Depleted Promises

Some people have genes that make them great thinkers, athletes, artists and musicians. I think I have a complaint gene. I complain.


I shouldn’t complain. It’s a first world issue but still, it’s worth noting, well, to me. Otherwise that complaint gene is going to swell within me until it bursts out like the alien emerging from people's torsos.

First, though, side bar. I just discovered that first world and second world were originally references to political alliances with NATO and the United States or, the second world, the Soviet Bloc led by the USSR. Third world referred to those countries and regions not aligned with either. I haven’t vetted this information but I will. Yet, when I heard it, it rang a bell from my sixth grade history class.

On to the complaint. Computer related, of course, it’s about the inability to connect so often. Number one, were you aware that ‘bars’ mean nothing? Five bars does not have an established standard. It’s just marketing. I’m showing two, three bars right now, on my computer at this writing, but nothing will properly load.

Even my Gmail will not properly load. A message, in that faux folksy style Google likes to cultivate so it can pretend it’s not just another corporation intent on making morning money, comes up: “Oops! Something’s gone wrong. All your features can’t be loaded due to connection issues.” And it’s funny, in that sad reflection of modern commercial first world existence, because this is the free network offered in the local area, and it’s sponsored by Google and Starbucks.

Loading Gmail becomes a joke. It spins on and on, on and on, on and on, on and on, things loaded but not accessible. “Take me to Inbox” is offered, a feature, in typical Google fashion, that’s pretty nifty but flawed. Nifty because it bundles information. Flawed because it seems to capriciously change what should be grouped with what. My News has become Promotions. Things start getting thrown into spam. The one that seems most organized is Social.

I click on the Inbox to go there. It loads after about two minutes but it spins on, like tires in mud, round and round and round and round. I click on an email and the system continues spinning , spinning, spinning. I need some cyber kitty litter to get some traction. Eventually, it became moot. Chrome quit responding. I euthanized the app and gave up.

But I tried again, twice. Once is an incident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. I surrendered after the fourth.

So there it is. Unable to load Goggle’s stuff because of Google’s network, which ends up being bad marketing to me. If you’re going to associate yourself with something, shouldn’t you ensure that it’s up to your standards? What does it mean if it’s not? Well, to me – IMHO, in today’s parlance – it means your standards aren’t very high. And they seem malleable. Not very rock solid, you know, sold for a little exposure, but turns out as bad exposure. Google’s offerings diminished a little more in my eyes. Of course, I may be an outlier.

Yes, it’s a complaint about a free wireless service out in public. But they made the promise, didn’t they? I’m just calling them on it.



NOTE: Written in the morning but not posted until the afternoon because…well, there just wasn’t a viable connection. 

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The Beast

Normally when writing about beasts, I'm writing about cats.  This isn't a cat post although, since I've started, I'll mention all the cats are doing swell.  Tucker, the enigmatic stray who found us last year is doing particularly well.  He is more aggressive with the others than we prefer, though. Energetic, he'll get 'that look' and chase after Quinn. More importantly for Tucker, his new home must be defended against other feline interlopers, including the little ginger doppleganger who visits each morning for petting and food.  We will work on this, Tucker, I've warned him.  He's not stupid and knows his activities aren't appreciated.  To compensate, we've dug out the old cat toys and found a few that he enjoys. Other than that, visitors marvel about his sweet, happy nature.

No, today's beast topic is about the new computer.  After a few years of complaining about my 'old' Lenova, I've replaced it. The Lenova is old by marketing standards, nigh on five years now.  It's embarrassing to be spotted with such an archaic, ancient machine.  Yeah, no. I replaced the Thinkpad because of ongoing crashes, wireless adapter connectivity matters, and fan and heating issues.  I practiced due diligence when I bought it.  Reviewers raved about the machine so it's early demise disappointed me. When buying the new one, I also executed due diligence but realized that reviewers don't really 'live' with machines.  They invest a few days or a week to them, maybe, not the years that I plan. So I toss all that out and went in a new direction:  price, availability and the opportunity to return it without a fuss if it didn't work out.  Costco became my provider of choice.  An HP Envy was the choice.

It's a best, a large screen, full keyboard, battery that can give me over five hours of use, 16 gigs of RAM, huge HDD, Intel fast chips inside, blah blah blah. Weighs over five pounds, humorous to consider that 'big' but when walking with it strapped over my shoulder for a few miles, it doth feel big and heavy.  

Overall, the Beast pleases me.  I've already experienced issues.  The wireless adapter failed the first day. Flash plug ins still cause web page freezes and crashes. Those matters further convince me that this is the new computer era of continuous issues, updates and maintenance.  This is just another aspect of first world blues, complaining about our network speed and appliance issues when others have so much less.  Buying the new machine with Win 8.1 and all the latest and greatest geejaws helped that education practice by lowering my expectations away from the manufacturers' promises and the marketing hype.

Speaking of marketing hype and beasts as another aside, I'm amused by recent automobile ads.  The big thing frequently being hyped in cars is horsepower.  "Most horsepower in its class!" they proclaim, adding caveats with asterisks and fine print.  To what end? I wonder.  What's the point of more horsepower in a car? Go faster and quicker?  Where on American streets and highways are you requiring more horsepower?  How much time do you really think you'll be saving with your greater horsepower when our speeds are curtailed by safety, laws, traffic, and fuel?  

Yet, around America, people stir in their current motorized beasts, grit their teeth, clench their wheels and whisper, "I need more horsepower."

It's so different from computers.  You wouldn't believe how much power my Beast has.

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After all the products I've tried to clean my computer throughout my computer use, which goes back to 1984, I've concluded that human spit is the best cleanser for the keys, mouse and monitor.  To borrow from Brill Creme, just a little dab will do ya.  If you don't understand the Brill Creme reference, Google it.

Mom taught me the miracles of using spit to clean.  When I joined the military, they also highly recommended using your spit to polish your brass and boots.  Spit and tissue, toilet paper if necessary, did a great job of bringing out the brilliance.  Shining your boots in basic was greater than the task but a matter of sitting down together with strangers in your unit and bonding as you buffed, asking one another questions and listening while goading each other into petty competition about having the shiniest shoes. 

There was none of that with Mom.  She was brutal about it.  "What's that on your face?" she'd demand of one of us.  "Come here."  Faster than a striking cobra, she had us in her grip.  Licking a thumb, she would mutter about 'you kids' while she vigorously rubbed the spit loaded thumb against the dirt speck until satisfied you were clean.  Meanwhile, my sisters and I were horrified that Mom was using spit to clean us, but she was doing it in public.  Mom didn't care where she was, and that included grocery and department stores, other people's houses, walking on the streets or in restaurants.  Dirt wasn't abided and spit was the cleanser. 

Her spit cleaning was more than learning about using spit to clean.  From using spit and a thumb because nothing else is available, I learned to improvise.  If I didn’t have what I need, use what I have, think outside of the standard space, explore what else can be done, and use imagination.   

So there I was, staring at my dirty keyboard, fifty plus years removed from Mom spitting on a thumb to clean my skin, licking a finger, rubbing down my computer because, well, I was writing and didn’t want to break away to go get something to clean it with.  That was really usually the case.  I just didn't want to leave the keyboard.  Besides, I had some spit available. Why waste it?


The keyboard looks a lot better now.

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