March is coming in like a lion, assuming that lions dump several inches of snow and crank the temperatures down to the teens. I finished reading a book this last month, Debt: The first 5000 years, by David Graeber. It pointed out and basically demolished a lot of assumptions made about money and morality by checking the anthropological record against economic theories. Once you start recognizing and challenging assumptions, it’s hard to stop. It’s a little like cleaning that way. I really want to add an essay on this book to my series on boring topics, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll pass on that awhile and harp on another boring topic, frustration.
For years the Seattle Seahawks have been maligned by the media and sports commentators as a second rate team. Very frustrating. But it makes their thorough trouncing of the Denver Broncos in the 2014 Super Bowl all the sweeter. I noted while reviewing my diary this last month that February events included a lot of frustration. Normally that would be on the no-no list for blog topics along with medical issues. But many of these frustrations have to do with the emergent socializing of the Internet, maybe some of you have had similar experiences that we could gripe about together. Very social albeit electronic.
*(Pictures pertain to the end of the blog – not the frustrations.)
- Google Adwords: I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to ad reps from Google trying to get an ad that would have coverage outside of the 40 mile circumference that their Ad Express software limits you to and which includes mostly trees in my case. Three different reps promised to convert my ads and get back to me. None of them did. They also promised to have my free clicks apply to the first month’s test. They did not. So I paid $43 for no sales or even contacts with my website. I stopped talking to them.
- Linked In: What is it good for? For years I have been getting occasional come-ons from people that I know to support their efforts to build a resume on Linked In. I have been doing that for people I actually know without too much trouble. But somehow I pushed a button that let Linked In access my gmail account and send emails to hundreds of people asking them to endorse my own skills. Many of us didn’t even know each other since group emails often contain addresses to people you don’t know. It was like an email chain reaction. After some persistent effort, I managed to ditch Linked In.
- Twitter: I thought I might contact David Graeber through twitter. So I signed up. It started asking me to subscribe to tweets from media and sports stars and anybody I could think of. Then I started to get emails from people I didn’t know who wanted to subscribe to my tweets even before I had sent any. Obviously just a new kind of spam. So I clamped down on that gambit.
- Hacker: Someone has been leaving virus files for months in the root directory of Crossroadsarchive.net, a website that I manage. He also left text files that only said “pepe”. I imagine that was his name. No one could figure out how Pepe was doing it and I had to keep deleting the files or a web crawler would find the virus files. (They didn’t infect my site but could have destroyed my computer if I downloaded them and opened them.) If virus files were found on my site, my hosting company got an alert to delete them or be blacklisted. A couple of weeks ago I changed a setting in that directory and so far no more virus files. But I keep checking.
- Verizon: I backed up Crossroadsarchive.net over a month ago, 14 gigabytes. I knew it was a lot of data so I called Verizon and upped our monthly data allowance for another $20 bucks/month. The next bill looked acceptable but then they retroactively added $265 to my normal monthly charge of $80. I disputed the charge with no resolution yet. Verizon has pushed through legislation that would allow them to charge you differently for access to different websites, destroying what has been known as Net Neutrality for the last 20 years. I am trying desperately to find another Internet company.
- The TTB: The Tobacco and Tax Bureau controls labels on wine bottles. They have a very touchy website that has created one road block after another for 4 or 5 months in trying to get my first wine label approved. Last week, after calling them and pointing out that the latest problem they were using to stop the application had already been fixed, I finally have an approved label and am now officially able to sell wine to the public. Thank goodness they have a phone number.
- The Library: Actually I love our library but after some searching for information about a gold mine I want to check out I found that our local library had a book with some information on it. When I went to look at the book in their reference section, we both found out that someone had stolen it. I later found it online and bought a copy. I think I’ll scan it and give the hard copy to the library.
- Windows Updates: All my computers depend on Microsoft Windows because the software I need only works on Windows. I have managed to avoid Windows 8 so far but Windows 7 is always wanting to update and somehow it can’t notice that I’m doing something when it decides to restart the whole computer and crash anything I have going.
Perhaps overcoming these frustrations should be a cause for celebration, maybe not like the 700,000 fans that swarmed Seattle after the Seahawks won, but something on a smaller scale. Actually, I’m still pissed off and remembering the adage: “To err is human, to really screw things up requires a computer.”
Okay, I have that off my chest. The best part of the month was taking a vacation to Pacific Beach for the Chocolate Festival and stopping to see our newest grandkid, James and his family. It got off to a dicey start with the oil cap being left off (but luckily staying in the engine compartment) and spraying oil all over the engine for 40 miles. We discovered smoke rising from the car while stopping to let our whiny dog, Gretchen, out to play. I’m glad we were near a store with motor oil and the car seemed to recover.
It was great seeing April, Tony and baby James. But he had a cold and was out of sorts. Gretchen settled down and we settled into a room at Pacific Beach Inn, a dog-friendly motel. Gretchen LOVES the beach, where she can chase balls for long distances. We liked walking the beach, watching the last of the Winter Olympics and tasting many kinds of chocolate from the booths at the Elementary School Gym. We got back home after 5 days and our cat was a little cold, but okay. The house got down to 50 degrees, but the temperatures outside got down to single digits.
The annual Panorama Gem and Mineral Show is coming up and I have a lot of preparation to do. So that’s it for February.