy days and three days of spasms, I’d choose the gloom. Over the last four score and four years I’ve experienced as many gloomy November and December days as God gave us, and I’m still here to talk about it. The only thing I will remember about these last three days are the spasms. The funny thing about my brain is that it likes to instantly remember the lousy things that happen, and push the happy, joyful things deeper into the abyss of memories. When I think about my two wives I never think about how we fell in love, or all the beautiful places we saw and the friends we made, I think about how much they suffered during their final years. Why is that? I have to consciously raise a memory of a particular trip or event to have happy thoughts, but gloomy, sad events immediately come to mind.

Happiness and sadness are very similar to positivity and negativity. We are programmed from birth to go negative automatically with our parents always telling us “no.” How many times did you hear something positive about your actions? The ratio is 100 negative to one positive. I was raised like that. As an adult I had to learn the benefits of positive thinking, and then train myself to become positive. At this age I feel I am very positive, but I often find myself reverting to the negative side of the situation. Just like these past days with the minimally invasive procedure, I should be thinking of all the easy times I will have during urination, but all I can focus on is bearing up to the “spasmodic TEN.”

My urologist has hinted that this healing process may take as long as three months. That is how long I have to continue the medication that did the job for the past ten years. I believe that if I did a payback analysis on this personal improvement it will come back with “not worth it.”

Minimally Invasive, Yeah

Today is the day I have been getting nervous about for the past six weeks. Most old guys like me have an enlarged prostate gland, and I have been taking medication to allow me to void. Back when I began taking the medication my Urologist told me that the medication is only good for about six or seven years and then the body no longer responds. That was at least ten years ago, and my time ran out. The options for improving the flow were not pretty. Along came a new procedure which I looked into and decided that if I ever have to do it this would be the one.

My instructions were to arrive 45 minutes early, which I did. Then I sat waiting for the entire 45 minutes before any activity occurred. In my mind I was rehearsing my termination speech for when I fire this doctor. They must have a whole semester of medical school dedicated for how to piss off a patient. One of the methods is making them wait for an appointment. This example is only out done by the pharmacy schools who teach young druggists how to staple drug information to the bag the drug is in, and then to staple the receipt on top of that. Not just once, but several times to make sure the drug container won’t fall out on the journey home.

Finally, five minutes before my formal appointment time a nurse called me in. Her job was to administer an anti-biotic drug in the butt before anything else began. “Are you allergic to anything,” she asked? (I had previously filled out a medical information questionnaire, and boldly listed that I was allergic to penicillin). Oh well, she was just being cautious I thought. “Just penicillin, the name of the drug you mention in the instructions ends in a ‘. . . cin’ are you certain that it is not in the penicillin family,” I asked? She smiled and left the room with the syringe in hand. She returned a few minutes later. “Now I am certain,” she said. I presented my buttock and she speared me with the needle. It is the first time that I got a shot that burned like fire, and kept burning for the next few minutes. “Go back to the waiting room, and I’ll call you when we are ready.”

I finally got called, and the following thirty minutes was spent breathing nitrous oxide to calm my nerves while the so called minimally invasive procedure took place. I’ll skip the details because it is too much information for a blog post. When it was over I looked at the urologist and asked him if I would get a discount for training the young assistant that shadowed the process. Then I turned to the nurse and accused her of not turning on the nitrous tank because I really didn’t feel calm at all. Then I turned to both of them and said, “who ever labeled this as a minimally invasive procedure is nuts.” I had an ultrasound wand up my butt and a tube the diameter of a nickel inserted through my urinary tract into the prostate. If that isn’t totally invasive, I’d like to know what is. Of course the term is a euphemism used to mean no cutting involved.

The kind nurse helped me get dressed and gave me instructions for how to take care of myself after I leave the office. “Be sure to make an appointment for tomorrow so we can remove the catheter,” she emphasized.

My grandson drove me home, and I spent the next hour on the throne with diarrhea.

The cell phone rang and I answered. “This is Doctor XYZ’s office calling to tell you that your appointment has been changed because we are not in the office tomorrow.” In my opinion, this doctor may know what he is doing medically, but he doesn’t have a clue about how to run a business. Why wouldn’t they know about a major change in office hours sooner? Like before I made an appointment.

All I can say is that it is over, and now the period of healing must take place, and I have to keep this MD on my payroll until I am healed whether I like him or not.

Why Rock the Boat?

One of the most amazing thing I have witnessed in my lifetime is the evolution of the automobile. I have memories galore about the difficulty my father went through to provide our family with transportation. I loved to listen to his stories about early adventures as a single man in a new country. One thing he did very early on was to buy automobiles the names of which have long disappeared, namely one he called a Hupmobile. His stories always entailed fixing problems on the side of the road with minimal tools and parts.
Summer Sunday afternoons was the best time to hear him describe the many adventures he had. Usually with a buddy who was also involved. Dad loosened up quite a bit when alcohol flowed freely through his system. Oh how he laughed when he told the story, especially when telling us how the Hupmobile threw a rod half way to the farm in Michigan and they wound up overhauling the engine on the sandy shoulder of the highway.

The car I remember from my early childhood was his 1929 Buick Century. Oh what a splendid tank it was. He owned that car from 1942 – 1952. One of his daunting tasks was to find tires and gasoline. World-War-Two put a damper on auto ownership, but Dad used his car as an part-time insurance salesman. I specifically remember him taking Mom shopping one evening, and she took the three os us with her. He dropped us off at a store, and continued on to his client meeting. When he returned we had a surprise waiting for us. The running board on the side of the car was gone, and the back door was dented. He had to hoist us up one at a time to get us in. He told us he was broadsided by a car that blew a red light. The other car had to be towed away, we drove home.

Dad’s string of cars after the ’29 were a 1939 Buick Special, followed by a 1938 Dodge, a 1954 Plymouth, a 1959 Ford, 1968 Ford, and last a1982 Chevy. all were used cars except for the last three. Each one had it’s share of problems which he continued to fix. His favorite phrase was “Ford, Fix Or Repair Daily.” Just about all of his cars were sold or traded when they reached fifty thousand miles.

My experience with cars is much the same, with one exception. I kept my rides for eighty thousand miles, except for the one I own now. The odometer has 181,000 miles on it and (knock on wood0 everything still works and the only major expenses have been for tires, brakes and batteries.

There is a gremlin in my head that keeps poking me in the ribs to buy a new car because this one is 16 years old and everything still works, the interior is still in fine condition, and there is no sign of rust any where. One day, I will walk home from the roadside, having abandoned a car that died. Or, I will be involved in a minor fender bender that will total the car and force me to send it to the junk yard. I lose sleep over having to spend a fortune on a new car, most likely my last one. Then, this morning while scrolling my phone I found an article that made my day, “These Cars Have the Longest Lifespans
Some cars last longer than others – a lot longer.”

https://apple.news/A5-M4pvjaQZ6yHaRLElSn0w

Inside the article is a list of ten long life vehicles:

1. Toyota Sequoia 296,509

2. Toyota Land Cruiser 280,236

3. Chevy Suburban 265,732

4. Toyota Tundra 256,022

5. GMC Yukon XL 252,630

6. Toyota Prius 250,601

7. Chevy Tahoe 250,338

8. Honda Ridgeline 248,669

9. Toyota Avalon 245,710

10. Toyota Highlander Hybrid 244,994

there, at number nine is my car.

Wow! My car might last for another sixty thousand miles. At the current rate of driving that could be six more years. By then, the State of Illinois will most likely tell me I’m too old to be driving. On the other hand, my brother is ninety-one and he still drives back and forth a hundred miles to his summer home in Michigan.

The prospect of buying an electric vehicle at a time when gasoline powered cars are enjoying the best reliability in history is scary, I think I’ll just buy a slightly newer model from the same company that made the one I drive now.